Q. I always look forward to giving and receiving plants of the holiday season. One plant I would like to keep year-round is the amaryllis. Please explain how to do this.
A. Many plants can have an extended life well beyond the holidays if they are given the appropriate care. Here are some helpful tips to keep your plant blooming.
Plant your amaryllis bulb in a soilless mix in a pot that is as wide as it is tall, with one-third of the bulb above soil level. Water thoroughly. Place the pot in bright, but indirect, light. Water only when the soil dries out. Rotate the pot and stake extra-tall varieties to prevent lopsided growth. After the plant flowers, remove faded blooms, but do not cut off the flower stalk until it has yellowed and withered. Within a few weeks, new foliage will begin to grow. Fertilize the plant with dilute half-strength 10-15-10 fertilizer once a month. In mid-May, the bulb with foliage may be taken outside to summer in a sheltered spot in the garden. In the fall, bring the bulb indoors, cut off yellow leaves, remove from the pot and lay the bulb on its side in a dark, cool room for several months. When the bulb shows new growth, repot in fresh soilless mix, resume watering and return the pot to bright indirect light.