FAQ version 1.0
Every question has a long answer but I will put the most concise first. There are a variety of different answers to questions hence the links for the newbies to read & decide for themselves.
Ive bought a Amaryllis bulb in a box now what?
I bought several Amaryllis bulbs in boxes and planted them in the pots provided. But i notice that the pots do not have holes in the bottom. Should i repot in a pot with drain holes or leave them as is? Or make holes in these pots?
Definitely either transplant or add holes.
If you have opted to use the compressed coco coir potting medium that came with your bulbs, be careful about watering... I have found that using coco coir, alone, as a medium is not the best idea for those of us that lean toward over-watering! The coir tends to retain quite a bit of moisture for too long a time, and contributes to root rot, which can easily spread to the bulb, itself.
Hippeastrum bulbs prefer to dry out a bit in between waterings, and they hate "wet feet"! The coir might look dry on top, but down in the center of the pot, it could be quite moisture-laden! I have found it helpful to insert little wooden skewers carefully into the soil to about root level, and leave them there... I take them out and press them against my cheek to test for dampness... if they feel at all damp, I wait to water... but if the skewer comes out dry, it's time to water.
Personally, I pitch the coir disks when I buy bulb kits, and use my own medium mix, which is a lot more porous and drains rather fast... I pot everything in unglazed clay containers, except for my orchids... the clay tends to "breathe", and is considered healthier for the roots.
Of course, I'm in zone 5, so my climate conditions will be different than others... some folks use strictly plastic pots and regular potting soil... some use clay and mix their own mediums... some use the kits just as they are with great success. It all depends on your environmental conditions, and your level of gardening knowledge and experience.
I wish you luck with your new bulbs! Once they bloom for you, and you see what lovely flowers these bulbs produce... and once you see how easy they are to care for and re-bloom... you'll be hooked like the rest of us!
If you've planted your Amaryllis, unpot it, and buy a far bigger pot and re-pot it - as soon as possible - per the recommended suggestions discussed below.
I've grown these bulbs for a number of years and one of the "tricks" is to place them in a much larger pot than is usually recommended. Currently, I have a Amaryllis bulb planted in a 16 inch diamter pot and it is doing very, very well. If fact, it has three "kids" growing around the mother bulb.
Many years ago, when I went to repot one of my bulbs and noted that the roots of these bulbs were comparatively large and I came to the conclusion that the usually recommended procedure of the "forcing" i.e. planting - of these bulbs in pots that are just an inch or two larger than the diameter of the bulb is FALSE - mainly because there is insufficient room for root growth and equally insufficient room for the take up of nutrients let alone enough room for good nourishment. In short, there seems to be no logic to place these bulbs in a 'straight-jacket' and expect them to grow in stature or longevity.
No human being can "grow" under such straight-jacket conditions, so why should we come to believe that the same method should be more than 'suitable' for plants. Doesn't make any sense.
Consequently, I repotted my bulbs in much larger pots 12 - 16 inches minimum. Of course, I trimmed the roots and got rid of much of the 'old' soil and gave the bulb a nice new home of good potting soil. I would highly recommend that you pot your Amaryllis in a good sized 14 or 16 inch pot with some depth to it.
One of the consequences of this development was the magnificant array of blooms that I experienced in their third year of growth. Not only did the bulb grow larger, but the mother bulb gave 'birth' to several 'kids' so that I ended up with three or four or more stalks all full of bloom one Christmas. Lovely - absolutely lovely. I had two stalks coming off of the mother bulb.
One of the responses to your posting has given you photographic evidence of this occurrence. When this number of bulbs are in bloom, they are a joy to experience.
I did repot my current bulb in the fall of last year into a 16 inch pot, because I had one 'kid' who was making it's appearance. We have a horticultural program where I work and I donated the 'kid' to the program and it was potted up in a nice large pot. Sure enough, the 'kid' came into bloom this spring.
Another source for my idea and inspiration was the story I was told about one of the former employees working at Kelly's Seed & Hardware in Peoria, IL. This employee - of German heritage - planted his Amaryllis bulbs outside in the late spring and early summer in a very deeply prepared and in a very loose soil structure. He fertilized and watered them on a regular basis and ended up with Soccer sized Amaryllis bulbs in the late fall.
I would have loved to see his bulbs and talked with him about how he accomplished this, but I do think that planting these bulbs in far larger pots than usually recommended is very beneficial (and equally enjoyable).
With regard to a suggested soil mixture, I would purchase a very good, loose, humusy soil mixture or make one up myself with good potting soil, some perlite, some aged cow manure, and some sphagnum peat moss and then give the bulb and soil a very good soaking of 1/2 strength fertilizer and then let it rest for a bit and then water it until water drains out of the bottom. Some time later, you can then give it another good soaking with 1/2 strength fertilizer and from then give some watering when needed. And repeat the process of fertilzing, then watering as needed, i.e. let the top few inches of the soil dry out and use your finger as a "tester".
Hope this information becomes more than inspirational in your Amaryllis growing efforts.
For a full discussion
Overwatering is a common problem for "Newbie's" with these bulbs. If the roots are rotten, then you've given them too much water, and that is why you are having a problem. (if they're not rotten, just gently put it back in the pot.) My mother-in-law over-watered the 2 Amaryllis bulbs I gave her a year ago Christmas. The roots just fell off when I took the bulbs out of the pots. I tried to bring with back by un-potting them and powdering with a fungicide and leaving them out of the pot -- just keeping them in a cool, dry place and waiting to see if they would show any sign of growth, but they just shriveled up and died. If you do find rotten roots, let us know and maybe someone else will have a better idea. I'd love to know because I gave her two more this year, and one looks like she's been overwatering it again! MacThayer
misting the bulbs would NOT be a good idea... in fact, many people water their bulbs from the bottom to keep excess moisture away from the bulb, itself... the idea is to get water to the roots when they need it, but to keep unnecessary moisture from sitting on the bulb, so as not to invite fungus or rot to begin.
