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Preparing My Amaryllis For Blooming

I'm in the process of bringing in a lot of my houseplants and succulents for the winter. If you read this blog last winter you may remember my experiments with pollinating my Amaryllis and the subsequent Amaryllis seed pods and know that I have one or two of these flowering indoor bulbs around. At the beginning of October I moved my potted Amaryllids onto the porch so they wouldn't get sun or water and make them lose their leaves.

It is generally advised that if you already own an Amaryllis and you want to get it to bloom for Thanksgiving or Christmas that you cut back on the watering and light 10-12 weeks before the time you want it to bloom. What we're doing is artificially producing a dormancy period that will result in flowers when we want them instead of when the bulb is ready to send another flower stalk out.

For recently purchased Amaryllis bulbs you're suppose to plant them, give them a good watering and place them in a warm and sunny area to bring them out of the dormancy the grower put them in.

Sometimes you'll encounter an Amaryllis bulb that just won't cooperate with you. You can plant it, water it place it in the sunniest and warmest window in your house and get nothing. That's the case with the Amaryllis bulb in the photo above that came from an Amaryllis kit I bought on clearance after Christmas. Since last December the leaves you see have probably only grown and inch and the roots haven't done much of anything. It spent the spring and summer outdoors with my other Amaryllids and got the same treatment as them but didn't grow. I talked to it, cajoled it, watered it, gave it sun, gave it shade, gave it water, fertilizer and even threatened it- but it wouldn't grow.

As far as I can see there isn't anything wrong with the bulb and it won't grow and flower because it isn't ready. Today I pushed the leaves aside and noticed that there is a new leaf trying to emerge, perhaps by time I go into a retirement home it will be ready to bloom.

Here's a video I made showing you how to pot an Amaryllis Bulb.

and one showing you how to pollinate an Amaryllis flower.


  1. I love picking up the Amaryllis kits four for a dollar close to Christmas. It's too late for Christmas flowers, but Amaryllis is Amaryllis--even in February. I guess people only want it for the holidays. Sometimes the plants are within a couple of weeks of blooming, so that's an even better bargain!

  2. My amaryllis grow in the ground now, Mr Brown Thumb, but I used to grow them in pots at other houses. At one time another gardener told me to lay the pots on their sides during the dormant period. I don't know whether there's any basis to this information but my amaryllis bloomed pretty well!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Somehow your mystery make me feel a little better. Your amaryllis bulb looks very large. You'll have to post the progress later. :-)

    I have one bulb I purchased after Christmas last winter. I kept it on my front (non-enclosed) porch this summer... mostly shade but a couple or so hours of sun in the early afternoon. Anyway, both the leaves and bulb grew well. My mom's advice was to bring it indoors in October, put it in the basement and discontinue watering it. She has several, and she checks them periodically. When they begin to grow, she brings them upstairs and begins to care for them again.

    Do you have other tips?

  4. Aiyana,

    Those after Christmas kit clearances are going to be my down fall. I'm the annoying gardener that opens all the kits to make sure to get the nicest bulb possible. I keep buying the kits for a white flowering one and end up having no luck. One of these days...


    You've got me curious and I'm going to have to go ask the Amaryllis forum and see what the basis is for that tip. The only thing I can think of is that a pot on it's side won't get accidentally watered and a dry bulb will remain dormant. I'll post if I find anything interesting.

    Shady Gardener,

    It is experiences with plants that just won't do what I want them to that made me decide to be MrBrownThumb instead of MrGreenThumb. It is very humbling when one encounters a plant that just won't do what it is "suppose" to do. I'd do what your mom does but I'm worried about bring in bugs into the house. I have to make sure that they've all been decontaminated before they can come inside. :0)

    The only tips I can think of is when you see them in the stores be patient and wait for the sale price. And buy a bigger house because once you have a few and get them to bloom and even cross them you need more window space. :0)

    Thanks for stopping by.

  5. My theory on plants that won't do as expected is that they're like cats...and as TS Eliot wrote, "they will do do as they do do and there's no doin' anything about it" (this is most impressive if you can sing the phrase, from The Rum Tum Tugger in Cats!).

    I'm glad to read that you too have threatened plants. It seems to work plus it amuses the neighbours. I get amaryllis on occasion that choose to be reluctant about blooming, sometimes months later. I can't figure out why people think these are ONLY for Christmas, either--I love them in February when the weather is enough to make me want to drown in a vat of red wine and chocolate!

  6. LOL Jodi,

    I learned to threaten plants a while back. I started doing it more regularly when I bought my first Adenium Obesum. I'd read that they were so sensitive and yadda yadda yadda. Well as a first timer with them I was fretting over each and every leaf drop.

    Finally I bought two more and set them next to the original plant and said "I don't know what your problem is but you keep dropping leaves. So go ahead and die if you want I've got two more to replace you with."

    The darn thing stopped losing leaves and has behaved itself since then.

    I know what you mean about the Amaryllis during Christmas. I think it is because of the red flowers of Red Lion that just scream Christmas. Last year I staggered them and has some blooming outdoors during the first couple weeks of spring.

  7. I'm wondering if you'll see this new comment. Anyway, I've just posted a question on my blog about my amaryllis bulb and it's recent "activity!" I need your input! ;-)

  8. Anonymous11:27 PM

    I purchased a Amaryllis bulb, planted it in a pot and forced it to bloom. It was beautuful. After it bloomed I kept it indoors in front of a South facing window as a houseplant. It grew three leaves and went dormant in the Winter. It didn't bloom the second year and sprouted leaves instead, so I put it outside and it grew several healthy looking leaves in full sun. I forced the bulb into dormancy by cutting back water in September and bringing the bulb indoors late October where I kept it in a dark bathroom that gets to about 60 in temperture. The bulb lost it's leaves and went dormant for 2 weeks. Recently it started sprouting new leaves.

    Now I'm not sure what to do...

    Can I still force dormancy? My idea was to remove it from the pot and trim dead roots, or should I let it continue to grow? Should I expect it to bloom? Outside the tempertures drop to 40-50 (Zone 9). Was it better for me to leave it outside, and is it too late to move it back out?

  9. Anon,

    If it is breaking dormancy I would just let it grow. The reason your amaryllis isn't blooming is probably because it hasn't been fertilized enough. Make sure to fertilize your amaryllis this growing cycle to ensure a bloom for the next one. If the roots look healthy I'd leave them be, maybe pot it up in a slightly larger pot.



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