How To Save Your Amaryllis Bulbs For More Gorgeous Blooms Next Season

How To Save Your Amaryllis Bulbs For More Gorgeous Blooms Next Season

Amaryllis flowers are a popular choice for both novice and experienced gardeners. They are often given as gifts as they make great houseplants. These flowers are particularly popular during the holiday season because of their cheerful red blooms, which add a touch of joy to any living or dining room. But what happens once the flowers have faded and the leaves start to wilt? Some people think it’s time to throw them away, but did you know that you can save the bulb and have it grow again next season? In fact, one bulb can continue to flower for years, making it worth saving.

To save the amaryllis flower bulb, you need to help it go dormant. This way, you can control the plant’s bloom time. Instead of letting it waste energy on growing leaves all winter, you can make the bulb go into a type of slumber, which will store its energy to produce petals later. Once it starts sprouting again in early spring, you can either keep it as a houseplant or plant it outside in your garden. Either way, you will be able to enjoy those beautiful red blooms once more. Here’s how to save your bulbs so they grow big and colorful come spring.

How to save your amaryllis bulbs

amaryllis bulbs

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In order for your bulb to release showstopping blooms, it needs to store enough energy to create the flowers. That means you have to help it go dormant. To do so, wait until the stalk has turned yellow and then cut it down to a 1/2-inch nub. This will stop the plant from sending energy and resources to the stalk, storing it instead. However, leave the plant’s leaves intact. You can trim them back only when they have browned and shriveled on their own. To help the bulb go dormant, put the potted plant in a cool, dark room such as a your basement or garage. You want the temp to hover around 55 degrees, so make sure it’s sufficiently crisp in the room. Leave it there between two to three months, and act as if you have completely forgotten about it. That means you stop watering it and ensure it gets no sunlight. Your mantra is going to be “out of sight, out of mind.”

Once the dormant period is up, remove the plant from its dark location and put it next to a sunny window. Water it thoroughly and give it a boost in nutrients with a plant fertilizer, such as Miracle-Gro’s Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, which you can get for $10 at Home Depot. Small stalks should begin to sprout from the bulb, and you should see healthy blooms within a month.

Caveats to keep in mind

amaryllis plant

New Africa/Shutterstock

While this process is extremely easy since you set the pot in a dark room and forget about it for a few months, there is some light maintenance you need to do to ensure the bulb stays healthy. Mainly, you should check the bulb periodically for any mold. If you spot some, it might mean that the bulb is decaying. If it has soft spots, it might be on its way out, but if it’s still firm to the touch, simply treat it with fungicide. A good one to try is Daconil, which you can get for $21 at Home Depot.

Secondly, if you check on your bulb while it’s meant to be dormant and you notice it growing shoots, immediately remove it from the dark room, place it in front of a window, and water it. Seeing growth means that the plant hasn’t gone dormant yet and is still producing energy, so you want to allow it to go through its natural cycle before trying to make it go to sleep again.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.