Each year in mid-November I make a trip to our local garden center in search of red lion amaryllis bulbs. Hoping for those showy red blooms to burst open before Christmas, the bulbs are placed in one of my favorite holiday containers. If the timing is favorable, we get to enjoy a profusion of large, velvety flowers for a few weeks, or longer. Christmas somehow seems more colorful and festive with a touch of nature decorating our home.
Over time, I began to wonder what to do with those lovely plants once the blooming ceased. Shamefully, many times, bulbs and all went straight to the trash. Thankfully, I remembered having seen a friend’s amaryllis in a garden bed nestled up against her house. It was mid to late April of 2012 and the amaryllis was filled with beautiful red blooms. That sweet memory changed my attitude about amaryllis. Going forward, I would be a bulb keeper.
Now, ten years later, there is a special place in our garden where those leftover Christmas amaryllis bulbs are placed in their new outdoor home. We chose to locate them in an area that receives morning to early afternoon sun. For the remainder of the day, it is partial shade. As you can see from the photos, they are thriving and gracing our garden with their spectacular springtime surprise. One Christmas, we received a white amaryllis as a gift. It’s now part of the red brigade and looks very stately among the “reds”.
If you would like to enjoy amaryllis year after year, be kind to your bulbs by planting them in the garden. Here are a few simple considerations:
*Amaryllis are easy to grow outdoors in our Zone 8 climate. They can tolerate both sun and shade but, typically, do best with morning to midday sun and bright shade throughout the afternoon.
*Bulbs prefer well-draining fertile soil. Improve drainage by creating a slightly raised bed or mix in some organic matter.
*Sets the bulbs with 5 to 6 inches of soil above them, followed by 5 to 6 inches of mulch.
* When the flowers fade, cut the flower stalk back to just above the bulb. Leave the foliage throughout the summer until it succumbs to the first fall frost.
*If the plants become overcrowded, divide the clumps and separate as needed.
FYI…Once planted outside, forced amaryllis bulbs will eventually revert back to their natural spring blooming cycle. Our 15+ amaryllis plants generally start blooming in mid to late April, continuing for a few weeks.
Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008