It's perfectly ok to stick your finger down into the soil to check for moisture... I do it all the time, and I have 50 plus bulbs in individual pots... I make sure to stick my finger as deep as it will go into the soil so I'm certain I've got the watering timing correct.
I would highly suggest going to your local grocery store and picking up a package of small bamboo skewers... they usually run about a dollar, or so, for a package of 100... they can be cut in half, and the pointed end carefully inserted into the soil to about root level, as mentioned above in my other post. Leave the skewer in the soil, and every few days, pull it out and press it gently against your cheek... if it feels cool and damp, hold off on watering... but if you can't feel any moisture on the skewer, it's time to add water.
More plants are killed by improper watering than by any other one thing! This is fact! There's no such thing as a "green thumb"... having a green thumb is simply having knowledge of plants and how to care for them, and using that knowledge! That's it!
When you water your bulbs, gently pour water on the soil until that water begins to come out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot... then, allow the pot to drain thoroughly and dump the excess water that's left in the saucer. Never allow your bulbs to sit in water.
If you prefer to water using the bottom watering method, fill the saucer with water and allow it to wick up into the pot, exactly as you'd water an African Violet... you may have to refill the saucer a few times... however, after some time passes, you'll want to dump the excess water out of the saucer so the pot isn't sitting in water that it can't absorb.
On to the glass vase method of flowering these bulbs... be sure that the bottom of the vase contains enough pebbles or decorative glass rocks so that the basal plate, or bottom of the bulb, is held suspended above the level of water in the vase. You want the roots to be in the water, but not the bulb, itself! It's rather crucial to keep an eye on the water level when blooming them in glass vases. Once they are done blooming, you'll want to take them out of the vase and carefully plant them in soil. They will need to grow their leaves and be cared for well so they can recharge for the next bloom season the following year.
As far as light goes, Hippeastrum bulbs require lots of sunshine when in growth mode! An unobstructed east or south window sill is probably best, although top quality grow lighting can be used, as well. While a bulb is in bloom, keeping it out of direct sunlight will prolong the flowering for a little while. It will still require light, of course, but it can be moved to a table or counter near a window, where you can better enjoy its flowers while they last!
A lot of people take their bulbs, pot and all, outdoors to enjoy the spring and summer sunshine and fresh air... they will find a sheltered area, out of reach of bad weather and other dangers, and allow their bulbs to grow until the weather gets cooler... then, they bring the pots back indoors for winter. While outdoors, the bulbs will most likely require more water, and they'll require fertilizer, as well.
I could write quite the book on how to properly care for your bulbs, but I think most of it has been covered already in past posts... proper watering and light levels are probably the two most important aspects of successful bulb growing, and it would definitely pay for you to do some reading here in this forum, and in the Container Gardening Forum, so you have a good idea of how plants and their root systems, and soils in containers, all work together.
It all may seem a bit daunting, but I promise you that it's really all easy once you understand what your bulbs require... and the rewards of good growing and good plant care are very much worth the effort of learning!
My Amaryllis is just growing leaves & not blooms:
I bought some Amaryllis bulbs at lowes last summer. They got the long swordlike green leaves but no flowers. When those flopped I cut them down and the leaves grew long again but no flowers? What do I need to do?
Also what is the hardiness zone for amaryllis?
I recently got an apple blossom amaryllis for Christmas. I've been watering it weekly and currently have three large leaves. After reading this site, am I correct in assuming that I won't get flowers this season? However, do I continue to water weekly and let the leaves grow? When do I stop watering-do I force dormancy or just let it do it on it's own? How long does this take?
Amaryllis are hardy in zones 8 and warmer and they need additional mulch in zone 8.
Cutting the foliage off is a big DO NOT DO! The foliage is what supplies the bulb with the food needed to increase in size, develop a good, strong root system and to initiate the flower buds deep within the bulb. When you cut the original growth of foliage off the bulb had to expend it's energy on growing new foliage. Oh and btw, most Amaryllis or "Hippies" as we call them here (short for their proper botanical name, Hippeastrums) have long, strapy or sword shaped leaves that can measure up to 30 inches long (RED LION, last summer! He is huge!)
There are more specific growing procedures in other posts (threads, knowing your growing area would help us know what requirements you meet and what can be met with artificial means.
See whole discussion
Although you still could possibly see the growth of a flower scape, don't be alarmed if it doesn't happen. Some bulbs simply didn't set buds within their previous growth cycle, or something happened to stress the bulb to the point where the buds died... it's impossible to know for certain why the bulb didn't bloom.
Instead of watering weekly, I suggest watering only when the soil feels dry down at root level. It's important that these bulbs not be over watered, and sticking to a schedule is more likely to cause an issue than watering when the plant needs it.
Think of the soil as a kitchen sponge... it should feel damp, but wrung out. And you'll want to allow that dampness to dissipate before adding more moisture. Stick your finger down into the pot as far as it will go, and if you can feel any cool moisture, hold off on the watering. It's better to err on the dry side than to give a Hippeastrum bulb too much water.
Regardless of flowering, you'll want to give your plant as much sunlight as possible. If you're in the north, a south or east facing window will be fine... if you reside in a climate where you can take the plant outdoors, place it in a spot where it will get morning sun and dappled afternoon shade.
