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Have you wondered exactly what to do with Amaryllis bulbs after they are done blooming? Confused about how to properly care for amaryllis? Well keep reading because I have grown amaryllis plants to mammoth proportions in the past, and they have produced clusters of bulbs and several flowering stalks all in one pot!
I will teach you everything I know so that you can easily do this too if you follow my instructions!
There are many things that are crucial to have your amaryllis bloom and thrive for years to come:
- Proper light
- Correct dormant period
- Attention to the foliage
- Fertilization to help keep the bulbs strong for the future
- Planting Your Amaryllis
- What to Do With Amaryllis After Flowering
- Amaryllis Bulbs In Winter: Information About Amaryllis Bulb Storage
- Storing Amaryllis Bulbs in Winter
- Amaryllis Bulb Storage
- How to Store Amaryllis Bulbs
Planting Your Amaryllis
Quick side note…Amaryllis is just the common name for this plant. Not to be confused with the “belladonna” lily which is Amaryllis belladonna. What most people know as Amaryllis are actually in the Hippeastrum genus. Common names can be so confusing!
I will refer to these plants as Amaryllis though because that’s what everyone calls them.
When you first get your amaryllis bulb, it is important that you plant the bulb at the correct depth. More on this topic shortly.
Check out this amaryllis below that I grew years ago. Look at all the blooms! It grew into a cluster of bulbs, and each bulb produced multiple flower stalks, each with 4-6 flowers.
I had this plant for over a decade before I bought my own home and left my parents’ house and sadly didn’t take it with me…what a mistake that was!
Purchasing an Amaryllis Bulb
When you purchase your big, juicy amaryllis bulb, make sure that you purchase the biggest bulb that you can afford.
If you see skimpy little tiny bulbs, they honestly are not worth even the few dollars that you spend on them, unless you want to force them to bloom and throw away right after.
For best results, avoid purchasing the pre-boxed kits where you can’t see the bulb.
I like to either go to a garden center and hand select big, loose bulbs, or you can purchase some online. Regardless, only get the biggest one that you can afford. I promise you won’t regret it.
These plants can become glorious specimens, as you can see from my photo above of the ‘Orange King’ amaryllis that I cared for over a dozen years or so.
Planting Your Amaryllis Bulb
Select a Pot
Next, select an appropriate pot size for your amaryllis. You don’t want to pick too small of a pot, but you also don’t want a gigantic pot.
Place the bulb in the middle of the pot that you think you’ll use, and you’ll want about 2-3 inches, roughly, from the edge of the bulb to the perimeter of the pot.
I prefer either terra cotta pots or ceramic pots. They give you extra weight because these plants can become too top heavy if you plant them in lightweight pots. My preferred pot of choice is terra cotta.
Planting the Bulb
Regardless what pot you choose, it MUST have a drainage hole. Don’t even think of planting in a pot with no drainage hole.
I like to place a broken pot shard over the drainage hole, and use a general all-purpose potting soil (I really love Espoma’s potting soil) to which I mix a good bulb food. I have gotten fantastic results with using Bulb-Tone.
Stick with this fertilizer and you will not be disappointed. You should not use any fertilizers that are high in Nitrogen for bulbs.
A very important step in planting the bulb is to make sure you don’t bury the whole bulb under the soil. Keep the top 1/3 to 1/2 (at the most) above the surface of the soil. Lastly, be sure to gently firm the soil down with your hands.
Place Your Amaryllis in its Growing Location
Once you have planted it, give it a light watering and place it in a bright location. These plants prefer a lot of direct sun, and you have read many sites that say to place in bright indirect light.
This is not the case and I have achieved my results in part because I kept my plant in a very sunny Southern exposure window.
These are sun loving plants! So place your plant in the sunniest window that you have. More on this topic later.
Caring for Amaryllis during Flowering
Now it’s a waiting game! Be careful not to overwater your amaryllis at this stage because it won’t be able to use much water yet. Wait until the top couple inches of potting soil are dry before watering again.
Within a few days to a couple weeks or so, you should be able to see the flower stalk(s) emerging from the bulb. Sometimes when you purchase your bulb, the flower stalk has already started in growth.
Turn Your Pot
As your amaryllis flower stalk(s) start to grow, you’ll need to rotate your pot so that the stalk(s) grow straight. They will continually lean toward the light, so rotate them every few days, or as needed.
For a healthy, well-grown plant, each bulb will produce at least one flower stalk, and each stalk should have at least 4 flower buds.
In my plant that I described earlier, I had several flower stalks in one pot and each stalk had 4-6 flowers!
This is a photo of the same plant where you can see the stalk has 6 flowers.
What to Do With Amaryllis After Flowering
This is the trick, right? What exactly should you do with your amaryllis after it is done blooming?
