Force amaryllis to bloom

How to force an Amaryllis to bloom

Continue watering through blooming and start the process again after.
A few tips:
After the flower stalk starts to grow, turn the plant every few days so that the sun hits the opposite side. This will keep the stalk growing straight.
You can put your amaryllis outside in spring and bring it back in before the first frost. It prefers partial shade.
Do not trim the leaves back in spring and summer. They need the leaves to grow so the amaryllis bulb can store energy for the dormant phase.
Some people like to remove their amaryllis from the pot and store it bare root during it’s dormant phase. They claim it produces better blooms when forcing an amaryllis to bloom for Christmas, but it made no difference when I tried it.
The dormant phase is the main step in forcing your amaryllis bulb to rebloom. Don’t feel like you’re neglecting it, it need this rest time.
So now you’re wondering “Well, Lisa if I was supposed to start this in August why didn’t you tell me then?” Well, I needed to get a picture of one of my amaryllis’s in it’s ‘going dormant’ stage and that just happened. Totally forgot to take one last year…sorry about that!
However, if you happen to have kept an amaryllis bulb from last year it probably is pretty close to this stage anyway, so just quit watering it until you see that flower spike start to shoot up and you’ll be fine! It might rebloom a little late for Christmas, but amaryllis don’t seem to work on exact time tables….so you never know.
Amaryllis come in many colors. Around Christmas most stores sell only white and red (that’s all I’ve ever found). You can order other colors online. When choosing a pot to plant your amaryllis bulb in, choose a pot less then twice the diameter of the bulb. Allow 1/3 of the bulb to be above the soil.
Enjoy your holiday blooms!
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Forcing Amaryllis in the Home

Amaryllis are popular flowering bulbs which are grown for their large, spectacular blooms during the winter months. Bulbs are available pre- planted in pots or unpotted.

When planting an amaryllis bulb, select a pot which is approximately 1 to 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. The container may be clay, ceramic or plastic, but should have drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the bulb in good, well-drained potting soil. Add a small amount of potting soil in the bottom of the pot. Center the bulb in the middle of the pot. Then add additional potting soil, firming it around the roots and bulb. When finished potting, the upper one- half to two-thirds of the bulb should remain above the soil surface. Also, leave about one inch between the soil surface and the pot’s rim. Then water well and place in a warm (70 F) location.

Before watering the preplanted amaryllis bulb, check the pot. If the bulb is in a pot without drainage holes, add drainage holes or transfer the bulb to a pot with drainage holes.

After the initial watering, allow the soil to dry somewhat before watering again. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. When growth appears, move the plant to a sunny window and apply a water-soluble fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks.

During flower stalk elongation, turn the pot each day to keep the flower stalk growing straight. Flower stalks that lean badly, may need to be staked.

Flowering usually occurs about 4 to 6 weeks after potting. When the amaryllis begins to bloom, move the plant to a slightly cooler location that doesn’t receive direct sun to prolong the life of the flowers.

Pot amaryllis bulbs in early to mid-November for bloom during the Christmas holidays. Flower colors include red, pink, orange, salmon, white, and bicolors (mostly whites with pink or red flushes). Excellent varieties include: ‘Red Lion’ deep crimson red, ‘White Christmas’ snow white, ‘Apple Blossom’ soft pink and white, ‘Prince Carnival’ white with red stripes, ‘Minerva’ red with white star, and ‘Picotee’ white with red edge.

This article originally appeared in the October 10, 1997 issue, p. 142.

How to Care for Amaryllis

  • Care for amaryllis by placing it in a cool (mid-60 degree) location with bright, indirect light during winter.
  • When watering amaryllis, avoid soaking the soil and don’t wet the parts of the bulb above the soil.
  • When flowers fade, trim the stem down to within 1 inch of the neck of the bulb.
  • To promote blossoms for next year, water and feed your amaryllis with Miracle-Gro® Indoor Plant Food every 7-14 days.
  • In the spring, you can move your plant outside to a bright, sunny spot.
  • Near the end of summer, bring your amaryllis indoors and begin the transition to bulb dormancy as it prepares for beautiful winter blooms.