You'll want to feed your bulb, too... an all purpose liquid plant food will do fine. Dilute it to about 1/4 strength and water with this solution every time the bulb requires water.
If you want blooms at Christmas, you would force a dormancy by withholding water, starting around the second week in August. You would place the pot in a dark, cool basement or a garage that doesn't freeze, and you would allow it about a 10-12 week rest. Some people will tip the pot on its side so they remember not to water. Once the leaves have died back, they can be removed.
After the 10-12 weeks, check the bulb... there may some bud growth at this point. In any case, bring it back into a warm, bright room and water it. You should see growth begin shortly.
The natural bloom cycle of a Hippeastrum takes place in spring, so if you choose not to force a dormancy, you can grow your bulb like a houseplant, giving it as much light as possible, and feeding and watering as it requires. With good care, your bulb should bloom in spring. It may not bloom the first spring following purchase, but if conditions are right, the following spring should bring blooms.
I hope I've answered your questions. If you have further need of information, we're happy to help! Good luck with your new bulb!
See whole discussion
My Amaryllis has Long floppy leaves:
You can try to let them stay upright with tape and sticks. Otherwise, long leaves flopping over is a sign of to little light
It actually needs more light than a diffused light situation allows... try moving it into a room that has an east or south facing window, if you can.
Otherwise, a stake will work to hold the leaves upright until you can get your potted bulb outdoors in spring.
A metal clothes hanger can be cut and bent into a temporary plant leaf holder, like the ones sold at stores... or a bamboo stake and some twine... whatever you have available, and can fashion into a holder for the leaves will work.
I only have one stalk of flowers not two coming up why?
There is nothing special you can do when you first get the bulb to have two stems per bulb. Most bulbs purchased have been primed by the growers to bloom, and most bulbs will put up at least two consecutive scapes, some three. I suppose it depends on where you purchased your bulbs, their age, and how large they are.
Some bulbs will bloom both scapes at the same time, while others will bloom one, then a second will follow shortly after.
How many flowering stakes the bulb produces is determined by the amount of leaves it had in the last vegetative period. So if you want more blooms be sure to get your bulbs the brightest spot you have
Can I grow Amaryllis outside:
Depending on where you are in zone 8, some Amaryllis (hippeastrum) will be hardy for you in the ground. However, in a pot is another story. Again, it depends on where you are. You see, in the ground, they get more warmth than in a pot unless your porch is protected and more warm.
I've been growing Hippeastrum outdoors for 6 or 7 years now. They do best with the base of the bulb planted about 5" deep in sandy loam. They are planted among other perennials and receive several inches of shredded leaves as a winter mulch. The bulbs haven't frozen and only rarely do voles destroy them. Bulb fly has not been a problem.
What zone are Amaryllis hardy in:
I believe them to be hardy to zone 8, with protection. Hippeastrums are considered tender amaryllids.
Find your zone
Help! I Think my Amaryllis is dying!
My Amaryllis put out lots of foliage, but no blooms. I'm having some leaves dying and turning yellow. So I decided it "wasn't their time", and perhaps they would be better off re-potted. When I repotted them, I found them terribly root-bound, with roots just circling the pot. The roots were dry, intact, and there was no evidence of root rot at this point. I gently loosened the roots and potted them up into pots that are 2 inches wider than the bulb on each side. I had read on this post that some people put theirs outdoors and they develop very long roots, so I wanted to give them plenty of room to grow. That was about a month ago. I have not watered them since. However, my water meter says that the bottoms of the pots are still "wet" (4 on a scale of 1 to 4) and I'm having some leaves dying and turning yellow. I'm afraid my roots are rotting! I promise you that other than the moisture in the potting mix when I potted them up, I have not added one drop of moisture. I also put them in clay pots (unglazed) to aid evaporation and hopefully prevent a problem like this. I used tons of perlite to keep the soil mix very light. I just don't know why this is happening. Would it do any good to repot them now, and if so, how would you do it? Many thanks for any help you can offer! MacThayer
DO NOT cut off the foliage! I don't necessarily think your bulbs are dying, but it wouldn't hurt to care for them properly right now, beginning with a re-pot in well-draining medium and a light dusting of anti-fungal powder...
For the most part, hippeastrum bulbs are fairly forgiving when it comes to re-potting. My advice is to choose a clay pot about 2 or 3 inches wider around than your bulb and fairly deep to give the roots room to grow. Use a potting medium that's very well-draining. I'll talk a little bit about medium later in the post. No need to use a layer of anything in the bottom of the pot, unless you use a small piece of screen to cover the drainage hole and keep the soil inside the pot.
Remove any dead or rotten roots... also, remove any dead leaves and outer layers of the bulb that may be dead and dried up or papery. At this point, I usually dust the bulb lightly with Captan, an anti-fungal powder. This helps keep the bulb from rotting. I also dust a little rooting hormone powder on the root area and basal plate.
Pot the bulb as you would, allowing about a half to two thirds of the bulb to remain above soil level. Lightly moisten and mix the medium before using it to pot up the bulb... this helps evenly distribute moisture when you water in plants. Lightly tamp down the medium around the bulb, and water it in until you see water come out the bottom of the pot. Allow it to drain, and dump any remaining water left in the saucer. You may want to stake and tie up the leaves so they don't flop all over the place, and label your bulb so you know what variety it is, if you already know.
Let's talk about soil... in our climate, we want a soil that drains well and doesn't hold too much moisture for too long... this can cause the bulbs and roots to rot. Hippeastrums prefer to dry out a bit in between waterings, and they hate "wet feet"! They almost thrive on neglect, it seems... within reason, of course! I've played around with different medium mixes for a while now, and I've recently learned a lot about what constitutes a good container mix, and why... and I've also learned a bit about proper watering and how water and soil affect container plants, etc...
