Amaryllis After Christmas — Now What?

January 30, 2009 | By | Comments (83)

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?


  1. Steve Bender

    It has just produced another bulb. You can divide the two bulbs and give its own pot or leave them both in the original pot. In either case, you’ll get twice the blooms now.

    February 23, 2017 at 8:17 am
  2. Dorothy Warwaruk

    I bought an amaryllis in the store in the fall, but didn’t do anything with it until close to Christmas. That means it bloomed after Christmas. The bloom stalk dried up, but what do I do with it now? This is the middle of February. Thank you for your time.

    February 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm
  3. shirley wittine

    my christmas ameryllis has produced a bulb like lump on one of the stalks. What do I do with it?

    February 12, 2017 at 8:35 am
  4. Jenny Badcock

    I have a few amaryllis in the ground. Last spring is the first time they didn’t bloom, but the bed has gotten too shady I think. I bought another from a nursery to have blooming for Christmas and now the blooms are dead. I’ll give your instructions a try to bloom it again next Christmas. So… is it possible to dig up the bulbs I have in the ground next fall and then force them to bloom for Christmas?

    January 4, 2017 at 9:35 am
  5. Steve Bender

    Do the flower stalks have leaves? If not, what you have are amaryllis lookalike called magic lilies or naked ladies (Lycoris squamigera). They typically bloom in August.

    August 18, 2016 at 11:47 am
  6. Karin

    Just to comment, we live in Oregon, and we have amaryllis coming up in our yard now!! The lady that owned this house years ago must have planted them in the yard. They just came up next to our house recently (August) Like 6 different bunches of several stalks each. So….I guess you can replant outside!?!

    August 13, 2016 at 12:52 am
  7. Grumpy Gardener

    My guess is that forgetting to water sent the plant into temporary dormancy and then when you watered, it woke up, thought it was spring and bloomed. Unfortunately, this makes it less likely to bloom this winter. Let the flowers bloom, cut off the stalks when the flowers fade, and then treat it as you already do.

    July 27, 2016 at 10:57 am
  8. Denise

    I put my amaryllis outside this spring and surprise, it is Christmas in July! The bulb bloomed now. I had forgotten to water it for a day or two and when I remembered there were the flowers. They are not on the tall stalks, though. Should I cut them off and let it rest before the fall? I wanted it to bloom inside this winter.

    July 22, 2016 at 3:29 pm
  9. Steve Bender


    Cut down the bloom stalks after the flowers fade, but don’t cut the leaves until they turn yellow. Fall is a good time to divide.

    July 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm
  10. Helen

    My Amyrillis are on the ground.I mulch them heavy in winter.When they stop blooming can I cut them down?When is the best time to divide them?

    June 27, 2016 at 7:48 am
  11. Grumpy Gardener


    Transplant the amaryllis to a pot with potting soil. It should be an inch or two wider than the bulb. Plant the bulb so that the top half-inch is above the soil. Put it in a sunny place, let the leaves grow, and then just follow the directions above.

    June 15, 2016 at 2:50 pm
  12. Diane

    I was given an amaryllis in a tall glass vase in January for my birthday that sits in shallow rocks. It finally bloomed with two beautiful flowers and then once they died, and the leaves turned I cut them back. I thought it was lost for good, but last week two green leaves started growing and I have one that is now almost two feet long. You are talking about soil and I really didn’t see soil. there was decorative rocks in the bottom but it really was so shallow. I live in an apartment in Texas. Can you advise how I can care for this. I would love to keep this. It has some sentimental value to me. thanks for your help.

    June 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm
  13. Grumpy Gardener


    Yes, it will always bloom in spring.

    May 9, 2016 at 1:35 pm
  14. rmpbklyn (@rmpbklyn)

    mine bloomed 2 weeks ago, april. flowers lasted 1 week. indoor. will it alwasy bloom in spring? we having very cold sprint ,currently 45F in NYC

    May 6, 2016 at 5:50 pm
  15. Grumpy Gardener


    Do exactly what I told Debbie to do in the blog post.

    March 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm
  16. Carla Hollan

    I bought an amaryllis bulb it on sale after Christmas. It bloomed beautifully and then it grew another what looks like a big bloom that has never opened, but otherwise seems just fine sitting there. What should I do? it has been this way for weeks and I still water it, just not as often. It also grew a few more leaves at the bottom of the stalk.


    March 28, 2016 at 12:24 pm
  17. Steve Bender


    Don’t cut off the leaves. Let them grow. When it’s past you spring frost date, take the plant inside. Then bring it inside before your first fall frost and follow the directions above.

    Large bulbs often produce more than one bloom stalk. Enjoy!

    February 11, 2016 at 3:08 pm
  18. Elaine Armstrong

    Before the first blooms faded, a 2nd bloom stalk had started. It is alright to just let it keep going. I want it to continue to bloom at Christmas.

