With giant, trumpet-shaped flowers facing outward around a central stalk, a blooming amaryllis makes an eye-catching houseplant. Colors range from white through pink to red (and even almost black), as well as salmon-orange. Stripes or contracting edges are common. “African” amaryllis have more compact forms suited to indoor cultivation. Dwarf amaryllis are smaller in size but can produce more blooms.

Not surprisingly, these striking, easy-to-grow bulbs are popular holiday gifts; perhaps you received one this year. There’s even a bright red variety named “Merry Christmas”!

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amaryllis.jpgQ: I received an Amaryllis bulb as a gift, but I don’t know how to care for it or get it to bloom.

A: You are fortunate as amaryllis is one of the most popular winter or spring indoor plants. With proper care you can enjoy its large lily-like flowers for many years.

Amaryllis plants are from the tropics and do not require a cold period to bloom. In fact, freezing and over watering are the two most common causes of bulb death.

To establish your amaryllis plant, select a pot having a diameter about 2 inches greater than the bulb. Most bulbs fit nicely into 6 to 8 inch pots which have drainage holes in their base. For some reason, amaryllis plants do better when they are pot bound. (more…)