Below, I've posted a link to a fabulously informational thread over at the Container Gardening Forum. It discusses soils and water, and how it all works in containers. It's an eye-opener, and it helped me understand the how and why of good container gardening. It also led me to the perfect medium for my bulbs, which are all thriving now, thanks to Al (tapla) at the Container Gardening Forum, and his recipes for container mediums!
Please read some of the other articles written by Al (tapla)... they are very educational and will help immensely if container gardening is something you do a lot of.
I have a moisture meter, too... but I don't trust it as much as I trust my finger. If you don't want to stick a finger down into the medium to around root level, you can use a bamboo skewer, available at any grocery store at about a dollar a pack. Stick the pointed end of the skewer into the soil until it sits at about root level and leave it there... take it out every once in a while and press it to your cheek... if you feel moisture, it's too soon to water... if the skewer comes out dry, water.
Hippeastrums are heavy feeders while in growth mode, so you'll want to fertilize. I use MiracleGro for houseplants at a diluted rate, and it seems to keep my bulbs happy. Others use different fertilizers... whatever works for you is fine.
I think the most important things to consider are the medium you use, and proper watering. Climate is another thing we need to consider... we're northerners, and we must grow indoors part of the year.
Now... go to the Container Gardening Forum and read those articles! They will help you understand container mediums and proper watering! Good Luck... and if you have any other questions, we're all happy to try and help!
Oh, and don't be alarmed if your bulbs lose a few leaves now and then... some die of old age, after they've done their part to help feed the bulb... photosynthesis, etc... as long as new leaves emerge at intervals, and the bulb itself remains firm and healthy, everything is fine.
A green thumb is nothing more than applied knowledge!
For the full discussion
Can I reuse an Amaryllis after it blooms?
I have a white one that is just finishing flowering. I am wondering if I can save it for next year? If so, do I just allow the foliage to whither like spring bulbs and should I plant it outdoors for the summer and bring indoors in the fall? I assume you cut back the flower stalk as soon as it finishes flowering?
Many people here save their seeds, sometimes to trade or just experiment with. There are a ton of posts on this site on how to manage your new plant, but basically, continue growing it in as much light as you can, at normal room temperature. Fertilize it regularly, and when the weather warms up at end of May you can even put it outside for the summer. If you keep the seedpods on the plant, after a couple of months when they mature, the pods will start to yellow and crack, and you will find lots of paper thin, black seeds inside. If the leaves start to fade, place the entire pot in a cool, dark area such as a basement, and let the plant go dormant for at least 6-8 weeks without water. Then clean up the bulb, repot it and restart the growing cycle.
Growing Amaryllis in general:
Amaryllis growing means HELP THE PLANT TO ADAPT TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT.
I do not grow them as house plants. My experience is, interfering with Mother Nature does not help. All of my experiments based on others advice, for getting early blooms, have failed. Although I still have three experiments going for getting early blooms as advised by the Amaryllis Study Group. My advice is, Do not try to change their cycle, protect them from extreme stresses, feed them keeping in view the requirement of other plants in the garden. Finally let them live and die, DO NOT TRY TO PLAY GOD.
Because we have taken them out of their natural habitat and changed the natural selection process by creating hybrids, we are already "playing God" to a certain extent. The trick now becomes "playing God" with responsibility and care.
The first thoughts should be... what growing environment do I have to offer these bulbs, and how much time and effort do I want to devote to them?
Protecting them from extreme stresses is a very good piece of advice. The growing environment you offer may have extremes that will require protecting from, or adapting to... such as harsh outdoor conditions, or indoor conditions that require supplement.
Hippeastrum bulbs are extremely forgiving, and as long as a few very basic rules are followed, their culture is relatively easy... do not allow the bulbs to freeze, do not over water them, give them plenty of light, and allow them an annual rest period, whether of their choosing or forced.
It has recently come to my attention that Hippeastrum bulbs not only shed their leaves before resting, they may also shed some of their roots. A portion of the root system may die off annually as the bulb rests, and may be replaced by new roots as active growth ensues. Due to the lack of a balanced micro-organism system within a container, it may be important to re-pot the bulbs annually in order to rid the medium of the excess dead root matter which will otherwise rest under the bulb, possibly causing fungal and rotting issues.
For further info see dormancy section
I have bug problems:
There are many types of bugs both inside & outside.
Outside bugs eating the leaves:
I would guess slugs or snails to be a possibility... if they are potted, you could try moving them to a location off the ground... and if they are in your garden, you might look into a systemic insecticide or snail bait.
You could get rid of most of the snails or slugs to keep further damage from happening... and there are several ways to do that. I've always heard that placing bowls of beer, set in the garden up to the rim, will help... the slugs and snails will drown in it. Then, just dump it. Another idea that I've heard works fairly well, is to place a sodden rolled up newspaper in the garden... the critters will hide in it come morning, and you just pick it up and toss it out.
There are also slug and snail baits available, but I've never used them. What I would probably do, is just keep as much of the dead leaves and debris cleaned up as possible... give them less to chomp on, and less hiding places. I hope it's nothing more serious than snails or slugs...
Narcissus Bulb Fly (NBF):
Tiny inside flying bugs (fungus gnats) :
Try watering your plant from the bottom in addition to any following advice.
Fungus gnats- you may be overwatering a soil with a high peat or coir content. They aren't terribly damaging unless you have seedlings, but they are an indicator of too much water in the soil or maybe a poor soil. Let things dry out and do some research on the container forum for good soils.
