It's more than just a holiday flower.
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A neighbor stopped in front of our house and gazed at the porch. “Are those flowers real?” she asked.

“Yep, aren’t they beautiful?” I responded. “They’re called amaryllis. Most people buy them around Christmastime, but they only bloom then because they’ve been grown in a greenhouse. “Spring is their natural time to bloom. I have about 5 or 6 different colors, all acquired around Christmas. Some have been in the same pot for 10 years and they bloom every spring.”

My neighbor was impressed. “I’m going to write down that name and get me some,” she said. “They sure are pretty.” She pulled out her smart phone and took a picture to record my plant’s magnificence.

This particular amaryllis, which I believe is ‘Apple Blossom,’ has split into four bulbs over the years. Each one sends up a one or two stalks about three feet tall. A whorl of four pink trumpets about six inches wide crowns each stalk. It’s quite an amazing sight, if I do say so myself.

“Amaryllis is one of the easiest plants to care for that I know,” I told her. “After they finish blooming, I cut off the flower stalks. Long, strap-shaped leaves then grow. I put the pot in a sunny spot and give the plant a tablespoon full of slow-release fertilizer. The only other thing it needs is regular watering. In October, I make it go dormant for the winter by stopping watering. When the leaves turn yellow, I cut them off, and store the bulb and its pot in a corner of the garage until the next spring. It needs absolutely no attention there until you see a green bud appear at the top of the bulb. Water the pot and put it outside after your last frost. You’ll get flowers in a couple of weeks.”

“Can I get amaryllis bulbs now?” she asked.

“Well, that’s a problem,” I replied. So many people think of them as holiday flowers that most garden centers and online nurseries offer them only in fall and early winter. So you’ll probably have to wait until then. But what the heck, that’s only five months or so, and you can enjoy them every year for the rest of your life.”

“That sounds like good deal,” she said.

It is. So save this page as a reminder. Good online sources for amaryllis include Easy to Grow Bulbs, Longfield Gardens, John Scheepers, and Brent & Becky’s Bulbs.