The amaryllis is starting to rival the poinsettia as a floral choice for the holiday season. It’s a beautiful bulb plant that produces large, colorful bell-shaped flowers and thrives indoors. Most people treat their amaryllis bulbs as “one-and-done” flowers. In truth, they just get better with time. The bulbs get bigger, producing more flower stems. Here are some steps for taking care of your amaryllis year-round.

Amaryllis Forcing Indoors: How To Force Amaryllis Bulbs In Soil

Patience is a virtue it is said. That is one virtue some of us lack when it comes to growing amaryllis flowers. Fortunately, we can trick the bulbs into thinking it is time to flower. There are some schools of thought that say forcing amaryllis bulbs in soil versus water is the best method. Here are some tips on how to force amaryllis bulbs in soil for a successful project that will brighten your home and your mood.

How to Force Amaryllis Bulbs in Soil

Purchased forced bulbs allow you to enjoy flowers earlier than they are produced in nature. This jump start on spring can brighten the dark spaces in the winter home. Amaryllis forcing indoors is easy and allows you to watch the tall stems grow right before your eyes. Take a do-it-yourself approach and try amaryllis bulb forcing. Kits are available readily or you can force the previous season’s bulb, provided you kept it in a dry location.

The first step is to make sure you have healthy bulbs. Choose large bulbs without blemish or mold. If you stored them from the previous year and they got moist, rot may have set in and these should be discarded. Forcing amaryllis bulbs in soil is best since it minimizes the chances of any rot forming on the bulb. Some people force amaryllis in water, but if your home is humid or the bulb is too low in the water, fungal damage can occur.

The next step is choosing the proper container. The bulbs don’t need a large pot in spite of their massive blooms and tall stems. Pick one that drains well and is about 1 or 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. Planting the bulb at the proper depth comes next.

Fill the bottom of the pot with a couple of inches of soil. Situate the bulb about midway in the container and fill up to the top with soil. The bulb should have the top third sticking out of the soil when you are finished. Push in a bamboo or other type stake just to the side of the bulb. This will help support those leggy leaves and stem when the growth becomes tall.

Water the soil well, ensuring excess moisture is draining from the bottom. A key to amaryllis forcing indoors is temperature. Best, most rapid growth will occur if the container is in a room that is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C.).

Do not water the container again until you see green growth. Provide bright indirect light and evenly moist (not soggy) soil once the leaves have begun to appear.

Amaryllis Bulb Forcing Care

It might seem that faster growth would occur with a little plant food but hold your horses. Wait until you see green. It can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks for growth to appear. You can try to stimulate the bulb by placing it on a warming mat. Then fertilize with a diluted (by half) water soluble food every 2 to 3 weeks.

Rotate the pot every few days as growth continues to keep the stalk straight. Depending upon the variety of amaryllis, blooming should take place 6 to 8 weeks after potting. Once the flowers appear, move the plant to a location with indirect light to prolong the blooms.

Amaryllis bulb forcing in soil is one of those no brainers once you have a few tricks up your sleeve. In no time you will be face to face with one of the most brilliant flowers available.

Yard and Garden: Forcing Amaryllis Bulbs Indoors for Holiday Use

AMES, Iowa – It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is almost here. One of the best parts of the season is enjoying colorful seasonal holiday plants like amaryllis. What is the best way to force amaryllis indoors? When do they need to be prepared with the holidays in mind?

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists can help answer questions about the best way to force and prepare amaryllis indoors. To have additional questions answered, contact the ISU Hortline at 515-294-3108 or [email protected]

What types of amaryllis are available for forcing indoors?

Amaryllis are available in a wide range of colors. Flower colors include red, pink, orange, salmon, white and bicolors. Single-flowering, double-flowering and miniature amaryllis cultivars are available.

Double-flowering cultivars include ‘Aphrodite’ (white with pinkish red feathering), ‘Blossom Peacock’ (rose-red with white throat and midrib), ‘Dancing Queen’ (red and white striped), ‘Inferno’ (dark red), and ‘White Nymph’ (white).

Miniature cultivars are only slightly shorter than their single- and double-flowering counterparts. However, their flowers are about half the width of the large flowering types. Excellent miniature cultivars include ‘Baby Star’ (crimson red with white center star), ‘Fairytale’ (white with raspberry red stripes), ‘Green Goddess’ (white with green center), and ‘Neon’ (fuchsia pink with white throat).