Help for fungus gnats
Ways to encourage root growth on newly purchased bulbs:
bottom heat absolutely makes a difference in promoting root growth! Whenever I have bulbs or bulblets without roots, I place them on my heating pad, under lights, and they root a lot faster than if I just set them on a windowsill.
I also use a rooting hormone powder to help. Between the extra heat and the powder, I'm assured root growth faster than if I didn't use anything. I've always done this to help in root production... seeds, cuttings, and now with bulbs... and I can attest to the quicker formation of healthy root systems.
Commercial greenhouses use large heat pads to promote faster root growth... especially here in the north. They help extend the growing season, giving plants a better head start.
Since bulbs are primed to bloom by the growers, I never worry about cutting off scapes or trying to get root production first. I pot up all new bulbs in medium and let them bloom or grow leaves, whichever they prefer... I know that eventually the bulbs will grow roots and begin their own cycles. Stubborn bulbs that are too slow to grow roots will be placed on my heat pad, and guaranteed, root growth will start shortly thereafter.
Part of the root problem stems from soil that is too compacted, breaks down too fast in the pot, and holds too much moisture at the root ball for too long a time. If you begin with a very gritty, porous, free-draining mix, you will eliminate this problem... I swear! You may have to water a little more often, but the trade off is certainly worth it!
See soil section
Amaryllis rootless experience this year
No roots on a blooming amaryllis help?
What to plant your new Amaryllis/Hippeastrum in:
Rocky Mt. RyanÂs soil mix:
75% are in bark, hydroton and peat mix.
20% are in 75% perlite, 25% bark
5% are in semi-hydro pots in hydroton.
Verdict still out on the semi-hydro-- but the hippi and African Violets in these pots are doing extremely well!
The 20% in the perlite are doing exceptionally well.
The rest in the hydroton bark and peat mix are mediocre at best.
Depending on the semi-hydro experiment, I may be switching all over to the hydroton.
Hope that wasn't too long!
KaboehmÂs Soil Mix:
I am getting happier with my mix of common stuff, and haven't lost anything planted in it yet! (started with seedlings and some young bulbs this spring).
Mine has more potting soil that Jodi's, but again, those photos of roots on my 4-, 7-, and 14-month bulbs don't lie!!
10 scoops Miracle Grow potting soil
5 scoops coarse sang
3 scoops perlite
2 scoops decomposed granite
now adding 2 scoops charcoal and may add 2 scoops of small lava rock (really little...) almost like more perlite I guess. So as I increase the inorganic, the proportion of organic becomes less. Again, the roots don't lie!
BetonklotzÂs soil mix:
For me the perfect medium is cocofibre at the moment, but I wouldn't recommend it without adding that I only use it because it works so fine with the bottom-watering method.
Jodik soil mix:
Unfortunately, I don't use exact measurements. I never have. Like I do in my kitchen, I eyeball amounts and tweak it all to get what I want. So here it is... sort of...
1. ReptiBark reptile bedding... which is screened pine bark pieces.
2. GraniGrit Poultry Grit... which is granite chips.
3. Perlite... just a plain old bag from any garden center or store. I currently have a bag from MiracleGro.
4. Controlled Release Plant Food... Osmocote.
I only make small batches at a time, and I'd guess you want to make a huge batch. I use a 2 or 5 gallon bucket, and I pour in about equal portions of the pine bark, granite chips, and perlite... to that... and a bit of Osmocote. Mix thoroughly, and tweak to the consistency that feels right.
Regarding the more inorganic mediums, such as Al's Mix... some ingredients will retain more moisture than others, so it's a good idea to think about the growing environment you'll be dealing with before mixing a large batch.
The fir/pine bark will be considered the staple ingredient in the mix I use, and since my environment causes pots to hold some moisture for a time, I'm using granite chips and perlite as the other two ingredients, neither of which will hold much moisture, if at all.
If you need more moisture retention, Turface or Hydroton would be good ingredients to incorporate. Vermiculite holds moisture, also.
Since beginning to use this type of mix, I've changed the ingredients I use. At current, I'm using just fir bark, perlite, and granite chips.
Anyone interested in this type of mix can do some reading on bonsai soils, and find out how the Masters approach mediums. Very educational, and very interesting reading. The Container Gardening Forum holds a plethora of excellent information on this subject, as well.
The most important part of using any medium with success is understanding how it works, and why it works. It's also crucial to understand that a garden is much different than a pot, and each environment requires a different approach if absolute success is to obtained. Once it's understood how all of the parts of a planted container behave together, the rest of it will all fall into place.
Al Tapla's Soil Mix:
I'll give two recipes. I usually make big batches. I also frequently add agricultural sulfur to some soils for acid-lovers or to soils I use dolomitic lime in.
Al Tapla's 5-1-1 Mix
5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime - Dolomitic.
controlled release fertilizer (not really necessary)
a micro-nutrient source (seaweed emulsion, Earthjuice, Micro-max, STEM, etc,)
2-3 cu ft pine bark fines
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)
2 cups CRF (if preferred)
1/2 cup micronutrient powder (or other source of the minors)
3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)
1/4 cup CRF
micro-nutrient powder (or other source of the minors)
Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention
Fertilizer what kind & how much:
Jim _thomerson says:
Hippies like fertilizer. Use one where the first number is equal to, or lower than, the other two; say 15-15-15 or 5-10-12. The numbers are for nitogen, phosphorus and potassium. I use bulb fertilizer, rose fertilizer, and tomato fertilizer. Generally, any any fertilizer for blooms will have low nitrogen. If you give hippies too much nitrogen you get a long-leafed sprawley plant not much interested in blooming. A lot of people use low levels of liquid fertilizer with every watering.
