January 18, 2021

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Amarylis: A December Houseplant

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Today Cynthia Strickland, who gardens in Raleigh, North Carolina is sharing an interesting twist on the familiar amaryllis. (Cynthia has contributed to the GPOD before, check it out here and here.)

In the past weeks I enjoyed watching a “waxed” amaryllis (Hippeastrum hybrid, Zones 7 or 9 through 10 depending on the variety or grown as a houseplant), a flowering bulb encased in wax, grow and bloom indoors. The flowers lasted at least as long as a cut flower arrangement. It did not need to be planted in soil or watered and it was easy to move around. The amaryllis only needed bright light and there was no soil or water to spill.

The roots had been removed so the bottom of the bulb was flat and free-standing. In some photos you can see how most of the energy goes into flower production and the length of the leaves are very short. The bulb, which is bigger than a baseball, took about four weeks for the flower buds to become visible from under the sepals. In this (unknown) variety, there were two flower stems with four flowers on each stem.

It was interesting to watch the plant parts grow and change, as well as seeing how different the red of the petals looked in various lighting situations. The buds grouped together looked similar to tulips and really pop next to an ‘Electric Lime’ coleus (Solenostemon ‘Electric Lime’, annual). Outdoors in bright sunlight the red-orange color is stark and intense paired with a ‘Blue Pacific’ juniper (Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’, Zone 6 – 9).

I live in zone 7a where I have seen amaryllis growing outdoors. Although the chances are slim of the spent, rootless bulb living, I removed the wax and other covering, sprinkled some rooting hormone on the bottom of the bulb, and placed it in a pot with some soil as an experiment to see if it would grow.

Happy gardening!

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The amaryllis in full bloom.

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The wax-covered bulb, with the flower buds just beginning to emerge.

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The stems beginning to stretch taller.

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The buds ready to pop open.

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In full bloom. The leaves of the waxed bulb stay short, but the flowers open as normal.

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Detail of the anthers – the male part of the flower – beginning to shed their pollen.

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The amaryllis paired with a ‘Blue Pacific’ juniper.

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After the flowers have finished, the flower stems cut off, and pealing away the wax to try and encourage the bulb to grow roots. Has anyone tried to grow a waxed amaryllis after flowering? Any success?

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