The amaryllis is usually thought of as a one-off winter bulb that makes for a great holiday accent. But with very little care on your part, you can have the grand flower appear year after year.
The bulb, of the genus Hippeastrum, is native to South America and South Africa and grows either in savannas or high plateau regions. In keeping one alive for more than one bloom cycle, the goal is to mimic its natural habitat as closely as possible.
While your amaryllis is flowering, try to keep it cool, or place it near a cold windowpane that doesn't get much sun. In its current state, with little foliage, the plant doesn't need more than diffuse lighting. And it should stay moist, though not soaking wet.
Slideshow: 5 (Nearly) Kill-Proof House Plants
Once it has finished blooming, cut back the flowering stalk and place the pot in a sunny window. Fertilize and watch for the shoots of leaves to grow tall. When danger of frost has passed, the amaryllis can be moved to a sunlit spot outdoors.
Water and fertilize weekly all summer long, but stop in the fall, when the leaves will turn brown and die.
Once the plant has entered dormancy, store it in a cool, dry, dark spot for about six to eight weeks. During this time, the bulb will replenish itself for another bloom period.
After dormancy, take the bulb out of storage and replant in a bigger pot using a mix of equal parts soil, peat moss, and perlite. Keep the pot in a sunny location within a room that stays on the cooler side, 50 or 65 degrees. Water only when the soil feels dry. In about six weeks, you'll see another bloom and will have taken your amaryllis through a complete cycle.
For more on gardening, consider:
How To: Care for Garden Tools
Radio: Gardening Online
The Winter Garden: Hedge Your Bets