With mine I fertilize in the summer only with water soluable after the blooms are spent. It makes the foliage attractive and heavy roots. In the fall I change out the pots to fresh dirt and add the old to my compost pile.
For dirt I use composted pine needles. It works very good and doesn't get water logged.
I use liquid MiracleGro at about half strength or less every time I water. I also add micro-nutrients at about the same strength. I keep a constant supply of food going to the roots.
I also flush my pots every once in a while with plain, clear water... which helps leach out any accumulated salts and excess fertilizer.
Osmocote is slow release, and if you read Al's articles, he adds some to his mixes when he builds a soil. I don't, for the simple reason that I mix small batches and I don't want to add too much fertilizer. I feed regularly, so there's really no need.
Your question about fertilizers is a good one, though... we've discussed it here before, and it seems that different growers feed differently.
I've got the medium and watering down to a workable science... next, I need to learn more about fertilizers!
So, my answer is... at this point in time, I recommend an all purpose plant food at low strength, fed on a constant basis, and an occasional leaching. I'll be the first to admit that the fertilizer question is my weak point in gardening knowledge.
The one thing I do know about plant food is that it's necessary to feed container plants a food that's already broken down and usable to the plant... and this ties in with the vast differences between container gardening and gardening in the ground/garden beds, where the necessary army of microorganisms work to break down compost into usable food.
In her book on Hippeastrum culture, Veronica Read recommends a fertilizer lower in nitrogen than the other two main fertilizer ingredients, and recommends commencing feeding once the bulb has finished blooming.
My next quest will be finding out more about fertilizers, and what regimen is best for hybrid Hippeastrum bulbs.
I use MiracleGro liquid houseplant food, Superthrive occasionally, and a trace mineral concoction sent to me by a friend.
Others use different feeding methods... organic fertilizers, fish emulsion, MiracleGro products, etc...
I've learned a bit more about fertilizers... using a bloom fertilizer is a waste... and we have this right from the horse's mouth, the CEO of a large fertilizer company. The original post is somewhere over on the Container Gardening Forum, but the quote was, "A bloom fertilizer isn't necessary, but it's easier to give the people what they THINK they need, than it is to re-educate them."
Because of how the N, P, and K in fertilizers react together, using more P than N is a waste of P. I highly suggest reading about fertilizers in the Container Gardening Forum. Again, there's some very educational information shared by some very experienced/expert gardeners.
Jim ThomersonÂs full discussion
JodikÂs full discussion
Fertilizer Program - Containerized Plants (Long Post)
Growing Hippeastrum from seed:
How about an easy simple way that I tried a few weeks ago. Using a mini-doughnut container, I poked like six 1/4 inch in the bottom and placed an inch of Jiffy seed mix in it. Slightly wet it with warm water, plant the seeds deep enough to just slightly covering them with the mix. Spray warm water until it runs off at the holes. Close the lid and place in warm and bright place. Check container once in a while for moisture build up and soil dryness. Too much moisture...slightly open the lid till moisture evaporates then close it again. If soil mix turns light brown and container is light in weight, bottom water till it gets enough water...mix would turn dark brown. Once seedlings emerge, slightly open lid and bottom water with very slightly fertilized water. I'm still learning how this method would do with Amaryllis seeds. Been very successful doing this with my vegetable and flowering seeds though. So far so good, after 18 days...the seedlings are starting to sprout. I'll try to post pics later...Good Luck and Have Fun!
For pics see this link
You prepare substrate from coco peat blocks (compressed coco husk fibers) and fill boxes wich numerous (additionally drilled holes)in the ground plate.
You form lines with a broken ruler piece and you transfer seed by seed into these lines - one beside the other, upright. You continue with parallel lines in approximately 3 cm distances each. Then you close these lines cautiously with the aid of this ruler and perhaps distrÃbute a little bit more substrate so that the seeds are all just covered.
With a fine hotspur you water VERY cautiously - the seeds should not been washed out - this is very likely to occurr as the seed bed is so loose initially.
Then you impregnate the surface with an insecticidal spray - very thin please, but very uniformly. Omitting this only seemingly obsolete measure might have a fatal consequence: Your work will be likely to be consumed by fungus gnats or better the maggots therof. I speak from bitter experience - and I a absolutely SURE - that this is of transantlantic relevance for you, too (the fungus gnat has to be regarded as a cosmopolite)
Keep the boxes at at dark place initially and where they will not dry out so quickly. If ever possible avoid to cover them. Maintain a temperature range of 20 to 25Â°Celsius.
The substrate surface will become dry after approx. 10 days. Then water again, and apply so much lukewarm water that the whole substrate will be soaked and brown colored water is draining from the holes.
Repeat this superficial spraying in order to renew the antiinsectic protection of the germinating seeds.
When the first seeds germinate, transfer the box to a well lighted place - consider installing fluorescent tubes (the area related electric installation being in the magnitude of 200 watts / m2 ).
When the seedlings are growing you continue watering in an even far more profound manner, using lukewarm water with diluted fertilzer every time. I use one liquid 6-3-6 at 1 mL/L. I always put the boxes over a container and I really flush the substrate with a very big quantity of water.
If the prevalence of fungus gnats is very high in your region you should continue spraying after each watering - pleas consider that the seedling must not be hit by the spray. For this reasion it is so practical that the seedlings emerge in rows with 3 cm distance each - simply spray between the lines.
Let the substrate dry out rather profoundly between these thorough waterings. Naturally this kind of cycle has to be performed rather cautiously when the seedlings are still young and it can become more distinct as the seedlings grow up and their roots have grown deeper into the substrate
I can not give a recommendation which can be slavishly followed.
