AKRON, Colo. — If you happen to be gifted a beautiful amaryllis, poinsettia or paperwhites, do you know how to care for them? Where to properly place them in your home? Here is some helpful advice for you.
Amaryllis are gaining in popularity even over poinsettias. When your amaryllis arrives in bloom place the pot in a room with a temperature around 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If someone happens to give you an amaryllis bulb to start, then that bulb will need warmer temperatures to get started. This means 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit until you see a flower stalk. As for sunlight, it will need four hours of sun each day. This could mean placing it in a window with a southern exposure or an eastern or western exposure.
With your potted amaryllis in full bloom, water well once a week. If the soil is dry to the touch, water again. Make sure the soil is well-draining. While your amaryllis is in full bloom it only needs fertilization every two weeks or with a slow-release fertilizer once a month. After the flowers fade, cut the flower stalks at the base of the plant. Remove the plant from full sun but do not start on a fertilizer regime until after your bulb has a rest period. Stop watering it and fertilizing it for 8-10 weeks. This means the old leaves will yellow and wither.
After your bulb will has an 8-to-ten-week rest period without water and fertilization and you start to see new growth place it back in full sun and begin watering and fertilizing it again. Remember the temperature now needs to be slightly warmer from 65 to 70. Next season, the flowering will become more prolific.
Poinsettias make for great gifts and come in so many different variations of pink, red and white even yellow. Poinsettia flowers are made up of bracts, which look like petals. The bract is a specialized leaf which in this case turns from green to red pigmentation based on a dark period of 16 hours of uninterrupted darkness and then eight hours of daylight. The tiny yellow cyathia in the center are the true flowers. The colorful bracts attract insects to the flowers and will drop after pollination.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico where they grow wild. In our homes, they need four to six hours of bright light. They can be placed near a south, east or west window. Be sure to avoid drafts because this plant likes neither cold air nor excessive heat. A temperature fluctuation from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal environment. Keep the soil moist but well-drained but if you drench your soil the roots will rot.
When the poinsettia is in flower, it does not need fertilization. Start fertilizing when you see new stems or leaves. When you apply fertilizer, a general all-purpose fertilizer works well. Use half strength and fertilize every three to four weeks. Follow the directions on the all-purpose fertilizer you use for half-strength.
Once the bracts are gone, here is a timetable according to Minnesota University Extension to follow for reblooming of your poinsettia.
- First, New Year’s Day fertilize if you see new growth.
- Second, Valentine’s Day cut back the stems to about five inches in height so the plant can regrow in a more compact form and check for insects while you are doing this.
- Third, St. Patrick’s Day keep the plant in a sunny window. Remove any dead and add soil to the pot if needed.
- Fourth, Memorial Day again trim off two to three inches on the stems to promote side branching. And transplant if needed.
- Fifth, Father’s Day place the plant outside in indirect light.
- Sixth, Labor Day bring the plant back inside and place it in a window with bright light for at least six hours. And if you see new growth, dilute the fertilizer to one-quarter of the recommended strength.
- Seven, Fall Equinox around September 21 start a period of 16 hours of darkness and eight hours of bright light while keeping it at a temperature of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. And keep the fertilization at one-quarter of the recommended strength.
- Eight, Thanksgiving remove the poinsettia from the 16 hours of darkness and bring it out in a sunny window for at least six hours while reducing the water and fertilization.
- Nine, Christmas hopefully you are enjoying your reblooming poinsettia. Or you have abandoned the process way back on St. Patrick’s Day and gone out to purchase a new poinsettia.
Paperwhite bulbs are a whole lot simpler to grow. If someone gives you a bulb in soil or water and it is not in bloom, then all you need to do is water properly. If the bulb is in soil, wait until the top inch of soil is dry then water. If the bulbs are in pebbles or marbles, keep the water line just under the bulb. Do not keep any of the bulb in water or it will rot. Paperwhites need a temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer indirect light.
If someone gives you bulbs of paperwhites to plant, either soil or pebbles, gravel or marbles are fine for placing the bulbs in a container. The bulb can sit in soil up to their neck. Keep them in a cool and in a darker room for about two weeks prior to them rooting. Be sure to check the moisture every other day. Once they are rooted then bring them into the 65-degree Fahrenheit temperature and indirect light. It usually takes about four to six weeks for them to bloom. If you want them to bloom for Thanksgiving, then plant them around the end of October. But if you want them for Christmas plant them around the end of November or beginning of December. Unfortunately, after they have bloomed, they are a disposable bulb because you have forced them into bloom out of their season.
–Linda Langelo, Colorado State University