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Vermont Garden Journal: Amaryllis

AP Photo/Lee Reich

This flower is named after a shepherdess who had unrequited love for a gardener. Each day she would walk to his door to impress him by piercing her own heart with a golden arrow. The blood that would drop to the ground would turn into scarlet flowers that would line his path. I don't know if that shepherdess ever got her gardener, but I do know her name was amaryllis.

This South American tropical bulb is easy to grow and rewarding with its large, 10 inch diameter, multiple blooms. Plus, with a little care you can get it to rebloom next year.

Amaryllis bulbs are hardy in southern climes, but we mostly force them indoors to bloom in winter. Flowers are double or single with colors such as deep scarlet, white, salmon, pink, and striped. Newer dwarf versions have more flowers with shorter flower stalks so they're less likely to flop over.

Pot up amaryllis now into a container a little larger than the bulb. Place them in a brightly lit warm room and water. In a few months your amaryllis should be in full flower. Most bulbs produce two flower stalks, and some even three. Remove spent flowers as they fade and cut back the flower stalk to the bulb when all the flowers have passed. Keep the bulb with its leaves growing and in early summer, move the pot outdoors to a morning sun location. Fertilize monthly and keep well watered. In early fall, cut back the leaves to within 2 inches of the bulb, stop watering and place the bulb in a dark, 40 to 50 F room to go dormant for 6 weeks. Then bring it into the light and warmth again to bloom once more in winter.

And now for this week's tip, erect A-frame teepees over delicate shrubs, such as rhododendrons, that are planted under the drip line of your house to protect them from snow and ice falling off the roof in winter.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about  air cleaning houseplants. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Listen Friday, November 29, 2013 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, December 1, 2013 at 9:35 a.m.

Amaryllis Planting and Care
Amaryllis Growing Instructions

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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