All the Dirt on Gardening: Tropical Amaryllis Bulb Management

Tropical Red Amaryllis blooming on our windowsill last March with Daffodils outside.

From Thanksgiving through Easter Amaryllis bulbs grow indoors and bloom on windowsills. Often given and received as gift kits, the bulb sits on top of the soil, sprouts thick leaves, and then miraculously blooms on top of a tall stem. Whether the flowers are pink, white, red, single or double, they impress us every time.

Amaryllis bulbs are planted pointed side up, in a potting soil-filled container that is barely larger than the bulb itself. Tropical Amaryllis prefer to be crowded. Leave one-third of bulb showing above the soil and place it in bright light; water regularly.

To have flowers next Christmas, cut back the stem and leaves when the flowers fade. The container can be put outside in the shade for the summer. Water and fertilize until August, then bring it in before the first frost. Keep it in a 60 degree location and stop watering 10-12 weeks before you want it to bloom.

With no leaves and dry conditions, the bulb will send out another flower stalk. Start watering and move the pot to a sunny, warm location. The cycle will resume with leaves and flowers.

If you are going to keep the bulb but do not need it to bloom at a specific time, you can let it re-bloom naturally.

Remove the flower stalk when the flowers fade and fertilize; let the leaves continue to grow. Keep the pot in bright light and away from cold and keep the soil moist. Stop feeding it in August and bring it inside before the first frost. Put it in a cool spot with indirect light.

The leaves will yellow and drop, but keep watering. When new stalks appear in a couple of months, fertilize the bulb and move it to a warm, sunny spot. Leaves and blooms will follow.

You can keep this going for years. Adjust the pot size as the bulb grows and replant side bulbs (bulbils) as they appear. They will bloom in a few years. Amaryllis bulbs can be a great hobby.

Molly Day has been gardening for 40 years and garden writing for 15 years. You can search 2,000 entries in her blog at www.allthedirtongardening.blogspot.com.

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