    February 7, 2016 at 10:38 am
  19. Betty

    mine just finished blooming i cut off bloom stalks but have 3 leaves about 3″tall do i cut those off as well? how do i let it go back natural put in pot with drainage and put in sunny window then put outside in summer then bring in in the fall? i live in Colorado zone 4

    February 3, 2016 at 7:47 pm
  20. Steve Bender


    Red flowers opening white occurs in several plants when the flowers open in darkness. Move your amaryllis into bright light before the flower buds open.

    February 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm
  21. Dorajean

    a let my amaryillus go dormat in a dark place for sveral months then brought it in the sun. my plant rebloomed. However my flowers were red when I received it and now that it has rebloomed the flowers are white what happened?

    February 3, 2016 at 8:23 am
  22. Steve Bender


    I’d follow your neighbor’s example. The reason I treat my plants they way I do is because I don’t want to deal with the amaryllis foliage all winter.

    December 14, 2015 at 3:56 pm
  23. Charlotte K

    I had a neighbor in Cambridge Mass. who kept hers year round in a sunny window and treated them like normal house plants (i.e. year round watering, a little feeding now and then) and they bloomed like champs year after year. What was it–the lovely sunny spot? After years of tossing them I’m trying this approach to see what happens.

    December 8, 2015 at 4:34 am
  24. How To Kill Your Amaryllis | Southern Living Blog

    […] But say you’re a wacko appalled at the idea of killing perfectly good bulbs that, if planted, could bloom year after year? Then you’ll want to read this story: “Amaryllis After Christmas — Now What?” […]

    December 6, 2015 at 10:00 am
  25. Steve Bender

    Gina and Eileen,

    Whether an amaryllis will grow and bloom well in the garden depends on where you live. If your soil freezes in winter, you live too far north. Zone 8 is the upper limit of its hardiness. However, you can keep the bulb growing in a pot for many years. Follow directions 1-4 as explained above.

    November 20, 2015 at 1:39 pm
  26. Eileen Williamson

    Dear grumpy, I bought my amaryrill as a bulb on sale just after Christmas and I didn’t plant it until this summer. It grew very tall with only four large leaves but no flower. It gets lots of sun an now it is time to do sometime with it. Bring it inside or let it stay out side and I wonder if I leave it outside if it will die. What should I do and is it going to bloom ever. Pls tell what to do it’s getting time for cold weather and frost. Thanks eileen

    November 14, 2015 at 9:48 pm
  27. gina

    I got an amaryllis 2 Christmas’s ago. I put it in the fridge like I was told and brought it out in Nov. I potted it and all I got for my trouble was two very long leaves and no bud or flower. Last summer I planted it outside and left it there all winter. I live in New Mexico and I mulched it real well with hay and a mound of news paper, then I put a pot on top of it all and covered it with a brick so it would not fly off. This spring I uncovered it and once again all I got were two long green leaves but nothing else. Shouldn’t I have gotten a flower? It is planted in the sunshine and I watered it regularly. Don’t they grow outside in some places?

    September 17, 2015 at 9:49 pm
  28. Leslie

    That’s what I hoped you would say…look forward to those new blooms! Thanks again.

    September 16, 2015 at 4:20 pm
  29. Steve Bender


    It sounds like a dormant bulb to me. You can plant it now and water it. It will probably bloom with your other amaryllis in spring.

    September 14, 2015 at 12:52 pm
  30. Leslie

    Just wanted to follow up with you on the leaf situation I mentioned back in May. Well, before I didn’t have any on the wine amaryllis – now we have some nice ones. Not only have a lot of leaves, but I have to mention that in addition, there is one real tall (2 ft) and a short curved one that is very unique (and pretty). As for the (5) red bulbs, they all bloomed, and now all have leaves except one. And, that one has had leaf tips just showing above the bulb edge for about two months…they just don’t seem to want to show themselves. They are a nice green, so they look healthy – but, I noticed the bulb was loose, so I picked it up, and sure enough – no roots. How do I save this bulb? It looks hearty, but with no roots, I guess now I know why the leaf tips haven’t progressed. Should I water it more for root production? It is in the 90s here so I don’t think it would start to rot. Or, leave it as is, since it is about time to stop watering (and then let it go dormant). I fertilized through August using 20-20-20, should I have used something more particulate to the amaryllis needs, if so, please let me know what to get. Thanks again. You may be grumpy, but you know your stuff!

    September 8, 2015 at 4:41 pm
  31. Steve Bender


    Leave the leaves and repot if needed.

    May 15, 2015 at 9:14 am


    May 15, 2015 at 8:33 am
  33. Leslie

    Central New Jersey

    Thanks so much for the response and support! I will continue to wait and see it the leaves push out – hopefully, with the patience you mentioned, all will work out. I like to keep the plant going with just the leaves as they provide a spectacular view just off of the patio. I just put out the other (red) amaryllis to get some sun – now that it is in the 70s here (finally). They are also starting to bloom without the leaves, but hey, good things come to those who wait, right?! Thanks again for giving me some hope on the soft bulb. What you say makes a lot of sense…! I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    May 3, 2015 at 11:55 am

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