Cut the Flower Stalks Off
After the plant has bloomed its heart out for you, carefully cut the flower stalks off as close to the bulb as you can. Be careful not to cut into any leaves.
This is the crucial time for your amaryllis where you will be nurturing it until it reblooms again for you the following year. And if you follow my advice, it will be very easy to keep your amaryllis blooming every year for years to come!
I have repeated this process for many, many years and it works!
Allow the Leaves to Grow and Provide Routine Care
This will be the growing phase for your plant. Sometimes amaryllis will grow leaves at the same time as the flower stalks, and sometimes they will appear a bit later. After all, plants are all individuals like people!
Keep your amaryllis in the SUNNIEST window that you have. The plant I documented in this post was kept in a large, Southern exposure window that was very sunny.
If you keep your amaryllis is lower light, you can tell because the leaves will become weak and floppy. Amaryllis need to be in direct sun for best results.
Allow the surface of the soil to dry out, maybe an inch or so. Then water thoroughly. Do not let your plant sit in water at any time or it will rot.
You want to avoid fertilizers that are high in nitrogen. Bulbs like to have have fertilizers that lean more heavily on the Phosphorus and Potassium.
Stick with the fertilizers I described earlier, and I will summarize those again at the end of the post.
As I mentioned, keep your growing amaryllis in the sunniest window you have. If you don’t, you will risk not getting any flowers, or a poor show at best.
When Warm Weather Arrives Outside
If you live in a cold climate like me, when the weather is warm enough to place houseplants outside, the best thing you can do is to place this plant outside in full sun.
Don’t put it directly into full sun immediately though! When transitioning a plant from indoors to outdoors, you need your plant to go through a hardening off period. This is CRITICAL otherwise you will scorch the leaves very quickly.
Although your plant may have been growing in full sun indoors, you still need to harden off your plant when you move it outdoors.
When the weather is warm enough, start out by placing the amaryllis in full shade for a few days. It will get accustomed to the higher light outdoors.
Then move it to an area where it maybe gets an hour or two of morning sun. Do this for a few days. And gradually increase it from there.
You can’t go too slow with this process, but if you go too fast you will burn the leaves!
Preparing Your Amaryllis to Rebloom
Stop All Watering
This is the secret sauce right here! Leave your amaryllis outside until about the end of September or beginning of October.
At that point, place it in a sheltered spot outside where it would get NO rain and you want to completely cut off all water.
If it is too cold outside, depending on where you live, bring the plant back indoors. As long as the minimum temperature outside is around 55F or so, you should be just fine.
Again, cut off ALL water. The foliage will start to yellow and wilt. When all the foliage is yellowed or dried up, take a sharp, sterilized knife or scissors and cut all the leaves off down to the neck of the bulb.
Let all of the foliage ripen and don’t cut any foliage off until this is done!
Then place the pot in a cool, dark area for a full 4-6 weeks. A cool, dark basement works well. You’ll want your bulb to rest for at least a month.
If you want to delay forcing the amaryllis to bloom a little later, you can keep it a couple more weeks.
One thing to note is that most amaryllis that are on the market need this dormancy period. This is one variety that is evergreen and that you should NOT give it a dormancy period. The variety is Hippeastrum papilio (or the butterfly amaryllis).
Return Your Amaryllis to Your Window
After the 4-6 week rest period for your amaryllis, it is time to return your amaryllis to your sunny window.
At this time, it is also important to replenish the nutrients in the soil. I like to add a special bulb fertilizer blend to the soil, and also use liquid fertilizer throughout the whole growing season.
I have achieved wonderful results with using Bulb-Tone for my amaryllis throughout the years. Again, for bulbs, you don’t want to use any fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content. Bulb-Tone has been absolutely fantastic.
Simply use the recommended amount per the label, and mix it into the top part of the soil, and water it in.
Give your plant a nice watering at this time, but go easy on the watering until the growth really starts to take off. After the plant is done flowering, I like to fertilize periodically with a fish emulsion fertilizer.
Using the Bulb-Tone and fish emulsion fertilizers (both organic and not synthetic), it really results in beautifully healthy plants that flower abundantly!
So this concludes the blog post on how to care for amaryllis and how to get amaryllis to bloom for you year after year. With a little effort, you will end up with a beautiful specimen plant!
Amaryllis Bulbs In Winter: Information About Amaryllis Bulb Storage
Amaryllis flowers are very popular early-blooming bulbs that make for big, dramatic splashes of color in the dead of winter. Once those impressive blossoms have faded, however, it’s not over. Storing amaryllis bulbs over the winter is an easy and effective way to get recurring blooms for years to come. Keep reading to learn more about amaryllis bulb storage and how to overwinter an amaryllis bulb.
