No flower says the holidays like amaryllis. This bulb hails from South African and South America. It's a spring bloomer in its native range, but through hybridization and marketing mostly by the Dutch, amaryllis has been made into a favorite flower for Christmas time.
While the red or white amaryllis is traditional, there have been many variations on the theme through breeding. The colors on the trumpet-shaped flowers now range from Easter lily white to the deepest red. Many have colorful edges on the petals. Some varieties don't look like amaryllis at all, but have more thin, spider-like flowers. There are even dwarf selections that are good in small pots.
Once you bring your amaryllis home, pot it up in a container a little bigger than the bulb and filled with moisten potting soil. Amaryllis like tight spaces. Keep it in a warm, brightly lit room and in three to four weeks, it should be blooming – often with multiple flower stalks following. You may have to place a stake or support in the pot to keep the flowers upright.
After flowering, cut back the flower stalk but leave the leaves to grow and rejuvenate the bulb. Place it outdoors in a part shade location all summer and water and fertilize it regularly. The bulb may develop little side bulbs. Split those off the mother plant and plant them in separate pots. Be patient. They may take three years or so for them to flower.
In fall, cut back the leaves, let the soil dry out and place the bulb in a dark, cool room for a few months. Then bring it out to grow again.