Amaryllis After Christmas — Now What?

January 30, 2009 | By | Comments (38)

Redamaryllis Everyone loves amaryllis. After it finishes blooming, though, you’re probably wondering, “What the heck do I do with it now? Should I just throw it out?”

This was the question posed by Debbie, a curious and obviously committed reader. She writes, “What are the necessary steps to do afterward if you want that same bulb to grow and bloom again?  How many times can you do this process before the bulb  will no longer grow and bloom again? I am a novice with plants, so please give me step by step instruction.”

Debbie, you are indeed fortunate. You have contacted the all-knowing Grump, who has been blooming the same amaryllis bulbs year after year. It’s easy to do if you follow these steps.

1. After the flowers fade, cut off the bloom stalk. If the pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, transplant the bulb to a slightly bigger pot that has one.  Fill the pot with fresh potting soil and plant the bulb so that its top third shows above the soil surface. Your bulb can stay in this same pot for many years.

2. Large, strappy leaves will emerge from the bulb. Place the pot near a bright window until it’s warm enough to set the bulb outside. When it is, place the bulb in a sunny spot. Water often enough the keep the leaves firm and prevent them from wilting or turning brown along the edges. Every couple of weeks, feed the bulb using liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer.

3. Continue this practice until September. Then cease feeding and reduce watering to once a week. Come October, stop watering entirely. After the leaves turn yellow, cut them off. Take the pot inside before a frost and place it in a cool, dark area. Ignore it for the next two months.

4. When the two months are up, water once more and wait to see signs of life. If things go well, you should see a big, fat green flower bud emerge from the top of the bulb. At this point, bring the pot and bulb back into the light and begin watering normally. After it finishes blooming, go back to step 1.

One thing you have to know is that amaryllises normally bloom in spring, not in December. The ones that bloom for Christmas are grown in greenhouses to get them to behave that way. If you want amaryllis blooms for Christmas, buy some that are blooming then. The Grump finds it easier to let the bulbs do their own thing.

Amaryllis from Seed?

The questions about amaryllis just keep flooding in! Here’s an interesting one from Charlotte, who wants to know what to do with seeds that form if you don’t cut off the bloom stalk.

“A friend gave me a handful of Amaryllis seeds from her plants to “root” a plant. She thinks since I grow African violets and one orchid I can grow anything…HA!  I have no idea what to do with these seeds.  I live in Denver, CO. Hope you can help.”

The Grump is happy to help with your question. The first thing to do is to determine which seeds are viable, as not all are. Thin, chaff-like seeds with no discernible “bump” in the middle are likely worthless, as they lack embryos to make new plants. The next thing you’ll need is a wide, shallow, clear plastic or glass container.

Fill the container about halfway or a little more with with warm, not hot, water. Float each amaryllis seed on the surface. Give the container bright light, but not direct sun. Any non-viable seed that you didn’t detect before should sink to the bottom. After several days, each viable seed will sprout a white root.

When the root is a half-inch or so long, fill a pot with moist potting soil. Use a pencil to poke a hole in the potting mix. Carefully insert the white root into the hole, firm potting soil around it, and water. The seed itself should be sitting flat on the soil surface. Again, give the container bright light, but not direct sun. After several days, a small, grasslike leaf will emerge. Gradually move the pot into the stronger light of an east or west window. The amaryllis will slowly form a tiny bulb. Feed every couple of weeks with liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to half-strength.

Don’t expect flowers right away. That will take a couple of years, until the bulb has reached sufficient size. In the meantime, why don’t you get even and send your friend lots of African violet and orchid seeds?

COMMENTS

  1. Steve Bender

    Scrape off the mushy stuff and let that end of the bulb dry. Then plant the bulbs in pots and begin watering. They should send out both roots and leaves. GG

    May 17, 2013 at 6:50 am
  2. Carol

    I’ve been growing amaryllis for many years in Minnesota. I plant them outside in the spring and bring them in, in the winter. This year I asked my daughter for a new one at Christmas
    time and instead of one I received 9. I thought I could just wait until spring to plant them, along with my other ones, so I just put them in the garage, but when I took them out now, the roots have dried up and they have no roots, a couple of them are mushy on the bottom, but several are still starting to sprout, even without roots. So far, I’ve put them in pots outside, but I’m wondering if I should be doing something else, to get the root system growing again and also what to do about the mushy stuff. Should I cut that off? I just scraped some of it off so far.

    May 10, 2013 at 9:44 am
  3. Sherry

    Okay thanks. Appreciate your response.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:10 am
  4. Steve Bender

    Sherry,
    The amaryllis that you buy in bloom for the holidays are forced by growers to bloom then. In a garden, they naturally bloom in spring. I have several plants nearly 10 years old. What you want to do now is remove any old flower stalks. As soon as the danger of frost is past, take the pot and bulb outside to a sunny spot. It needs about 3 months of dormancy to come into bloom again, which is why I suggested cutting off water in September. I guess you could try waking it up a little earlier if you want it to bloom again for Christmas.