Storing Amaryllis Bulbs in Winter
Once the flowers of your amaryllis have faded, cut back the flower stalks to ½ an inch (1.25 cm.) above the bulb. Don’t cut the leaves yet! Your bulb needs the leaves in place to gather energy to make it through the winter and grow again in the spring.
If you move it to a sunny spot, it can gather even more energy. If it’s in a pot with drainage holes and your nights are warmer than 50 F. (10 C.), you can move it outside. If your pot does not have drainage holes, don’t put it outside – the rain will build up and rot your bulb.
You can transplant it outside into your garden for the duration of the summer, though. Make sure to bring it inside again if there’s any danger of frost.
Amaryllis Bulb Storage
When the foliage starts to die back naturally, cut it back to 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm.) above the bulb. Dig your bulb up and store it in a cool, dry, dark place (like a basement) for anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks. Amaryllis bulbs in winter go dormant, so it won’t need any water or attention.
When you want to plant your bulb, place it in a pot not much bigger than the bulb, with its shoulders above the soil. Give it one good drink of water and place it in a warm, sunny window. Before long it should start growing.
How to Store Amaryllis Bulbs
Striking amaryllis is often forced into bloom near Christmas to add winter color to the holidays. Large red, white or orange flowers blossom in clusters from the top of a 2-foot tall flower stalk. After blooming, the amaryllis foliage continues to remain green, so it can collect and store nutrients for the next blooming period. Once the foliage dies back, amaryllis requires a period of dormancy in order to bloom again. Amaryllis planted in the ground experiences this naturally when winter comes, but potted amaryllis must be stored properly to force a dormancy period.
Plan to induce dormancy and store your bulb 16 to 18 weeks before you desire blooming. Store bulbs in late August or early September for Christmas blooms.
Move the pot into a cool, dimly lit area such as a basement or garage. Allow the leaves to brown and die back naturally.
Cut off the leaves 1 inch above the soil surface once they turn brown and die. Use sharp scissors or garden shears to avoid pulling on the leaves and damaging the bulb.
Lay down a sheet of newspaper, and turn the soil out of the pot onto it. Brush all the excess soil from the amaryllis bulb.
Fill a perforated plastic bag with dry vermiculite or peat moss. Place the bulb inside, and store it in a dark 50-degree Fahrenheit location for 8 to 10 weeks.
Replant the bulb in fresh potting soil inside a pot 2 inches larger than the diameter of the bulb. Water regularly and place in a bright, warm location to induce growth and the blooming period.
Amaryllis is a popular holiday gift plant but may have the lucky recipient wondering about its proper care.
Amaryllis is a tender bulb that won’t survive outdoors even in the mildest of Indiana winters. But it can be grown indoors to provide a dramatic show of color during dreary winter months.
The showy flowers range from crimson, scarlet, rose, lavender, white or bi-colored combinations. Although each plant may produce only one cluster of 2-4 blooms, individual blossoms can reach up to 8 inches in diameter at their peak. The flowers are borne on a tall, stout stem about 2 feet tall.
Amaryllis is commonly sold as a potted plant in full bloom or as a bulb kit for growing your own. For plants already in bloom, the flowers will last longer if you keep the plant in a cool location around 65 degrees F. Warmer conditions may cause the flower stalks to become weak and require staking to support the weight of the blossoms.
If you received an amaryllis bulb kit, you just might have blooms in time for Valentine’s Day! The bulbs will have been rested and pre-chilled by the greenhouse grower so that they will be ready to grow and bloom at home. Bulbs should be potted in containers that are only a little larger in diameter than the bulbs themselves. Be sure containers provide drainage so excess water can escape. Pour a layer of good-quality potting soil mix into the bottom of the container and place the bulb so that the pointed end is facing up. Water thoroughly to establish good bulb-to-soil contact. Then place in a sunny windowsill in a cool location, preferably 55-65 degrees F. The plants should bloom in 6-8 weeks.
After the flowers fade you can keep amaryllis as a houseplant to re-bloom next year. Cut the faded flower stalk off at its base, place near a sunny window, and water and fertilize as you would other houseplants. After all danger of frost is past in the spring, you can plunge the pot into the soil outdoors in an east- or west-facing location.
Late in summer as the leaves begin to yellow, gradually cut back on watering until the leaves fade completely and the soil is dry. At this time, the bulb should be dormant. Dig the pot out of the ground and bring it back indoors. Keep the bulb in its pot and store in a cool, dark location about 40-55 degrees F. Amaryllis do not require as much of a chilling period as do many other flowering bulbs, but they do require a period of cool, dry dormancy. After about two months of rest, water the soil and set the pot in a sunny window and resume normal care.