Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Successfully Bringing an Amaryllis to Flower and Flower Again

One of my Last Year's Amaryllis is about to bloom again this year, even though a bit later than I'd planned.

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.

5. Unless you want to try sprouting and growing seeds, snip off the fading bloom so energy goes to the bulb and not seeds. Be aware that it takes 3 to 5 years to see a bloom from seeds. I have seedlings now. I haven't seen a blossom.

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?


  1. I've never gotten amaryllis to rebloom. When I visit my family in New Orleans I see them growing outside. It's an amazing sight to see them planted in a mass encircling a tree.

  2. My Sis gave me one once and I got it to bloom two years before I forgot to dig it up and bring it back in before a freeze. I sank it into the ground each season and then brought it back in to bloom inside.

    I am not good on growing things that take a lot of extra care. I don't dig up dahlias or glads either. So far they have survived.

    Yours are gorgeous.

  3. I thought that I need to throw away my bulbs after the bloom and season is over. Now, I'll try to repot my amaryllis and see how it goes. It is too risky to grow it on the ground due to our rainy weather and the presence of snails who had happily gobbled up almost 1 or 2 of my seedlings every week - sunflower, fruit tree, honeysuckle :(

  4. Glad to read through this post. I have an Amaryllis ready to bloom with two stalks ---already put up one stalk earlier. This is the one that slipped down deeper into the vase, sitting in the water. I thought it was a goner then saw these two new stalks coming up.
    I do have one in dirt from last year and it has just put up floppy foliage. Let it go sort of drier than usual and will give it a shot at 'restarting' its growth. I may have to repot it in a larger pot. As you said the roots are massive. This is the first one I tried indoor reblooming. I usually plant my Amaryllis in the ground after I force them.

  5. Thanks for the tips. I love the colors of all your different varieties. I have two about to bloom about two months later than I had planned. Both put up foliage first and then flowers. -Jean

  6. Woa! Your amaryllis are so beautiful. Could you tell me that where they came from? Thanks

  7. They came from different sources. The orange ones came from a local nursery, the one with a white star in the center and Appleblossom came from a big box store, the dark red one came from Longfields mailorder.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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