I've been reading and reading various 'tips' for newly purchased bulbs and those that bloomed a previous year where we hope to see a second year's bloom.
There are many instructions online on how to grow Hippeastrums. I am going to share some of my tips and opinions. All photos are my own.
1. You get what you pay for. I've bought sale bulbs, packaged for Christmas bulbs, sprouted bulbs at a garden center. I've ordered off for bulbs. Top size bulbs cost more. They also offer a second bloom stalk, sometimes a third and each stalk will have up to four blooms on that single stalk.
Relatively inexpensive bulbs from a big box store will bloom. With care, they can be grown bigger for subsequent years. Sometimes you get surprises when they are not true to label.
2. When the instructions say, "1/2" to 2" larger than the bulb" for the pot, 2" all the way around larger is much better. Amaryllis make lots of roots, a pot full of roots. The little plastic pots that sometimes come packaged with a bulb are flimsy and will fall over. I use a sturdy pot, preferably a terra cotta pot.
Glass vases for forcing, used for narcissus the next year.
Reformed after 50 years, I no longer force bulbs in water and stones.
3. Choices of medium are water and stones, coir, or potting soil. My belief is that bulbs prefer to grow in soil. There is no nutrition in water, and little in coir. A bulb brought to bloom in water may as well be tossed at the end; it is spent. Coir is little better. The spent bulb could be planted out and rehabilitated but why not keep it growing the whole time in a pot of good soil?
Amaryllis bulbs in a pot of soil
4. If you have reasons for wanting to force your bulb in water, and people do have reasons, the available kits do not have sufficient stones to hold a bulb upright and give the roots room to grow. Get some extra stones or glass marbles. The pretty kits with glass cylinger vases I bought had less than an inch of stones. Even with added stones and some aquarium charcoal, my bulbs rotted.
6. Leave the stalk and let it wither, then snip it off. Keep the leaves growing on the way you treat any other house plant: food and water.
7. The process of drying off the bulb in late summer and then bringing it to life again is not necessary unless you want to time the bloom. The bloom I thought I would see in December is gong to open at the end of February. Very tricky, the timing thing.
8. When I brought out my bulb that was sprouting new growth before the old leaves died, I lifted it out of the pot, put a little potting soil underneath it and gave it a little top dressing, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed. The old soil had settled and this gave it an opportunity to get renewal.
9. If you live in a warm climate: zones 8, 9, 10 and above, bulbs can be planted in the garden.
Blooming in my garden the second year after forcing.
What has been your experience with bringing an Amaryllis bulb to bloom? Did you get blossoms the second year?