Taking care of your Amaryllis or Paperwhites
Keep your amaryllis in a warm, sunny room. Once the amaryllis is blooming, move it out of direct sun to prolong the flowering.
Water two or three times a week to maintain moist (never soggy) soil. The amount of water will depend on your environment, but will probably amount to about 1/4 cup of water approximately twice a week. If you stick the top of your finger into the soil, you will be able to feel if it’s moist. If the soil is really wet, hold off on watering for a couple of days and test it again.
Amaryllis flowers can be heavy, especially if multiple flowers open at the same time. Stake the flower stalk as required to avoid toppling. Nestle a tall stake (a branch, a piece of bamboo, a metal rod) beside the bulb and deeply into the soil so it’s nice and firm. Tie the flower stalk to the stake to keep it from falling over as the flowers open.
If the stem happens to fall over or break, simply cut the stem and place it in fresh water. The flowers make a very long-lasting cut flower. Ensure that the container you place the cut flower stem into is thoroughly clean and change the water daily.
Once your amaryllis has completed it’s blooming period, cut the flower stalks off at the base but ensure you keep the foliage. Move the plant to a bright, sunny area to allow the foliage to grow and thrive. Treat as a houseplant for this period. When it gets warm enough, you can move the amaryllis plant outside for the summer. You may want to put it into a different pot to ensure that it gets good drainage. If you choose to leave it in the existing pot, ensure that the pot never has pooled water in it from rain or overhead irrigation. In September, the foliage will begin to yellow. At this stage, cut all of the foliage back to the top of the bulb and cut off any roots from the base of the bulb (think of how a head of garlic looks). Remove the bulb from it’s container and store the bare bulb in a cool, dry place. After 6-8 weeks, plant the bulb shallowly into a container so that only one-third to one-half of the bulb is buried in the soil. Amaryllis like to be planted snug in their container so ensure that the container you plant it into allows for no more than two finger widths between the bulb and the side of the container. Water and place in a warm sunny room to start the process again.
Amaryllis bulbs are very long-lived. Enjoy yours for years to come.
Paperwhites are a popular bulb for indoor forcing but a common problem is that they grow overly tall and flop over. Researchers at Cornell University have discovered a simple solution to stunting the height of the paperwhites.
Once the green shoot is growing about 2″ above the bulb, stop watering with straight water and beginning watering with a solution made from 1 part vodka to 7 parts water. Water with this solution every time. The result is a plant that is one third of the usual height, but with flowers that are just as large, fragrant and long-lasting.
Unlike amaryllis, paperwhites will not bloom again in the pot. So once the flowers are done flowering, you can put the bulbs in the compost or plant into your garden. If planted in the garden, the bulbs won’t bloom for a year, but may bloom again in subsequent years.