How do I pot up an amaryllis bulb?

When planting an amaryllis bulb, select a pot that is approximately 1 to 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. The container may be clay, ceramic or plastic, but should have drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the bulb in a well-drained potting mix. Place a small amount of potting mix in the bottom of the pot. Center the bulb in the middle of the pot. Then add additional potting mix, firming it around the roots and bulb. When finished potting, the upper one-half of the bulb should remain above the soil surface. Also, leave about 1 inch between the soil surface and the pot’s rim. Then water thoroughly and place in a warm (70 to 75 F) location.

After the initial watering, water just enough to keep the potting mix barely moist. When growth appears, move the plant to a sunny window and water more frequently. During flower stalk elongation, turn the pot daily to keep the flower stalk growing straight. Stake flower stalks that lean badly.

When the amaryllis begins to bloom, move the plant to a slightly cooler (65 to 70 F) location that doesn’t receive direct sun to prolong the life of the flowers.

South African-grown amaryllis bulbs typically bloom four to six weeks after potting. Cultivars commonly grown in South Africa include ‘Blushing Bride,’ ‘Merry Christmas,’ and ‘Wedding Dance.’ Dutch-grown amaryllis bulbs typically bloom six to eight weeks after potting. Cultivars commonly grown in the Netherlands include ‘Aphrodite,’ ‘Apple Blossom,’ ‘Baby Star,’ ‘Dancing Queen,’ ‘Minerva,’ ‘Naranja,’ ‘Picotee,’ and ‘Red Lion.’

Way to Get Amaryllis to Re-bloom

An Easier Way to Get Amaryllis to Re-bloom

Q. Last Christmas a friend gave us an amaryllis that bloomed beautifully. I kept it alive after the holidays and then moved it outside, where it grew lots of new leaves all summer and fall. But the leaves never turned yellow, and I finally brought it back inside just before our first freeze. Should I cut off the leaves, or are they still nourishing the bulb? How do I care for it so that it will bloom again?

— Rebecca in Silver Spring, Maryland

A. I have to confess that when an old amaryllis of mine re-blooms, it’s a total accident. But my sister-in-law Maureen (my brother’s wife) down in Virginia Beach “shared” a photo of her astounding re-blooming success on Facebook earlier this year, so I decided to interview her about her technique.

(I say she “quote” shared a photo because she was obviously bragging. And to really rub my nose in it, she pointed out that the bulbs in question had been a gift from me some ten years ago! Where I grew up, that’s called ‘putting the boot in’. )

Hey—I would brag too; the plant has matured sensationally under her care.

So: What’s her secret? First, she has a good hand with houseplants in general; orchids also rebloom well for her.

More importantly, she has somewhat accidentally fallen into a rhythm where she doesn’t try to force her amaryllis to rebloom AT Christmas; she lets them follow a more normal pattern that allows the bulbs to take advantage of a full summer’s sun to really recharge. (She also suspects that the bulbs like being rootbound; she says that she’s only repotted them once in the past ten years—and that was because the growing bulbs had split the pot open!)

And yes, that’s “bulbs” plural. Apparently I gave her a set of three bulbs designed to be nestled together in a big round pot way back when. Which is a relief—I would have been insanely jealous if she had gotten a display like this from a single, ten-year-old bulb. (She told me that she was tempted to try and separate them once, but the roots had become so tangled together she was afraid she’d damage them if she tried.)

Anyway: The first year, she explains, she set the new bulbs in their soil-filled pot (being careful to keep half of each bulb well above the soil line), watered them, put them in decent light and they bloomed nicely. (I’ve never heard of new, first-time bulbs not putting on a good show.) Then she clipped off the tops of the stalks after the flowers had faded, which is important. Seedheads typically form at the top of the stalk after the flowers are gone, and if you don’t clip them off, they’ll drain energy from the bulbs.

Now, at this point, new leaves will emerge from each bulb if they haven’t already. Give them the best light you can. I suspect the fact that this happens in January with holiday amaryllis is one big limiting factor for re-bloom, because these tropical bulbs are like Spring bulbs in one important regard: After the flowers fade, the leaves must collect lots of solar energy to fuel the growth of the next round of flowers. Sunshine is abundant when Spring bulbs are recharging outdoors in April and May—but the months after Christmas, not so much.