Keeping moist all the time is disadvantageous and letting dry out one day too much can become fatal, too.
So this is for the beginning - then consult the competent members of this forum let's say after 4 months again for further briefing.
Looking forward to hear from your experiennces with your amaryllogene kindergardens
For pics see this link
I had read you can start the seed by floating in water , so I just used heated water , every where I read said the seeds that sink will not sprout but they did .
Here is the text I found in an other forum I hopeit is not to long
Here is the California Method of Germination
CALIFORNIA METHOD OF GERMINATING AMARYLLIS SEED.
Select a clear glass container with as much surface available as possible. Fill 2/3 with water. Begin with very warm, but not hot, water. Float each amaryllis seed on the surface, either side up. They should not touch, but they may drift to touching and there's no real harm done. Put the container in a place with strong light but not in direct sun. The non-viable seed will sink to the bottom and may be removed. After a few days, each viable seed will put down a white root. When the root is a half-inch or so long, prepare pots with your choice of potting mix. You may make a community pot with several seeds in it, or prepare one pot for one seed. I prefer the latter because you do not have to transplant again nearly as soon. Poke a hole in the potting mix and gently put the white root into the mix, leaving the seed flat on the surface. Place mix around root. Water gently. Place flats with pots in strong light, but not yet sunlight. In a few days you will see a grasslike blade arising from each leaf. Gradually move pots into stronger light. Ultimately, place the pots in the strongest light available, but only early morning or late afternoon sun. The amaryllis will form tiny bulbs that increase as time goes on. A weak fertilizer (Peters 20-20-20 is fine, but diluted from usual strength) may be given every 10 days or two weeks. Keep the amaryllis growing right through the winter. They do not need to go dormant until they have a rather large bulb. Sometimes a bloom can occur in as little as 18 months, but more normally, blooms occur from 18 months to 3 years. You need move the small amaryllis into larger pots only when they really get potbound. Even then moving them into a four-inch pot will suffice for several years. If the seed are good when you begin, there will be nearly 100% germination with this method. If you keep them moist, but not wet, they will continue to grow and thrive during the crucial first few months. Drying out is not good for the very young plants. They may also be grown successfully under fluorescent lights for the first year or so.
This method floats seed until the root is developing and some folks will float till leaves are growing. Some just soak overnight then plant. One item I have always been told is that the seeds viability is short and the sooner planted the higher the germination. Store in the fridge if you need to hold them for any length of time. The Clemson link under the Slicing Bulbs topic will help with ideas also plus it gives recomended fertilizer rates for the babies.
I wait for the stigma to seperate into the 3 sticky stigma before I take the anthers and dust with pollen. I also take pollen from the anther of one bloom and dust the stigma of others ( because I heard it makes stronger seed ) the blooms fade within 2 - 3 days after you pollinate them and I don't remove the drying blooms, waiting for them to dry up in place and fall off.
We plant the seeds in a 'community' tray for the first 1 ~ 2 years, then put them in seperate pots. I also let the seedlings dry out between waterings ( similar to Jade and Kalanchoe plants )
How to grow from seeds
It does take a couple of month for the pods to develop and ripen and the seeds should be sown as soon as possible after the pod splits as viability does not last very long. I have stored seed in the fridge in an air tight container and gotten 50% germination rate after 2 months.
Seed is sow directly on top of pre-moistened potting mix that is kept moist by bottom watering. Seed can also be sprouted by floating them on water and then carefully pricking the tiny seedlings out and planting them. Once the seeds are sown and germinated some bottom heat is helpful. Seedlings are keep growing until at least their second full season and only then allowed to rest if they begin to go dormant - some do and some don't.
It can take as long as four years from seed to first flowers or as quick as 2 years. The offspring from a selfed plant will most likely NOT look like the parent as it is a hybrid and has a hundred years or more of hybridizing in it's heritage and whenever hybrid plants produce seed the genome is mixed and something new and/or different can come to the surface and be reviled!
It IS FUN and EXCITING, but one needs patience! It IS worth the wait though!
"I also take pollen from the anther of one bloom and dust the stigma of others ( because I heard it makes stronger seed )"
Sorry, but this isn't true if the other bloom is from the same bulb or a clone of this bulb, it won't change anything. The genetic code is exactly the same so no offense to you but this won't have an effect.
Or did I understood you wrong? If you're taking pollen from another variety or perhaps the same one but of another plant that was propagated via seeds, than what you're saying should be true ... most of the time.
Cross-pollinating is really interesting, I'd recommend everyone not to self your flowers since even then the result may vary strongly from the mother- (and father-)plant.
My recommendations for people new to the crossing business:
1. try to pollinate as much as you can and label every bloom with the name of the pollen parent. Even if you can't or don't want to keep all of the seeds.
2. Put the freshly harvested seeds in plastic boxes and label those. The easiest way is to use the scientific nomenclature: "pollen parent x motherplant". It's always good to know how well some crosses germinate. Keep the seedlings in the water until the second leaf appears. Cange water regulary and wash the plastic container. I had good results with small plastic lunchboxes (?) that I could close well.
I know that some prefer to sow directly. I chosed this method because I'm only planting the seeds that germinated and I know how much space they'll need. Also here I can already chose the strongest.
3. Just when the second leaf appears on some of the seedlings in one container, I plant them in pure cocofibre. Even if you don't like this medium for your grown up bulbs, for the babies it works really well. After they settled in, start watering with a slight amount of fertilizer. Just 1/5 or less of the recommended amount in the instructions.
4. As your seedlings are getting bigger you might want to repot them in bigger container. If you can't keep all of them take the ones with the most leaves and the biggest bulbs.
