Amaryllis Noob in Need of Guidance
December 2, 2014 8:21 PM   Subscribe

I received an amaryllis bulb as a gift last winter. I followed the instructions on the box and it bloomed beautifully.

With spring, I moved it (pot and all) to our front porch, where I watered occasionally and just mostly ignored it. The porch btw has morning sun followed by all shade. I live in Louisville, zone 7. The leaves withered and died over the course of the spring, then around early fall, the leaves came back.

The pot is now indoors, with three long healthy-looking leaves. I would love to get it to bloom again, but I don't know how possible that is this year. Everything I read said to bring it to a cool indoors spot a period of time before you want it to bloom and withhold water. After dormancy, water as usual. Some websites advise to repot. I didn't do any of this and I don't think that sitting on the porch during summer being mostly ignored counts as dormancy. I moved it indoors when it got cold (hard frost advisory), so it spent a couple months outside in up and down temperatures--we had a few separate warm and cool spells this fall.

I'm really happy this plant is alive! I would love for it to bloom again this winter. I assume it is far too late for a solstice-timed bloom...what about later in the winter? Should I just keep it alive the rest of this year and do the dormancy thing next early fall or can I still put it in the basement and not water for a while? What about skipping the dormancy and moving to a warmer spot in the house? If I do any of this should I keep or cut off the leaves? How much should I be watering? I read quite a bit online, but nothing I've seen addresses my particular combination of nurture and ignorance. Any advice from seasoned amaryllis fanciers?
posted by chaoticgood to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
The leaves withered and died over the course of the spring, then around early fall, the leaves came back.
Were you watering indifferently throughout? or did they just die and then come back on their own?

If you were watering, I would now cease watering, move it away from the sun (cool not so important, dessication is) until all the extant leaves dry out and die and then reboot it with water and light exposure in at least a month.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:32 PM on December 2, 2014

I buy amaryllis bulbs for Christmas every year. The science behind forcing them to bloom at a particular time is waaaay beyond my capabilities, and I am a fairly accomplished gardener. I live in Zone 7, and I plant them in my garden every year in the spring after they bloom at Christmas. I make sure they are heavily mulched over the winter, and it takes another year of summer sunshine before they bloom again. They are gorgeous in my spring garden, and some do spread and multiply.
posted by raisingsand at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2014

Best answer: By placing the bulb in a warm, sunny spot indoors after experiencing gradually declining temperatures, you've interrupted its decent into dormancy. It will not bloom without rest, which is what got skipped. I would still go for dormancy! Take it out of its pot and soil, you don't want damp soil rotting the bulb. Make sure you have a cool (40-50 degrees), dark spot. Leave the leaves on, and as they die and dry, pull them away from the bulb. Give the bulb at LEAST six weeks, maybe a week or two more. (I've always heard nine, but the internet says all kinds of things.)

When I managed a gardening center, I had an elderly lady come in one day, and share her dismay that her Amaryllis bulb wasn't doing well suddenly, and that she was saddened by it greatly because she had had the bulb - no kidding - SIXTY YEARS. Plants are tough. Go stick that sucker in the basement.
posted by missmary6 at 9:13 PM on December 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

Missmary is right! If your soil is relatively dry, you could leave them in the soil and move them into a cool, dimly-lit place. I just bring mine into the basement. Let them go dormant over a period of 4-6 weeks. It will look like they are dying. Then bring them back to a sunny window, give them water and food, and wait for that flower stalk to sprout.

I put mine outside in the summer, too, after hardening them off. When frost hits, I bring them inside and ignore them for a while.
posted by Ostara at 9:41 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

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