And unlike Spring bulbs, which love cold weather, amaryllis are tropical, so the plants can’t go outside until there’s no risk of frost. Which my sister-in-law explains she waited to do that first year; she put the bulbs out after the weather warmed up and fed them—you should always give your amaryllis a gentle feeding as soon as they go outside.

But then she says she essentially forgot about them until it started getting chilly in late fall. Then she brought them back inside and let them rest in a cool dark place with no water for a couple of months. (In their pot, which is fine; there’s no need to take the bulbs out of their pots during dormancy—and there may be advantages to NOT removing them.)

Oh—and just like our listener (remember our listener? The one with the question?), Maureen told me that her leaves are often still green in November. It doesn’t matter; you have to bring the plants back inside before it gets too cold outside. (And photosynthesis is essentially over by mid-October.) So stop watering, let the leaves turn brown naturally, and begin the six week to three month rest period.

Then be patient, because now is when you can set up your perfect timing schedule. Maureen says she typically lets her bulbs continue to rest over the holidays, and then brings them back into bright light and starts watering again right around Valentine’s Day. (The photo was taken in March of this year, when they had hit full bloom.)

BUT, she cautions, she lives in a pretty moderate climate (next stop along the coast is pretty much the Carolinas) and so she can typically put the plants outside shortly after they finish blooming. People in chillier areas than far Southern Virginia should let their bulbs rest a little longer, aiming for keeping them indoors for the shortest possible time after flowering is over. (You want an easy guideline to remember? Plan on taking them outside when it’s safe to plant tomatoes in your region.)

Take them outside when all risk of frost is gone, gently feed them, let the new leaves soak up rays for the entire summer, and when summer is totally gone, bring the bulbs inside to a cool dark spot and let them have a nice long dormant period. With this ‘relaxed timing’, the bulbs don’t have to go through the long period of poor light they have to endure when you try to rush them into re-blooming at Christmas.

In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the closer to April you wait to ‘wake them up’, the better the future re-blooms will be!

How to get your amaryllis to bloom twice a year

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum hybrids) have beautiful, exotic flowers that come in an array of colors and are most often purchased and grown to bloom around the holidays. But you don’t have to pitch them when the holidays are over! If it’s hard to say goodbye to your beautiful amaryllis flowers, follow our steps below. Come summertime, you’ll be greeted by another round of these blooming beauties.

See also How to repot an orchid

Step one — Encourage your bulb to bloom

Start with the biggest bulb you can buy, and choose a container that’s 1 ½ or 2 in. wider than the diameter of the bulb. Put the bulb in all-purpose potting mix and let the top quarter poke above the soil line. Then, to care for the bulb:

  • Water thoroughly and set it in a sunny south-facing window. Once you see green peeking from the top of the bulb, start watering every time the soil gets dry (about once a week).
  • Fertilize with a water-soluble plant food.
  • Over the next few weeks, several stalks emerge and eventually set buds and bloom. When the blooms open, move the plant out of direct light so the color doesn’t fade. Remove the spent flowers as needed.

Step two — Let the bulb go dormant

When the flowers are done, cut the spent flower stalks back near the base. Let the foliage grow for a couple months and keep up the watering and fertilizing schedule. Then it’s time to force the bulb into dormancy:

  • Stop watering and move your amaryllis to a cool, dark place — 40 to 45 degrees F. You might want to tip the pot so you won’t absentmindedly water it.
  • Let the bulb rest like this for eight to 10 weeks. Don’t worry about removing any of the foliage right now.

Check out our Flower & Plant Guide

Step three — Prepare the bulb to bloom again

After the rest period of eight to 10 weeks, bring your amaryllis back out and start over.

  • Pull off the dead foliage and water. You may need to set the pot in a tub of water to rehydrate dry soil.
  • Set it once again in a sunny window and begin regularly watering and fertilizing as green emerges.
  • In several weeks, you can expect another round of blooms.

Pushing an amaryllis to rebloom takes its toll. And your bulb will probably get smaller each time, ending up as mostly just a papery husk that you’ll throw away. But by following these steps, you can get several flushes of blooms over a couple of years from one bulb. And who wouldn’t want that?

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