Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Small Story

I have probably explained this habit of mine before, but I will tell about my relationship (addiction) with Amaryllis plants.

Over the years I would receive one as a gift and being the frugal person and lover of plants that I am, I would see if I could keep the bulb alive for the next year. I knew that the bulb would only bloom once and then spend its months restoring itself with just the lovely large leaves. I would cut the dead blossom (sometimes removing the pollen while it bloomed so that the blossom would last longer) and then keep the plant watered and in sun inside my house until the weather permitted me to move the pot outside. I would continue to nurture the plant outside until September when I would stop watering and move it into a dry area where it would not get the rain. Once the leaves started to yellow and wilt -- usually before the really cold nights -- I would cut the leaves, make sure the soil was dry and then pack the plant away into a dark place in my basement until the next season.

I got into the habit of forcing the amaryllis to bloom in February when nothing else was going to provide me such beauty except leggy pontsettias after the winter holidays and before the spring blooms began. Over time I had collected and forced each year about 25 of these bulbs. They lined the space along the windows in my family room. And I probably looked a little silly hauling all the pots outside each year and back inside in the fall. I gave most of them away when we sold the house and had to move into the rental house.

With each additional move I got rid of a few more.

Three weeks ago when I was cleaning this tiny apartment I moved a small bench to vacuum near the kitchen wall. There was a black garbage bag with something heavy inside. I assumed it was some boat or fishing gear that my hubby had tucked away. Well, I am sure you are way ahead of me and realize it was one of the amaryllis plants. It happened to be my largest that has multiple bulbs in one pot that I have not had time to separate.

I brought it out and saw that it had not even begun to send up any shoots even though it was months behind schedule. I was sure that it was dead and not just dormant, but I watered it anyway and placed it next to our kitchen window. Well, as you can see, in three short weeks, it has rewarded me tremendously!

There is some lesson in this about patience or unrequited love or something and if I was more energetic some haiku or poem that I should create...but I am just happy to be so lucky!


  1. I don't think the work you put into this is silly in the least. Imagine having something this beautiful to look at in the dead of winter.

  2. Wow, great story. I love flowers and plants but I just don't have much luck with them. I try.

  3. Ok, ms amaryllis queen - tell me, please: we have 3 bulbs in one pot which we planted in dec., all together. one bulb bloomed in jan, one in feb, and the last in march. they all still have green leaves and live in our window sill. what to do now? i want them to go into dormancy until winter. i want the leaves to stop being green but don't know what i should do to get them there safely. i prefer to force bloom again in winter. these are our first bulbs. thanks for your advice! :)

  4. If your weather is not frosty in the evenings, place them outside on the deck or near the house where they will receive some sun and some shade. Keep them watered at least once a week, twice if you have dry weather. Add a liquid fertilizer once a month. In the fall, mid September to late September stop watering them and move them so they don't get any rain. Wait 3-6 weeks until the foliage starts to yellow. Cut it off and let the plant dry. I bag it in a black garbage bag and put it in the darkest , coolest part of the basement. In early January take the pot out and soak it in VERY WARM water and place it near light, eventually moving it to direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist and the plant should start to reward you...just remember that it may take a few seasons to get it on the winter schedule. The hardest part is forgetting to get the plant from the basement!

  5. That forgotten and neglected Amaryllis plant blooming now; Is a haiku in itself

    "Red amaryllis
    sleeping in winter's darkness
    welcomes light and blooms again"

  6. It's beautiful, oh Miss Green Thumb.

  7. Sky asked my question I had on this one! You and my hubby Dave are kindred spirits in the flower bulb world. He buys bulbs like some women buy shoes. LOL


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