This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
An inquirer asks about the treatment of Amaryllis speciosa. This Amaryllis, if rightly named (and so many are not), is a fall or winter-blooming variety - those which bloom in summer, fall, and frequently towards Christmas time. Many of these remain apparently strong and healthy for years without blooming. We knew a lady, who, after having an A. speciosa under cultivation for several years without bloom, tried with success the following treatment:
In the spring, about the time house plants are removed to the garden, the A. speciosa was taken from the pot, all earth shaken from the roots, then again potted in very rich sandy earth. All offsets were removed. It was watered freely once, then at long intervals for two or three weeks, when the pot was laid on the side, under the partial shade of an arbor. Here it remained dry until about the middle of September, when it was set upright and watered. Very soon after it was placed in a sunny window to bloom, which it did in such fine fashion as to delight its owner. She continued this treatment for other seasons with unfailing success.
The A. speciosa belongs to what may be called the evergreen varieties; for if cultivation is continued throughout the year, they will start new growth about four times a year, and it is possible they might bloom as often if the ground was made rich enough by additional nourishment and sufficient heat was kept up; with a sunny exposure. They will, however, bear much drying off, as much as eight months, with the bulb part of the time out of the earth. They are, with ordinary culture, slow to bloom, and to have the earth full of roots seems to be the easiest mode of forcing them to bloom. They are strong, vigorous growers, but are often attacked by a minute insect, which harbors on the under-side of the leaf and produces a red tinge, which comes in spots, but gradually extends over the leaf, till it decays. This little pest (not discernible without a microscope) can be exterminated by washing the leaves once a week with a sponge.
The A. Tettuii, which is of the richest dark tints of scarlet, is another handsome fall-blooming kind, and is more worthy of culture than any I have seen. It is said to have been taken to Germany, from Mexico, by the Maximilian, whose life there as Emperor was almost as brief as the bloom of this royal plant.
Another variety, having an immense bulb and a dark flower of like proportions, is a curiosity, and in some positions would have a stately effect, but is hardly fit for house culture.
The Amaryllis Atamasco, or Fairy Lily, can be treated exactly as a gladiolus is, if desired, and makes a lovely border plant, as it throws up flowers at intervals all summer. They are also very pretty placed in an eight-inch pot (eight or ten of them) and watered freely. I have known one pot of these to produce fifty flowers during the summer. The Zephyranthus Candida is almost as pretty, treated in the same way. This kind cannot be dried off without danger of losing the bulbs. A lovely rose-colored variety of the Zephyranthus (or Fairy Lily) which fades slightly after opening the flower, I am not now sure of as to name, since I have learned that the Atamosco is white, or nearly so. It may be Z. rosea. The Z. Candida can be distinguished by its round fleshy leaves, which stand upright. There are also two yellow or orange varieties. I have seen but one, however.
The Atamsco is a native of the Southern portion of the United States. The Z. Candida grows by the rivers of South America.
I may add without detriment to the fall-blooming Amaryllis, that those which bloom in or near the Spring have a greater variety of color, and, to my mind, are the most beautiful. Most of these can be cultivated in the garden during summer, re-potted and rested during the fall and half of December, and then come into bloom from January on to April.