Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
If you were lucky enough to receive an amaryllis bulb for Christmas, you might be wondering what in the world to do with it now. If not pre-potted, they may be sold as single bulbs, or as a kit where you pot the bulb yourself with provided materials. Growing amaryllis is actually very easy, and once you realize this you probably won't be able to stop at just one.
My first recommendation is if you got one of these kits, throw out the mix they provide. In my experience, the mix is usually mostly peat moss, which retains moisture, but if it dries out it can be difficult to re-wet. I've had good luck with "flowering houseplant" potting mixes available commercially. Make sure the mix you choose drains well. I once repotted my collection in a soil mix that I hadn't tried before, and lost several to rot since the mix didn't drain well.
Second, make sure that the pot you use has drainage holes. This sounds obvious, but I continue to see that "ready-to-grow" amaryllis kits often include a pot with no drainage holes. Setting an amaryllis in a pot without drainage is a death sentence. The pot should be no more than two inches bigger than the diameter of the bulb.
When potting the bulb, the top half to third of the bulb should be visible. Water the mix thoroughly, and place in a 70 to 75 degree room until growth appears from the top of the bulb. At this point, the developing flower stalk should be in a cool, but bright 65 degree room to prolong flowering, and you may begin to fertilize when watering. Rotate the pot periodically if the flower stalk begins to bend towards the light. If the bulb is big enough, it may produce a second flower stalk.
When the flowers fade, remove the stalk and continue to fertilize the leaves. If your bulb never flowers, but there are leaves, all is not lost. Continue to care for the plant, and refer to Extension's website http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/hortihints/0110c.html for more information on re-blooming your amaryllis next year.