The showy African amaryllis

There are few bulbs as spectacular in bloom as the African amaryllis.

My first bulb was given to me 11 years ago and it has bloomed 10 times since then. In fact, it only takes about six weeks in a sunny south window, with watering, to bloom.

Unlike most flowering bulbs the amaryllis needs to have the top half of the bulb out of the ground or it will rot. It seems to do as well in a light porous soil as in a heavier soil.

Once the flower has opened, you can prolong the blooming time as much as two weeks by putting it in a cooler room.

After the bloom has faded, carefully cut off the flower stem with a sharp knife. You may find that some of the leaves will fall over at this time because they have lost the support of the flower stem, but usually they will come back up. The bulb now begins forming next year's flower. Thus it can use an occasional watering of liquid plant food.

After six months, put it in a dark, cool corner of the basement. In another six months, the cycle starts again.

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