Find a home for that amaryllis

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, February 4, 2015

If you received an amaryllis plant as a gift this past Christmas, now is the time to start wondering what to do with it.

Before I give you the practical dos and don’ts, I want to share some fun facts. Approximately 75 species of amaryllis exist; all are members of the genus Hippeastrum which means “horse star” in reference to the star-shaped flowers. Barbados Lily is another common name.

The amaryllis was discovered in South America but a few species originated in Africa. The plant was named after Amaryllis, a Greek shepherdess in the Idylls of Theocritus.

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The word amaryllis means sparkling in Greek. Hybridization of the amaryllis began centuries ago. Commercial propagation is done by cloning. Small offsets produced by the parent bulb are separated and grown to a larger size.

Now to the practical stuff. After the blooms fade, cut off the stalk.Do not cut the leaves. As with other bulbs, the amaryllis derives its energy through the leaves and stores the energy in the bulb. Continue to keep the plant moist and fertilized and in a sunny window.

After the last frost, you can plant the amaryllis outdoors, pot and all. Before the first frost in the fall, take the pot back indoors to a sunny window but withhold water and fertilizer. After the leaves turn brown, cut them off several inches above the bulb and store the potted bulb in a cool dry place.

A closet or basement will work fine. After about three months, take the potted bulb back to the window and keep it warm and moist. Flowers will appear in a few weeks. The amaryllis does best with a restricted root system, so it seldom needs repotting.

On to the tricky part if you want to plant the amaryllis outside. My research tells me amaryllis can be grown outside only in plant zones 9-11. Natchez is in zone 8b so we are right on the edge. I have a friend in Natchez with some amaryllis that are planted outside and they put on a fabulous show every spring. If you want to try planting the amaryllis outside, follow the instructions above except when you plant it outside do not plant it in the pot. You should have blooms the following spring. Be brave and try it!

Q: What are the berries that appeared on my roses last fall?

A: They are rosehips, which are the seed pods that come out at the end of season. They only come out if you neglect to prune. They are full of vitamin C and are edible if you have not used pesticides on the plant.

You can easily make rosehip tea. First cut the rosehips in half and remove the seeds. Then put a handful of them into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Steep for 10-15 minutes and pour into a cup. Sweeten with a little honey and enjoy.

Quick tip — If you are forever tossing your small tools on the ground as you work and then having a difficult time finding them I have a great tip for you.

Actually, I can’t take credit for this one, it was passed along to me by one of my Master Gardener friends. Get a bright fluorescent color of duct tape and wrap it around the handle. Then you can easily find your tools when you are picking up.

I will answer your questions in this column and also share fun tips and gardening stories. Let me hear from you at


Karen O’Neal writes a monthly gardening column for The Democrat. She is an Adams County Master Gardener.