Many years ago, I think it was 2010, a co-worker gave each lady in the office a boxed amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift. I had never had one and was a little skeptical about it because I had tried forcing paperwhites that came in a similar packaging and had little luck with them. Most of the women took theirs home, but since I had a nice, sunny window at that time of the year I set mine up in my little office.
Fairly quickly it sprouted and produced a tall stalk with a vibrant red bloom worthy of its variety name of Red Lion. It was much admired and enjoyed by all; everyone reported back their similar success and each of us had a different variety, so it was quite fun.
After the bloom faded I took the bulb home, pitched the paper pot, and planted it in a pot. The following April it amazed me with another stalk that had several large, red blooms. The bulb multiplied in the coming year and again, the next year produced some showy blooms. Several times I dug up the bulbs and divided the excess among friends, always knowing that the bulbs would produce lovely blooms for them to enjoy.
After a few years I realized that its blooms would usually coincide with Easter Holy Week, either opening up or being at full bloom during that week. From time to time I would see amaryllis bulbs for sale in the garden center, but at price of $15-18 per bulb I would pass on by. This fall Home Depot had a large display of bulbs, some in the boxes to be given as gifts and others sealed in breathable plastic bags. Priced at $6.98 each I knew it was meant to be, so I brought home 2 bulbs.
They resided in the garage for a while and in time, we had our first cold front and it was unusually cold for several days. I finally told myself that I had to plant the bulbs and put them in separate pots, promptly forgetting which bulb was which. I watered well and knew that they would be happy in the location with the Red Lions where they would receive morning sun. I expected to see them bud in the spring…
In mid-December I found a display of bulbs at a local upscale, grocery and specialty store. They were piled in bins with markers and just slightly more than the bulbs from Home Depot, so why not add some more? I brought two bulbs home thinking I had a white and a red and white bulb to add to the collection. I was about to turn cold, so I left them on a bench under the eave of the house to absorb the cold.
In a few days I planted them and added them to the collection of pots in the morning sun. I watered well and gave all the amaryllis a little shot of fertilizer – a little Christmas cheer for them! Again, I awaited spring blooms.
The Apple Blossom and Minerva had produced some healthy green leaves fairly quickly, but I wasn’t prepared for what I found on December 29th. A budding stalk pushing its way up from the bulb. What???? No way this should be happening, or so I thought. I was quite pleased when on New Year’s Day the other bulb also produced a bud. In due time both produced two stalks and some very lovely blooms to enjoy.
The other bulbs did nothing, just sitting in their common pot. Another shot of fertilizer brought them to life and soon I was watching their stalks push up, thinking I had two different varieties.
I did a little research (why hadn’t I done this sooner, I ask) and found that amaryllis bloom from late December until the middle of June and that a larger bulb will produce more flowers. So, really, these were just doing what they were supposed to do. In addition, if they aren’t planted then they are to be stored at 40-50 F, which is exactly where the temperature was during the time between their purchase and planting. A perfect amaryllis storm without even knowing what I was doing!
When the first bloom opened I realized that I did not have a red and white variety, but instead had hit the double jackpot. You see, I had a Red Peacock variety that is a double bloom!
It was a stunning display of color and flower! I was so enjoying it when the second bulb began to flower. Imagine my surprise when it opened and I had a second Red Peacock flower appear! Both bulbs gave me two stalks with phenomenal blooms that lasted for several weeks! I was thrilled to have something so beautiful growing in a pot in my front yard! I’m also excited to know that I will have bulbs to share with others – it has already produced two small bulbs.
Not to be outdone, the first Red Lion stalk appeared around the first of April and, as usual, was quite showy during Holy Week. A fifth stalk has appeared this week, but no others appear forthcoming, so this may be it for the season. Some years it has been profuse in blooms and others not so much. I now believe that the fall temperatures have been controlling its budding.
The blooms this year are very large, several are almost 7 inches in diameter. One stalk was so heavy that it couldn’t support the weight of the 3 blooms, so I cut it off and put it in a vase to enjoy inside.
When I saw that first bud in December, I knew it was a sign that 2020 was going to be a good year. Right now it may not seem that way with the rona-virus ravaging our planet. But the amaryllis have given me much joy and despite what is going on in the world, they have followed their intended schedule and bloomed faithfully. It’s a sign to me that just as nature, God’s creation, continues to function so will the human population. We just need to keep blooming.