Friday, October 17, 2008

In the bag: amaryllises

With frost forecast for the next night or so, it's time to bring in my amaryllises. They spent the summer lolling about in a sheltered spot, catching some rays, regularly sipping a liquid fertilizer, and generally enjoying the plant spa treatment. Their bulbs needed to recharge after putting out blooms last winter. Now that they've worked so hard to build up their strength, they need to rest, really rest.

There are a number of ways to put amaryllises through dormancy. Some folks just store the potted bulbs in a cool location. But my house doesn't have a garage or basement that maintains that stable low, but not too low, temperature. So I stash the unpotted bulbs in my refrigerator for 8-10 weeks before starting them on the next bloom cycle. At least, that's what I did last year, and it worked.

First, I cut off the leaves and remove the bulbs from their pots. Amaryllises like to be pot-bound. These were. Seriously.

Then, I tease out the roots. Anyone who has combed the snarled hair of a toddler has the skills necessary for this task: patience and a gentle hand.

On the side of a no-name pink striped cultivar, a little bulblet had sprouted leaves and roots.

With a gentle nudge, it separated from the mother bulb. This little fellow will look so cute planted in a 2 inch pot come spring!

Each bulb goes into its own bag. One of my refrigerator crisper drawers is crammed full with forcing bulbs: hyacinths, narcissi, and now amaryllises. Before I put them away, I wash the pots with a dilute bleach solution in order to maintain good garden hygiene.

I'm hoping in three or four months, this is what I'll see budded up on my window sill.


Nan said...

This is a fantastic idea. I've always felt badly that amaryllises get thrown out after their bloom. Now it would be worth getting one or two! Thanks so much.

diana said...

Wow, just wow.