Amaryllis

Amaryllis flower

No, this lovely amaryllis is not blooming in my house at the moment. At the moment, all I have are some slumbering pots from last year’s bulbs and some new bulbs waiting to be potted up.

I do not often pot up amaryllis before New Year’s. Part of that has to do with the timing. It’s difficult to get the lovely bulbs to bloom “right on schedule.” It’s that old “plants can’t read” thing again. And even though I usually have the bulbs in hand in plenty of time to give them the theoretical 6-8 weeks that they need to bloom for Christmas, there are those variables like temperature and the  like and who knows what else?

The way I got this bulb to bloom “on time” last year was by keeping its pot in a room with our furnace until the stalks with the bulb were almost ready to open. That’s just silly. Why do that?

And if the bulbs are “late” and bloom too much after Christmas, the only one enjoying them will be our dog sitter. And while I am always grateful for his services, I don’t really want to miss my amaryllis blooming while I travel.

So I pot them up when I return. It gives me something to look forward to over the 3 long and dreary months of January-March.

But it’s the amaryllis after care that I get lots of questions about. So here are some answers about that!

Amaryllis usually take about 6-8 weeks to flower after potting (depending on variety). They will bloom more quickly in the spring, and, in succeeding years after forcing, they will bloom naturally in spring or summer.

Conventional wisdom for keeping amaryllis from year to year is to cut off the spent bloom(s), and put the bulb in a sunny window until it’s warm enough to summer it outside. Around Memorial Day, put it outside and feed the living heck out of it with a commercial fertilizer. Once Labor Day comes, stop the food and water and put it in a cool, dark place so it will bloom again for Christmas or the holidays.

I generally stop the food (organic of course) and water at Labor Day and bring the bulbs to my basement where I promptly forget all about them until mid-January at least. Then I begin checking on them. I find mine will bloom anywhere from late January to April the following year. That’s fine for me.  That’s a time when I’m starved for color anyway and the boldness of Amaryllis is very welcome!

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