Amaryllis After Christmas — Now What?

January 30, 2009 | By | Comments (66)

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. 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
  2. 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
  3. Steve Bender

    Dorajean,

    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
  4. 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
  5. Steve Bender

    Charlotte,

    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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. Leslie

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

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

    Leslie,

    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
  13. 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
  14. Steve Bender

    Charlene,

    Leave the leaves and repot if needed.

    May 15, 2015 at 9:14 am
  15. CHARLENE BROUSSARD

    MY PLANT NEVER GOT RID OF ALL ITS LEAVES. NOW IT HAS A VERY LONG LEAF AND BESIDE IT IS A SHORT ONE. SHOULD I CIT THEM OFF OR LEAVE THEM AND JUST REPOT?

    May 15, 2015 at 8:33 am
  16. 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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