Why Is The Red Amaryllis So Popular?
The Red Amaryllis may be as popular as it is for much the same reason a red rose is popular. The color. While amaryllis blossoms come in a variety of colors, some of them rather rare and exotic, the Red Amaryllis seems to stand out. Of the many on line retailers specializing in flower bulbs, cut flowers, or flower arrangement, they often specify Red Amaryllis when mentioning amaryllis at all. Viewing images of Red Amaryllis will show why this is the case. Its large, lily-shaped flowers, usually four to a stalk, can be quite stunning, either as a bouquet, in a mixed bouquet, or arranged as a wreath. If you order a Red Amaryllis as a cut flower, you will usually get, shipped express, several budded stalks. Once placed in water (instructions will usually be provided), one only has to wait a day or two before the beautiful flowers open.
Store Cool, But Never Freeze - And Avoid Apples! - Another reason behind the popularity of the Red Amaryllis is the fact that it is easy to force bloom indoors and it makes a fine holiday centerpiece for the dinner table. The fact that an amaryllis will bloom indoors in December or January does not mean that it is a winter hardy plant. A native of South America it is very definitely a tropical to semi-tropical plant, and the bulbs cannot be left in the ground in any location where they could freeze. Bulbs can be stored in a refrigerator to keep over the winter months, but definitely not in the freezing compartment. Almost any article on storing amaryllis bulbs will mention the refrigerator as a good option, but will mention in the same breath not to store the bulbs anywhere apples are stored, or the bulbs will become sterile.
Forcing Indoor Blooms - If you want to force a Red Amaryllis, plant the bulb in a pot about 8 weeks before you want it to bloom. If you want a Red Amaryllis on the Christmas table, the bulb should be planted no later than Halloween. Make certain the pot being used has good drainage. A sealed pot is unlikely to give satisfactory results. Once of the most common reasons for failure is over watering. Give the bulb a good watering when first planted and then withhold watering until green sprouts appear. If the soil appears to dry out completely, water once a week, but from the bottom up. In other words, place the pot in a pan of water. If the bulb is watered too often and allowed to stay moist, it will rot. Once leaves have emerged, a light watering once or twice a week will suffice until flowers appear.
Planting Out Of Doors - If the bulbs are to be planted outside in the spring, place them in a good mixture of potting soil, or premixed soil and compost. The bulb is placed in the soil, whether in the ground or in a pot, with soil up to, but not covering, its neck. The bulb or bulbs should be watered sparingly until growth appears, then more frequent watering becomes the rule. If planted out of doors, a good piece of advice is to stagger the planting over 2 or 3 weeks to get a continuous bloom of beautiful Red Amaryllis. Sometimes, if after flowering has stopped, cutting the stem and foliage back to the neck of the bulb will result in a second blooming. In the fall, the bulbs will have to be dug up and stored in a cool place unless the winters are very mild. Even in mild winter areas it's a good idea to dig up the bulbs, since if the winters are very wet the dormant bulbs stand a chance of rotting in the soil.
Obviously your choice of an amaryllis is not constrained to the red variety. Some of the more exotic, though somewhat rare colors, include Lemon-Line, Royal Velvet, and Snow White. But there is just something about the Red Amaryllis that seems to set it apart.