    April 1, 2013 at 10:35 am
  5. Sherry

    Hi there,

    I am so happy to have found this b/c I received an Amaryllis for Christmas but I’m a little confused as to what to do with it now.
    I planted it in a pot indoors in January, and it grew and bloomed beautifully. But then of course the flowers died. However I still have the green leaves and the plant has been like that for 2 months. It’s still in the same pot, inside. My question is…. how do I get the sucker to start blooming when it should…. in the spring? If I’m understanding your instructions correctly, I would bring it outside now (today is March 29th) and let it do it’s thing until September and then put it in a cool, dark dry place until November. Then it will start to flower again once I start to wake it up. But that would be December. You mentioned they are really a spring bloomer, so … I’m a little confused.

    (I live in Georgia by the way). Thanks in advance!

    March 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm
  6. Steve Bender

    Judy,

    Yes.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:23 am
  7. Judi Culver

    I recently found your fantastic amaryllis article above. I determined that it was time for me to cut off the bloom stalk, but then I read about the seeds – I’m intrigued now. So I haven’t removed the bloom stalk because I want to try starting from seed. Do I need to wait for the seed pod to dry up (it’s green right now) before I remove the stalk?

    February 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm
  8. Steve Bender

    Debra,
    After the flowers fade, the stalks form seed pods. Letting the seed ripen takes strength from the bulb. So as soon as the flowers fade, I cut off the stalks. Don’t cut back the leaves until they turn yellow in fall.

    February 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm
  9. Debra Madden

    I got a amaryllis for a Christmas gift it was in a sack so i put it in the pot like it said it had 2 flower stalks with one flower on one and 2 on the other i put it in the window watered it then the flowers died I didn’t know i was to cut the dead flowers off so now there are big leaves have grown really fast and the three bud like things that I was thinking was new flowers have busted open and I have seeds coming out of them which i just found out on line they were seeds. I have one more that needs to drop its seeds then I don’t know what to do with the plant or the seeds put seeds on a plate. Help what to do next think the flowers were white so much info. But has been fun don’t want to trash plant but can’t find any info on what to do after you take all the seeds out i did pinch the one seed pod off have two more to go sorry I am going on and on.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:00 am
  10. Steve Bender

    Gina,

    Click this link to read a recent post on care of holiday plants. It’ll tell you all you need to know. http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2012/12/27/how-to-care-for-holiday-plants/

    January 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm
  11. GINA CHAVEZ

    I LIVE IN ALBUQUERQUE,NM AND THE LAST BLOOM JUST FELL OFF MY AMARYLLIS BULB. SHOULD I LEAVE THE LEAVES ON IT TO FEED THE BULB OR SHOULD I CUT THEM OFF? RIGHT NOW THE LEAVES ARE TOP HEAVY AND BREAKING. I GOT THIS PLANT FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR.(2012) HELP!!!!!!!!!! IT VERY COLD HERE RIGHT NOW AND I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO DO.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:45 pm
  12. Steve Bender

    Joan,
    Sometimes amaryllis bulbs bought for Christmas aren’t big enough to flower. It probably will next year if you follow the care instructions above. Just remember that whenever you buy an amaryllis bulb from a greenhouse or florist, make sure it already has a flower stalk or two showing.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm
  13. Steve Bender

    Jane,
    They must put on quite a show!

    January 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm
  14. Steve Bender

    Myrtle,
    The bulb will not need watering until it starts growing leaves. When it does, I suggest potting it up using commercial potting soil. The top of the bulb should be just even with the soil surface. Then water the bulb enough to keep the soil slightly moist. Take it outside to a sunny spot in summer and water it as often as necessary to keep the leaves from wilting.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm
  15. Joan

    I purchased a red amaryllis bulb that was supposed to flower for Christmas. I followed the planting and watering and lightiing instructions to the letter. The leaves have grown 2 feet high (two bent and fell over) and we did not get any flowers at all. What happened? Thanks for any help.

    January 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm
  16. Jane Pyle

    Thanks for the info! I inherited two pots of ‘plants’ from my 93 year old uncle last spring. He received them in 1979 from my Grandmother. He said he can remember them since the early 60′s ! brought them home and discovered they are amaryllis ! In these two pots, there are probably 80 bulbs of various sizes. All he’d ever done to them was leave them in a southern facing window and water them. I divided one of the pots into several other smaller pots did all the stuff listed and they’re already starting to flower. How’s that for hardy!!

    January 2, 2013 at 8:30 am
  17. myrtle miller

    I purchased two amaryllis plants recently and threw away the packaging so I’m not sure when to water them. The bulb has started blooming and is sitting in a round container that sits on rocks. Is it necessary to plant them soon and when should I start to water them?

