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AMARYLLIS BLOOMS CHRISTMAS TO EASTER
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Now that your Amaryllis has finished blooming for the year, it is time to start planning for the seasons to come. Each year, the bulb will get bigger, and have the potential to pump out even more blooms. But there is also a way to control a succession of Amaryllis blooms that could last from Christmas to Easter. Let’s get started!
It is best to read the following RELATED ARTICLE first: HOW TO GROW CHRISTMAS AMARYLLIS
MOVING YOUR AMARYLLIS OUTDOORS FOR THE SUMMER
You now have the choice of letting your Amaryllis spend the Summer indoors by a window, or outdoors.
Keeping your plant outdoors invites special problems. Deer do not like to eat Amaryllis due to its bitter taste. Now, this doesn’t mean they won’t try to taste it. And just one big bite, and you might as well discard the bulb.
Skunks and opossums also like to investigate. They are truly amazing diggers, and will often dig a bulb right out of the ground, before walking away and leaving it. These creatures dug up three of my blackberry bushes, so I know how persistent they can be.
If you live in the country or near the edge of town, you might want to consider letting your plant spend the Summer in the house or on a screened-in porch.
Amaryllis can be moved outdoors once temperatures stay above 50 degrees at night. This often occurs in late May or early June. This will vary depending on how soon Summer arrives in your area.
Harden or acclimatize the plant to the outdoors by initially placing it in a shady, protected area. After 2 or 3 days, gradually expose the Amaryllis to longer periods of direct sun. Once hardened, select a site that supplies enough light. About 6 hours per day of morning sun is preferable. Avoid hot, afternoon sun.
Some people place their plant on a patio or deck. Others just dig a hole and sink the entire pot into the soil so it won’t blow over in the wind.
- When planted outdoors, continue to fertilize twice a month through the end of August.
- Also, continue to water the Amaryllis regularly all Summer, especially during dry weather.
- The plant will spend about 5 to 6 months outdoors allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow.
- The leaves normally begin to yellow in the early fall. Do not cut the leaves back yet. (Some people swear that laying the pot on its side helps the foliage dry up faster.)
- Bring the plant indoors in mid-September.
HOW TO REBLOOM AMARYLLIS BULBS
To get another year of blooms out of your Amaryllis there are steps to follow.
There must be a period of defoliation (when the leaves die) before your plant will once again burst into bloom. Failing in this step means that your plant will seldom produce more than just leaves and, sooner or later, your bulb will end up in the garbage.
Plants that are kept outdoors should be brought indoors in mid-September. Keep them at normal room temperature and light till late-September. Although each variety of bulb might be a little different, this usually will get them ready to bloom at Christmastime.
- Chilling Requirements: To induce dormancy, place the plant in a cool, semi-dark location in late September and withhold water and food.
- Wait to cut off the foliage until the leaves dry up and turn brown. Do not pull them off. Cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb. This is the necessary period of defoliation.
- Store the bulb in the pot or remove the bulb from the soil. Carefully clean and dry the bulb. Be careful about the delicate roots.
- Then place the dormant bulb in a dark, dry, 50 to 55 degree location for at least 6 to 10 weeks, although 8 to 10 weeks is better. (Longer is fine!) Put a thermometer near them to make sure they don’t freeze. Some people suggest it is better to lay the potted or bareroot bulb on its side at this time.
The bulbs could be kept in a root cellar, cool basement, or in the vegetable drawer (crisper) of a refrigerator.
- Do not store Amaryllis bulbs in a refrigerator that contains fruit, especially apples, or they will never bloom again!
- If you store the bulbs in a root cellar or basement, make sure to protect them from rats and mice. They are really amazing jumpers, especially when they’re hungry! It helps to keep the bulbs in a container that rodents can’t chew through.
THE CHILLING PROCESS “CONTROLS” WHEN YOUR PLANT BLOOMS
You force Amaryllis into dormancy (stop their growth for a period of time) to control the time when they bloom. During this rest period, they use very little of their energy reserves.
The flowering time of Amaryllis is controlled primarily by moisture, although defoliation and the chilling process are also important factors.
If your Amaryllis won’t go dormant, don’t stress over it, just:
- Remove the remaining leaves, and re-pot the bulb.
- Keep on the lookout for spider mites and mealy bugs.
