In good time for last Christmas, I ordered myself a single Hippeastrum bulb.
This is becoming a sort of personal tradition: first, because I love amaryllis and second, because I've never had any success bringing them back into bloom for a second year. Leaves, yes, old leaves that never really die, but no flowers. There is a sort of frustration to it because I will also never admit that I'm using the plant strictly as an annual. I must try to carry each bulb through to a second flowering; I can't leave well enough alone. I am sure that many of my difficulties stem from very warm house temperatures and low indoor humidity. However, I can't change those factors very well.
So first there is the glorious anticipation, culminating at last (hopefully just at or before Christmas) when the enormous, brilliant flowers burst fully open on their long stems. Then there are weary months of wondering when I will stop attempting to salvage another bulb for another season.
This time I selected the variety "Naranja" - a very apt name as the flowers are even more orange than their namesake fruit. The bulb came promptly and was duly planted in a smallish pot as per all advice. But this time, with the mild winter temperatures here, I determined to try leaving the pot out of doors to enjoy some real, fresh air.
With results according.
The plant grew much more slowly; in fact, it has only flowered in the last week, over a month later than usually expected. But the stems and leaves (not much from these yet) are also a good deal shorter and therefore sturdier. As for the blooms, they are spectacular...
I have little doubt that the plant has been much more comfortable outside than it would have been in, though I did miss the very direct Christmas anticipation of growing it indoors.
The rest of the story involves the previous year's amaryllis. I kept it in its pot and continued, as described above, caring for it until its languid and floppy leaves made me decide it had better not stay around the living room at any rate. Then I transfered it out to the patio and continued watering and occasionally feeding it. Last autumn I decided to try another tack, so I went ahead and planted the bulb, still with lank green foliage, in the garden. The leaves eventually died off, but a couple of slender leaves came sprouting up from what must be a bulblet. Well and good.
And then, three days ago, I found a short spike of green leaf coming up from the original bulb. Whether or not it will bloom this year, it has at least completed a full cycle of leaf to leaf, the thing I could never coddle my amaryllis bulbs to do in the past. I am told amaryllis can thrive - perhaps even naturalise - in the garden here, and I am hoping it is beginning to happen.
I know where "Naranja" is going once its luscious blooms begin to fade! (But wait, it has a second bloom stalk!)