The Great Christmas Amarillis
January 14th, 2006
Save it For Next Year
Attention: Anyone who received an amaryllis as a gift over the holidays…don’t throw that bulb away just because the flower stalk is now withered and ugly! With a little coddling, you can enjoy the same beautiful blooms next year.
After the blossoms shrivel, cut the flower stem 1 inch above the base with a sharp knife. Continue to water and feed the remaining bulb regularly, and provide plenty of light. Amaryllis can be planted outdoors – pot and all – in partial shade and then into full sunlight during the summer.
For Christmas blooms next year, bring the plants into the garage in late September and place the pots on their sides. Cut off all water. This gives the plants a couple of months to rest before preparing to bloom again during the holidays. If you neglect this step, you will have beautiful leaves year round, but the plant will not likely ever bloom again.
In November, remove any dead leaves and replace the top couple of inches of potting soil. Resist the urge to pot up, as amaryllis like being jammed into a small space; there should only be about 1″ between the bulb and the pot. Thoroughly water, place in a sunny window indoors and wait until growth emerges.
Once a flower bud becomes evident, continue watering when soil becomes dry, and make sure the plant is receiving plenty of sunlight. Water well during blooming, but put the plant in a less bright spot to help the flowers last longer. Then, when the flowers begin to fade, it’s time to start the whole process over again.
If you’re in USDA hardiness zone 7b or warmer, amaryllis can also be grown outdoors like any other flowering bulb, although many of the Dutch hybrid types will not do that well. Just make sure the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Space bulbs about a foot apart and barely cover the bulb tops with soil. Select a sunny spot in the garden that receives some shade during the afternoon hours. Avoid placing the bulb where it will dry out excessively; a light layer of mulch will help retain moisture and keep the bulb from overheating in hot weather.