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Thursday
Apr202017

Growing flowers in water: Amaryllis 'Double King' bulb lives to bloom again 

Left, my pet 'Double King' amaryllis bulb, Leafy, in Feb. 2015 and, right, earlier this month, April 2017. Note the difference in roots. Here's a post that almost didn't happen. Leafy, my pet 'Double King' amaryllis bulb sent up a flower stalk earlier this month, surprising me for what will be a third year of flowering, if all goes well.

Despite my happiness, I did not get around to taking that early picture.

In my mind, there'd be an ideal side-by-side comparison shot with Leafy in the same window as a February 2015 shot.

Well, your dream photo can't come true when you ask someone else to grab your camera and take a picture while you get ready to run out the door, and that someone decides to accommodate your request and take the photo you should have taken yourself a week earlier, but thinks the better shot will come by moving Leafy onto the table with poor light and a lot of visual clutter in the background (including an accent wall that makes Leafy appear reddish instead of purplish), and you don't realize any of this until 10 days later when Leafy's flower stalk is now more than a foot tall, and the moment for that perfect side-by-side comparison is long gone, but you can't be mad at that person because you love that person and that person did something for you in a rush that you really should have made time to do yourself. (Rant over)

Leafy, a 'Double King' amaryllis bulb named for the long, narrow leaves it grows over the summer, first came to me in the fall of 2014. This robust bulb, one of three in my water-growing experiments, has been kept alive since then in plain water, with weekly water changes and a good amount of sun through sliding glass doors. After it first bloomed in my care, I decided on a whim to keep the bulb's roots in water all year. (Regrettably, I put the other two bulbs in the basement to dry, and I managed to let them dry up and die.)

Leafy in February 2015 with two healthy flower stalks. In 2015, the Double King amaryllis that would be named Leafy produced two thick, gorgeous, purple-tinged  flower shoots. This year (and last year) there's only one, and it's much thinner than those from my first year. The flower shoot also appeared later this year, in April as compared to mid-February in 2015 and early March last year.

Last summer, I decided to let Leafy's leaves stay on until they died off, which didn't happen until late fall. I wish I had kept better records, but I think snipped away the leaves at the end of summer/early fall in 2015. Leaving the leaves on to collect sun power longer seemed to help; the bulb feels larger and heavier this year.

The point of all this: You can keep amaryllis bulbs as water-grown houseplants, and they can bloom several seasons.   

I'm speculating that the flower stalks have been slimmer than the first year because the plant is not well nourished. The bulb grower undoubtedly produced the bulb under ideal conditions -- growing it in soil from which it would have taken up a variety of nutrients, and, likely, it was fed with some sort of fertilizer as well.

My next step is to research what sort of nutrients can be delivered to Leafy's roots in water -- perhaps a hydroponic solution of some sort. Since I think of this bulb as a silent pet, I have to be sure anything I'd put in the water won't cause harm. More later.  

 

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