Amaryllis: the gift that keeps giving

I was planning to whine about the onset of nasty winter weather the past couple of weeks in upstate New York, but it is already mid-February and all I can say is that spring is only a couple of months away!

Two months is not such a long time when you reach my age. Winters now pass by like weeks, it seems to me, and years pass by like months.

There are very few advantages to being over 70 in America today. I would gladly trade all my “senior citizen discounts” for some of the years that have elapsed so quickly.

However...I was fortunate to be able to receive both COVID vaccine shots here in Florida, where I reside for five to six months a year. The main prerequisite in the Sunshine State was that the recipient is 65 years or older. Sadly, that loose requirement led to some people travelling here only to get the vaccine.

“Vaccine tourists” started arriving from all over the country and even Canada and Europe. This created quite a backlash among the locals and led to changes. Now only full-time or seasonal Florida residents (snowbirds), such as I, remain eligible.

I am grateful I was able to get the shots. It upsets me that many of my friends and neighbors back home have been unable to be vaccinated in New York, but different states have different priorities.

Giving someone the same Christmas gift every year for many years might lead others to question your memory, or creativity, but there are some gifts that are really appreciated and may be enjoyed indefinitely for many more years. Every year I get an amaryllis bulb for my daughter, who lives here in sunny Florida. She plants them outside in her backyard and they bloom faithfully every year.

Amaryllis plants are more correctly called “Hippeastrum.” These amazing bulbs produce from one to several huge, brilliantly colored, lily-like flowers on a single, sturdy flower stalk. The flowers may be as large as 10 inches in diameter and they come in various shades of red, white, orange, pink or striped combinations of these colors.

When the flower stalk appears, it grows so rapidly you can almost see it grow! The spectacular flowers also last for about three weeks indoors.

Amaryllis bulbs are sold in several different sizes. Some are almost as large as an orange. The larger the bulb, the bigger and more numerous the flowers. The bulbs take about a month to come into full bloom if the bulb is completely dormant when purchased. If one is started now, it will be in bloom during the dark days of March, when most northerners are in desperate need of something pretty to look at!

Buy the biggest bulb you can afford and then buy a standard clay pot that is only about two inches larger than the bulb’s diameter. Place an inch of gravel in the bottom of the pot, an inch of soil on top of the gravel and then sit the bulb on top. The top one-third of the bulb should be above the soil level. Finish filling the pot with a good quality soiless mix, firming it around the bottom of the bulb. You will not need much soil since the bulb almost fills the pot. There should only be about an inch of soil surrounding the bulb in the pot when you are finished.

Water thoroughly and allow the excess to drain. Don’t let the pot sit in standing water at any time.

Within a few days to a week the bulb should sprout a flowering stalk that will grow very quickly. Within a month the huge flower buds will open and you will be treated to a spectacular display!

Cut the individual flowers off with a sharp knife as they fade and keep the plant in full sun while in bloom. Amaryllis will flower in sun or shade when forced such as this.

When all the flowers have faded cut off the flowering stalk near the base of the bulb. Long, strap-like leaves should appear next. Keep the soil moist and apply a houseplant fertilizer about once a month while the leaves are growing. Provide as much sunlight as possible. Many people put them outside in a full sun location during the summer.

When the foliage begins to turn yellow and die back, omit the fertilizer and cut back on the watering. Although a cold period is not required to rebloom, many gardeners put the bulb in a cool basement after the leaves begin to turn yellow.

My daughter’s amaryllis collection is becoming pretty impressive after so many years and I hope they remain as important to her, as giving them to her is to me.

Reach Bob Beyfuss at

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.