That's it, good luck with all of your crosses!
How to correctly label parentage of seedlings:
Seed donor (mother plant) x pollen donor (father plant)
The seed donor (mother plant) is listed before the pollen donor.
How long for seeds to sprout?
Generally speaking, I would consider Hippeastrum seeds slow to germinate. Some varieties or crosses might sprout relatively quickly, but other varieties can take up to a month or so. I don't give up on them until at least 3 months have passed.
How long are seeds viable?
If stored properly, Hippeastrum seeds can remain viable for quite a long time, perhaps a year or so... but as time progresses, the rate of germination will fall, of course. The temperature and humidity they're stored at will play a role.
It's best to plant them within... oh, I'd say the first 6 months, or thereabouts... but if you can't, you still will most likely get a good amount to grow if you have lots of seeds.
I would definitely give them a try when it warms up... what have you got to lose?! I plan on planting my leftovers from last year when our weather warms up. I don't expect them all to germinate, but some should. I've kept them in airtight containers in an average temperature, and in the dark.
It will be interesting to see how far we can push the envelope, so to speak, with regards to storage time!
Artificial Lighting for Amaryllis indoors (Mature bulbs):
What have people used before that works? I live in an apartment that faces North East and as a result I don't get enough sun for my babies. I'm currently using a 250W Halogen light situated above my plants (far enough away so as to not burn them) however that does not seem to be enough as the leaves appear to be somewhat thinner etc. From researching about foot candles etc online, it appears that Halogen lighting is not quite as efficient as lets say High Pressure Sodium lights or Metal Halide. I'm considering buying a 400W unit but I think it's going to have to be High Pressure Sodium as that throws off more light in the red end of the spectrum needed for flowering etc. Since I don't pay power here, the power bill is not a big deal however I'm concerned about the heat buildup. The apartment has cement ceilings so there is no risk of burning anything there. I can situate a fan so it blows air onto the fixture to keep the fixture cool.
Feedback would be greatly appreciated. I think that the 400W fixture will do the trick for high enough light for my babies. Can you tell I'm slightly addicted :-). Gerard.
Yes 400 Watt high pressure lights are good and can supply 2 m2 very well.
I presume that the following Lamps are the very best high pressure sodium discharge lamps:
400 Watts Plantastar (55000 Lumens, from Osram)
400 Watts SON-T-Agro (55000 Lumens; Philips)
both with E40 socket.
Rebecca47Âs thoughts on lightining:
Lighting for Hippies need not be elaborate nor costly. East or South facing windows do well with some sheers to protect against foliage burn in summer. Don have the "right windows" then regular florescent "shop lights" will work nicely when fitted with one cool whit and one warm white tube., the trick is to keep the lights as close as possible to the foliage and/or bloom stem without burning the bud s or foliage. You can also hand one over a window to use for supplemental lighting in the evening and on heavy overcast days.
During the warm growing month hippies can be grown in the garden tucked in among your perennials and protected from the strongest sun that can burn the leaves. (Care should be taken to "hard off" any hippies moved outside after several weeks/months of growing indoors.)In the colder zone the bulbs are brought indoors before the first frost and allowed to continue to grow and mature their foliage. OR one can precondition their bulbs to go into a dormant period prior to bring the bulbs indoors in the fall.
Growing Amaryllis/Hippeastrums as House Plants is not hard not "tricky". Meeting the plants basic needs and cultural requirements is all it really takes. Some varieties are just easier for one to meet their needs than others!
I have maybe 20 species and F1 hybrids now and I use 2 400W MH (AgroSun)bulbs as the color of the light is much more pleasant (HPS looks like a sickly old horror movie to me) and I could care less about flower production...they flower outside in the summer when they are inclined to based on natural genetics and the color spectrum of MH is supposedly better for leaf and therefore bulb growth. Of course, I also have many other aroids under these lights and they flower from bare tubers and so lighting is not an issue.....you only want to increase tuber size to get to flowering size on these plants. Heat is also not an issue on any HID light if you keep a fan at low speed to get decent air circulation so this is not a problem.....in fact, I have to supply supplemental heat to the bottom of the pots since they are in my basement and they would be forced into dormancy at the 50-55F temps they see down there all winter. The only problem is the cost as we pay 10 cents per KWhr.....OUCH and I run the 800W for 16 hrs per day. It will be interesting to hear how yours do....I hope that they grow like mad for you :o) Dan
For the rest of the discussion
Artificial Lighting for Amaryllis indoors (seedlings):
I've been successful now in using 400W HID lights. You can use either Sodium Vapor or I believe the Metal Halide Lamps. They are more expensive that fluorescent setups but they do provide the footcandles necessary for proper growth. They would work very well for seedlings. If you do use fluorescent lights, make sure you have the seedlings no more than an inch from the lights to keep them nice and stocky. Of course, when the weather warms up in spring, you can get them outdoors in the full sun. Run the fluorescents for 12 to 14 hours a day. Longer is better than shorter duration wise. Remember to keep the lights as close as you can to the seedlings. Also, Don't worry about having special fluorescents for growing plants. You can get away with cool white bulbs which will be the cheapest and they'll keep the seedlings stocky.
For more details
What is growing on the side of my bulb & what do I do with it:
Amaryllis have little offshoots starting near the mother bulb called bulblets. Just let them grow with the mother plant. What I do is put the pots outside all summer, fertilize them with liquid fertilizer then in the fall bring them into the basement to rest in their pots for few months. Then restart them in January.
If bulblets form, you'll see smaller sets of leaves rising alongside the mother bulb as it grows over the summer. I wouldn't be in a hurry to detach them - they'll grow faster connected to the main bulb.
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