Amaryllis thrives in spring garden

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008

Staff report
Jean and Monroe Poplin of Gold Hill love amaryllis.
“We are not sure why you cannot buy these bulbs for spring planting,” Jean writes. “We have great success with ours after starting with a few bulbs back in 1997 and have developed a memorial garden in memory of my son, Matthew Speight, who died on June 20, 1997, at the age of 23.”
At first the Poplins took the bulbs out of the ground after blooming and stored them in the basement during winter. They planted after the last frost. But now, with so many bulbs in their garden, they leave them in year-round.
“Cover with heavy pine needles and remove after last frost. The pine needles are easy to remove with a pitch fork without hurting the plants. Pine bark is much harder to remove and not recommended.”
Jean says the loose bulbs can be stored for at least two months and will then rebloom when brought inside. She suggest placing them in a refrigerator at 40 degrees for the same period, but warns not to store them with apples, which will sterilize the bulbs.
The bulbs multiply and blooms will increase in number and size as they grow. She says growers can expect two to six flowers per stalk eventually.
While often given as Christmas gifts to be forced inside, amaryllis, the Poplins say, should be enjoyed in a spring yard.
Amaryllis bulbs are generally available to order from October through March. Those bulbs have been kept in a cool, dark place to allow blooms indoors over the holidays.
The Poplins have sold some of their bulbs, contributing the proceeds to Relay for Life for Matt Speight Make a Difference Team.
They have also donated potted amaryllis to a special event in China Grove raising funds for a cancer victim.
The amaryllis you get for Christmas can bloom again in spring if kept in a cool, dark place for the winter months. The Poplins say the bulbs will survive in the garden with very little tender, loving care.