    December 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm
  18. Emma

    I live in Burlington NC and have an amaryllis that I received as a single bulb Christmas gift December 2003( ordered from Harry and David). It blooms every spring and stays outside all summer. Before frost each year, I move inside to our garage. It has been repotted at least four times. Each stalk has 5 huge flowers and there are at least 20 stalks this year. Spectacular!!! I have pictures if anyone is interested.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm
  19. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Candy,
    Amaryllis usually bloom every spring if they are happy. When you putout them out this year, give them plenty of sun, make sure they don’t dry out, and feed every two weeks through summer with Miracle-Gro.
    Lee,
    They should bloom every spring. Try feeding them with Miracle-Gro every 3 weeks through summer.
    Mel,
    I have never experienced anything like this. Wish I had an answer.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm
  20. Mel

    I have an Amaryillis in a pot, last year it bloomed red, I took seeds from it which are growing well, allowed it outside all summer, it died back in the winter & has bloomed again now, this time it is white . It is without doubt the same bulb, I’ve carefully labelled it. Interestingly I got refunds on 2 other bulbs that flowered red when I bought them as other colours. I’m in the UK so indoor only growing . I’ve been looking for genetic or other info on this any ideas folks ?

    April 19, 2012 at 8:01 am
  21. Lee Simmons

    my dad has MANY amaryllis bulbs planted in his yard (Summerville, SC), only a few bloom. do they only bloom every other year? Thanks for any suggestions.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:08 am
  22. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Susan,
    There is a good chance that the bulb will send out new leaves. Let those grow all summer and fall.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:54 am
  23. Susan

    I already cut the leaves off my amaryllis after it bloomed. Can I still salvage the bulb? What do I do?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm
  24. Candy

    I have 5 amaryllis that all bloomed last year. After the bloom and after frost (I live in SW Minnesota) I put them pots with the beautiful leaves outside. I cut back the leaves in the fall after they had yellowed and put them in the basement. I started watering in mid December and one did bloom. But the rest put out the most beautiful huge dark green leaves, but no bloom stalk. Will they still bloom this year? If not, what did I do wrong, so that next winter I can get bloom again.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:21 am
  25. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Charlotte, the “knobby bit” is the seed pod. Seeds are found inside of it.

    January 16, 2012 at 8:34 am
  26. charlotte Christou

    Hi i am from the UK england and reading your notes to learn what to do with amaryllis now he is over – it was beautiful with 3 flowers… i note here though you mention about the seeds.. are the seeds the knobby bit that are at the end of the dead flower or inside this knobby bit? many thanks. Charlotte X

    January 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm
  27. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Kathy,
    The same procedure applies in Tucson. The only difference would be if you decided to grow your amaryllis outdoors for the summer. In that case, I would give it light shade during the hottest part of the day.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm
  28. Kathy

    I live inTucson, AZ, and am wondering if the usual care of the amaryllis applies to this area, where summers are over 100 degrees a good part of the summer. Thanks for your great site.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm
  29. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Barbara,
    Unfortunately, amaryllis is not winter-hardy in your area. You’ll have to grow them in pots that you take out in spring and bring inside before a freeze in fall. My latest post on the Grumpy Gardener, “Holiday Plants — Before & After Care,” tells how to grow amaryllis after the holidays.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm
  30. Barbara Bragg

    I live in zone 7 of Virginia and planted several amaryllis bulbs, which I purchased from Brent and Becky bulbs in my outdoor flower garden. They bloom beautifully every spring. May I planted my four Christmas amaryllis in the garden and if so should I plant them in the Spring and what should I do to them prior to planting time? Thanks

    December 31, 2011 at 5:16 pm
  31. MARILYN

    SENDING THIS SO I CAN PRINT IT

    December 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm
  32. DebbieDoDa

    Thank you!

    February 18, 2011 at 12:30 am
  33. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Debbie,
    Absolutely not! The leaves are what make food for the plant so it can bloom net year. Leave the foliage alone until it starts to yellow and wither in fall, then remove it.

    February 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm
  34. DebbieDoDa

    Do I cut the long flat leaves off when I cut the spent flower stalk before repotting the bulb?

    February 11, 2011 at 10:49 am
  35. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Yes, Molly, you have to plant the bulb in soil, as it’s not an aquatic plant. Follow the directions above.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm
  36. Molly Martin

    Dear Grumpy Gardener,
    I received an amaryillis after Christmas. It was jsut a bulb. So I planted it in soil and for several weeks it did nothing so I put it in water and it bloomed in about 3 weeks and it was the most beautiful amaryllis I have ever seen!! Now it is dying back and I am wondering since it was in water should I now plant it in soil and follow your plan for future blooming?
    Please email me your answer to molly@mollymartin.com or molly.martin@coloradohomes.com
    Thank you so much!!!

    February 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm
  37. Grumpy Gardener

    You can do that in Birmingham too, only it’s a little iffy. They’ll come up in spring for years, but if it ever gets really cold — say, in the single digits — you’ll probably lose them. We had neighbors across the street who got a different color of amaryllis every year and planted it out in a flower bed every spring. When they all bloomed, the garden looked like a clown’s pants.
    Now there is one amaryllis that is quite hardy for us — St. John’s lily (Hippeastrum x johnsonii), an old Southern passalong. It has multiple spikes of red blooms with a white starburst in the center.

    February 4, 2009 at 7:03 am
  38. Coastal Alabama

    I live on the coast of Alabama (zone 8B) so in spring I plant my amaryllis outside in my flower bed and they bloom on their own year after year!

    February 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm

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