8 Frequently Asked Questions for Your Holiday Flowering Amaryllis

Amaryllis blooms are so breath-taking, who knew they also would be so easy and rewarding to grow?  If you’re picking up one of the softball sized bulbs at your local garden centre and holding it in your hands, wondering, asking – should I?  Well, the answer is definite – Yes, you should!

1) How deep do you plant an amaryllis bulb?

Plant the bulb so that the neck and rounded shoulders of the bulb sit above the soil. This is usually the top one third of the bulb. Amaryllis enjoy being pot bound. For an individual bulb, a 15-20 cm (6-8”) diameter pot, at least 15-20 cm (6-8”) deep is good sized. The rim of the pot should be no more than 5 cm (2”) away from the bulb’s shoulders.

2) How often should I water my amaryllis?

Little watering is necessary until the bud and stem appears, then you’ll need to water more often. Check the soil surface with your fingertips – it should be slightly damp. When the soil feels dry to the touch, water sparingly, no more than once a week. Water the soil, not the bulb. As soon as the bud and stem appear, your amaryllis will need more frequent watering, sometimes daily, so be sure to check the soil surface more often.

3) How long will it take for my amaryllis to bloom?

All amaryllis bulbs are ready to bloom when you purchase them. An amaryllis grown indoors during the holiday season will bloom in about 8-11 weeks depending on temperature. Place your pot in a warm and bright indoor location.  Amaryllis are tender bulbs, so avoid exposing them to freezing temperatures. Cooler temperatures will slow down the development and active growth of an amaryllis.

As with other indoor flowering bulbs, avoid placing an amaryllis bulb next to apples or other ripening fruit and produce, as they can emit ethylene gas. It’s harmless to us, but it sterilizes the bulbs and stops the flowering.

Amaryllis season begins in November and hits it peak around Christmas, which makes this flower bulb the perfect gift of the season.

4) How long can an amaryllis bulb live?

Amaryllis bulbs are exceptionally long-lived, even though the flowers fade each season. A bulb can be brought back into bloom for at least 20 years or more, if cared for properly. There are stories of bulbs becoming family heirlooms, being passed down from mother to daughter, from grandmother to granddaughter.

5) How do I care for amaryllis once it’s finished blooming?

Remove faded blooms from the top of the stem, and cut only the stem back to the top of the bulb’s neck. Leave the strappy foliage growing from the bulb. Place the potted bulb in a window filled with bright indirect light, and water it on a regular basis for at least 12-16 weeks or through the summer months. Fertilize it twice a month with a water soluble fertilizer.

In late August, when the foliage yellows and becomes floppy, cut it back to the top of the bulb’s neck. It’s time to stop watering and fertilizing and allow the soil to dry out, as the bulb has entered dormancy. Store the dry potted bulb in a cool dark place (12-15°C) such as a garage or basement for at least 8 weeks. The bulb’s rest period should begin in early September and end in late October if you want blooms in time for Christmas.

6) Why is my amaryllis all leaves and no flowers?

Trying to get an amaryllis bulb to re-bloom without allowing it to receive and store up nutrients, or enter a dormancy period, may result in all leaves and no flowers. Read the above paragraph or Florissa’s article on Amaryllis After Care.

7) When should I re-pot my amaryllis?

The best timing to re-pot an amaryllis bulb is after dormancy, before bringing it back indoors to room temperature. Use fresh potting soil mix to enhance active growth. Amaryllis bulbs like to be snug in their pots and need larger pots once every 3-4 years. Once planted again in fresh soil, bring the pot indoors and place it in a bright and warm indoor location to start the blooming cycle again.

8) How long does it take for an amaryllis bulb to get to blooming size?

Amaryllis bulbs can be propagated from the small bulblets growing at the base of the larger bulb. These can be separated at the time of re-potting and transplanted to other pots. After 4-5 years of patient nurturing, the bulbs will be big enough to produce a stem of blooms. When you buy an amaryllis bulb in the store it’s at least 5-6 years old.

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