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Amaryllis in North Florida, Zone 8+
For the past 13 years I have been growing Amaryllis here near Jacksonville, FL in Orange Park. I started with 13 bulbs (3 different)that I d...

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2001 9:02 pm    Post subject: Amaryllis in North Florida, Zone 8+ Reply with quote

For the past 13 years I have been growing Amaryllis here near Jacksonville, FL in Orange Park. I started with 13 bulbs (3 different)that I dug near my Mother-in-law's farmhouse near Pensacola. She said the bulbs came from a friend of hers about 50 years ago. Those original bulbs have multiplied to well over 10,000 since then. I have sold thousands, started some from seed about 8 years ago and have replanted any new offsets every few years. Two are red with a white star. One of these is a very dark red with a distinct white star that blooms in March. The other has a white star with more "veining" into the red area, more like Minerva. It blooms mid April. The third bulb is the earliest bloomer that I have out of 250 different varieties. It usually starts blooming the last week of February and it is more of an orange with a distinct cream star in the center, much like the bulb called Salmon Pearl, which is a "gracillis" or miniature amaryllis. All of these are old "heirloom" type bulbs probably called Hippeastrum "Johnsonii" in literature. They were early hybrids that have been passed around for generations and the origins are not very clear. Johnsinii is usually described as a red with a small white star in the middle of the bloom. In the past 13 years, I have picked up maybe a dozen or more of these. All have slightly different color patterns, blooming times and offset patterns. Some have bulbs that are quite large, most are smaller than recent hybrid bulbs and some have small shiny bulbs with very tiny offsets. All of these readily form seeds.
As already stated, I have about 250 unique types of Amaryllis. Most of these are named varieties that I have purchased from at least 25 different catalogs. At least 30 of them are doubles. Many are miniature, gracillis, and I even have a few species. I keep all of the bulbs in the ground year-round, except for Papilio "Butterfly". It blooms for me in Feb. and March and is supposed to stay green all year. My Papilio offsets bloom in the 4th year and usually start making new offsets in about the 3rd year. Papilio always has 2 blooms, however larger bulbs often will have two or more bloom stalks. On occasion they will bloom in the summer. All Amaryllis need almost full sun and a good draining soil.
If planted outside where it freezes, the bulb must be just below the surface so it will not be damaged. In pot culture, the bulb should be at least 1/3 out of the soil. Only the basal plate of the bulb is active anyway, so having most of the bulb exposed will not hurt it.
Most hybrid bulbs will form offsets. Sometimes it might take several years. The doubles, however, are very reluctant to offset. Many of mine have never formed offsets even after many years. Doubles will never form seeds while most others will, especially if you hand polinate. I will not go into bulb cuttage or seed propagation, since there is ample information on the internet on reproducing bulbs.
Amaryllis will do well when allowed to form clumps, but they do not seem to be slowed much by lifting the bulb every few years. I would suggest early fall. This gives the bulb time to root before the cold weather sets in. That way the bulb will not tip over when it blooms in the spring.
If you cut off a bloom stalk just as the first bud is starting to open, the rest will continue to open on their own while you enjoy them inside in a vase. I have so many bulbs that I do not remove the bloom stalks after the flowers are finished. Preventing the seeds from forming will give the bulb more energy to grow, of course.
Amaryllis are one of the more rewarding flowers to grow in the South, in my opinion. This is especially true if you have enough different kinds to extend the blooming season. My blooms go from late Feb through May. Many of mine alternate with daylilies, so about the time the Amaryllis are finished, the daylilies are starting.
Amaryllis are actually Hippeastrum and not true Amaryllis, but they are distant relatives to many other common plants that we grow. For the sheer size of the bloom and range of colors from white, yellow, pink, red and every combination you can imagine, I highly recommend that you try to grow some. They are truly a "plant and forget" type of plant with no special watering or feeding needs and they are almost pest free, except for our large Lubber grasshoppers that love them.
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