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Hamptons Life

Oct 29, 2009 11:27 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Indoor gardening notes

Oct 29, 2009 11:27 AM

I’ve purchased some nice plump amaryllis bulbs over the past few weeks and since they are “primed” and ready to go, they’ve been potted up with the hope of blooming in December, possibly for Christmas.

When purchasing these bulbs, remember that it can take six to eight weeks to get a fully dormant bulb blooming. Also keep in mind that they love being under-potted in pots only an inch or so larger in diameter than the bulb. And while this may mean repotting every year or two, they seem to perform better when “tight.”

If grown in too low light, the flower stalks will be thin and probably collapse before flowering. Bright light is best, but full sun is not necessary. Water from the bottom and hold off on any feeding until foliage develops.

If you buy big, healthy bulbs, the challenge shouldn’t be in getting them to flower this year. Next year, well that’s another story.

Once the flower has faded, cut the stalk several inches from the top of the bulb and discard it. Continue to water and feed the plant so long as the foliage is actively growing (and this can easily be another six to eight months).

The bulbs can go outside in their pots during the summer. But keep the slugs away.

In early summer (if you remember), try to figure out when you want the bulbs to rebloom. Count eight to 10 weeks backward and at that date start to withhold water and fertilizer to send the bulb into dormancy.

Keep the dormant bulbs in a cool, dark closet or in the basement in late summer and early fall. Start the cycle all over again six to eight weeks before you want them to bloom.

Having a collection of 10 to 15 bulbs gives you an opportunity to experiment with dormancy and bloom forcing. That might sound like a lot of bulbs, but they don’t take up much room and the flowers really brighten up the place in the dullest part of winter.

Andrew Messinger

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