The top reasons that Amaryllis don’t bloom are:
- No rest period (Dormancy Period)
- Insufficient light while actively growing
- Poor nutrients in the soil or insufficient amounts of houseplant food
NOTE: Some Amaryllis bulbs stubbornly refuse to rebloom. They can often be “shocked” into blooming again by use of the Chilling Process.
RE-POTTING AMARYLLIS BULBS
Amaryllis bulbs can live in the same flower pot for several years. However, if you see that they are getting “pinched,” then it is time to find another home for your plant. Although they may require a larger pot due to increase in bulb size, just make sure it’s a cozy fit. The best time to repot them is right after they have gone through a dormant period (Chilling Process).
- Loosen the roots with a knife all around the edge of the pot. Carefully crumble the dirt off of the bulb.
- Clean the bulb with water, and blot dry with a paper towel.
- Be very careful of the delicate roots. Remove any dead leaves and peel off and discard the loosened bulb sheaths.
- Use potting soil that drains well. Every few years their soil will be depleted of nutrients. Replace the soil periodically, or feed with liquid fertilizer.
Some people just replace the top inch or so of soil each year, especially if they aren’t used to transplanting flowers. But if the bulb has outgrown the pot, just remember to be careful of the roots. If you accidentally tear them off, the bulb will be useless.
- A clay pot might be better than a plastic one, since they are heavier. Amaryllis tend to topple over.
- When deciding on pot size, remind yourself that they like “tight shoes.” Let them get crowded. Remember that you must not cover the top 1/3 of the bulb.
- If planting individually, a 6 to 7 inch pot usually works. If planting in a group of 3 bulbs, you’ll probably need a 10 to 12 inch pot.
NOTE: Just like Tulips and Daffodils, the Amaryllis bulb will produce “daughter bulbs.” These side bulbs are commonly called “bulblets.”
Use a very sharp knife to remove them from the mother bulb right before repotting. This should be done while the “daughter bulbs” are dormant.
They can be potted up individually in fresh soil and in a few years you’ll have more blooming plants. Keep them on the same care schedule as the mother bulb.
WARM THEM UP!
- After the cool requirement has been met, start the growth cycle again by watering the bulb (sparingly). If you water too much before the foliage appears, your bulb will rot.
- Placing the plant in a well-lighted, 70 to 75 degree location will cause the bulb to sprout and grow faster. Keep it away from drafts.
- Move the plant to a windowsill with bright indirect sunlight to let it adjust to increased sunlight. Pick a spot that receives lots of sunlight, but not by direct exposure.
- Moving the plant into a warmer location will encourage growth, though too much warmth may cause weak or floppy stem growth. The flip side is that cooler temperatures may prevent or slow growth.
- When an Amaryllis does not want to break dormancy, providing bottom heat by setting the pot on a propagation mat or on the top of a refrigerator may help stimulate growth.
- Once you see foliage, and hopefully a fat flower bud, you should keep the potting soil moist, but not wet. Always water Amaryllis with lukewarm water – – – not with water out of the refrigerator!
HOW TO EXTEND THE FLOWERING PERIOD
If you have several Amaryllis, you can stagger their bloom times. Their display can be timed around specific holidays and events. And having a bright red Amaryllis blooming for Valentine’s Day can be a great deal of fun!
This is similar to “succession planting” in your vegetable garden that will extend your harvest. Your Amaryllis can produce loads of blooms throughout most of the winter.
Set up your planting schedule between October and February with this in mind. To achieve continuous bloom, remove another plant out of “dormancy” (out of the basement or refrigerator) at intervals of 2 weeks for stunning color in your home.
To induce flowering in time for Christmas, bring plant into a warm, sunny location and resume watering around November 1st. Wait two weeks before taking another bulb out of cold storage. Succession blooming can result in flowers right up through Easter.
With careful planning, you can extend the flowering period from late December until the end of April, and possibly beyond that. Bloom size is generally bigger in the winter than it is as warm weather approaches.
Some bulbs are more predictable in their bloom habits. Others cannot be depended upon to bloom when you think they will. Having a growth “schedule” might be just plain impossible for certain varieties. It is good to have more than one Amaryllis ready to bloom at a time to avoid disappointment. Bloom times, at best, can only be estimates.
HAPPY PLANTING! Susan