What To Do With My Amaryllis?

What To Do With My Amaryllis?

Did you buy or receive an amaryllis bulb over the holidays? If so, you probably enjoyed the lovely, large flowers at the end of the tall bloom stalk. Now you’re wondering how to take care of the plant into the summer, and if you can keep it and bring it into flower again next winter. First of all, know that these are some of the easiest holiday plants to save from year to year and have them bloom again. Secondly, we’re here to help with that process.

One of the easiest winter-flowering plants to grow is the amaryllis. If it’s already in a pot when you buy or receive it as a gift, just water it when the soil is dry and it will soon produce the tall stalk that’s crowned with a huge, colorful flower.

Once your flower has faded here’s what you need to do:

  • Cut the flower stalk down to about two inches above the bulb once the bloom has faded. Keep watering the soil when it’s dry, but don’t keep it constantly wet. When kept too moist the bulb and roots can rot, so better to have the potting mix on the dry side in between waterings.
  • The bulb should start to produce leaves after the flower finishes. Occasionally a bulb will produce a second flower stalk as well as foliage. If you’re lucky enough to have this happen, enjoy that repeat bloom and then cut that stalk down once it fades.
  • As the leaves grow from the bulb, let them develop and become long. They are often floppy, but don’t worry about that.
  • If your bulb came in a plastic pot, you should either repot it into a clay container right away or do so in May before you put the plant outside. A clay pot is best because it is heavy enough to hold the large, strappy, green leaves when the plant is put outside for the summer. It’s fine to use a pot that is wider than it is tall.
When you transplant the bulb into a clay pot, make sure that a third to a half of the bulb is showing above the soil line. This ensures that the bulb won’t be surrounded by soil that is too moist. If you bury the bulb completely it is likely to rot.
  • Before placing the bulb in the new, clay pot, mix some organic fertilizer into the potting soil. Flower-tone or Plant-tone are fine for this purpose, or use the Coast of Maine Stonington Blend fertilizer. A tablespoon or two per pot will be fine.
  • Be sure a third to a half of the bulb is showing above the soil line. This helps prevent rotting. When watering these bulbs, moisten the soil well but then wait until it starts to look and feel dry before watering again.
It was repotting day for the amaryllis in the garage. You can repot these bulbs right after they finish flowering, or in the fall after they’ve gone dormant.
  • The amaryllis we grow indoors and enjoy indoors at this time of year is in the genus Hippeastrum. These plants are native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of South America and the Caribbean. This tells us that they cannot live where temperatures fall below freezing in the winter, which is why we put our plants outside in the summer, and bring the pots of amaryllis bulbs indoors in the fall.
  • Whether you’ve repotted your bulbs right away after blooming, or wait and do it when you put the plants outside, you should keep the plant in a sunny window for the rest of the winter and into the spring. It will grow long, green leaves. Do not worry if they flop or sprawl. Water the bulb when the soil looks dry, and start to fertilize either with a synthetic or organic fertilizer.
  • When the night time temperatures are above 50° in May or early June, you can move your pots of amaryllis foliage outside. If you have not yet put the bulb in a clay pot, now is the time to do so. Place some time-release fertilizer on the top of the soil so that the plants are fed throughout the summer. This is important because those green leaves are creating energy for the bulbs all summer long, and that energy will be what fuels the production of flowers in the coming winter.
In late May, once the night time temperatures are reliably above 50°, you should put your pots of amaryllis outside. Here, the plants get morning sun and afternoon shade. As you can see, sometimes a bulb will put up an unexpected flower in the summertime.
  • Water your amaryllis plants when the soil looks dry. Do not keep the soil constantly wet as this will rot the roots and bulbs.
  • As the bulbs age they will produce new bulblets to the sides of the mother plant. You can either leave these next to the first bulb, and transplant into a pot that is wider, or you can separate these and pot each bulb up individually. A bulblet commonly takes two or three years of growth before it is big enough to flower.
  • In September, move your pots of amaryllis into a cool place where they can rest for six weeks. An unheated garage is perfect. Do not water. The foliage may die back. After that resting period you can bring the pot back into the house and begin watering again.
Here are pots of amaryllis bulbs on a rack in the center of an unheated garage. They are resting in October and November, and can be brought into the house anytime from late November on. (Note: pots on the bottom and top shelf of this rack are tender shrubs that are being saved from growing season to growing season.)

Given that the treatment outlined above, new soil and repotting, fertilization and outdoor growth during the summer, you’ll be enjoying your amaryllis flowers every winter for years to come.

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