Amaryllis bulbs are known for their simple beauty and for the joy of the big reveal…
We bring the humble bulbs into our homes and a few days later we get to behold the splendor of their big blooms. And it’s all SO SIMPLE!
But what do we do when the flowers fade?
Typically, Amaryllis give us a flashy show–one that is so welcome in the depths of winter–and then they fade away and we toss what’s left into the compost bin. But, several years ago I realized how easy it is to save Amaryllis bulbs and I have been enjoying their beautiful blooms from Christmas through Easter every year since!
After you have finished relishing in the amazing beauty of the flowers, simply cut the flowers off at the base of the flower bud. It may sound odd, but you want to save the flower stalk until it turns yellow and gets really weak. The reason for this has to do with photosynthesis (the process plants use to synthesize food from sunlight and carbon dioxide). Keeping the tall green stalk promotes photosynthesis, which feeds the bulb…this lets the bulb store up energy for the future! Placing this newly clipped bulb, with it’s soon-to-fade stalk, in the sunniest possible location indoors will also help promote photosynthesis…then just water and fertilize with a general houseplant fertilizer like, Jack’s Classic All Purpose Plant Food
After all danger of frost has passed, your potted Amaryllis would love to spend some time outdoors. This is going to help build your bulb into a heartier plant, that is full of nutrients, and that is a plant that will really bloom!
Start acclimating your plant to the outdoors, by placing it in a shady area for a week, then move your Amaryllis to a sunnier location with indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours per day. I like to put mine in a somewhat wind-protected area on the East side of my house, within my garden. Remember, continue fertilizing monthly!
When the summer has waned and Autumn has set in, bring your Amaryllis back into the house before the first chance of frost. These bulbs will not tolerate frost or freezing temperatures! Store your bulb in a cool, dry and dark location, like a basement or closet that has a temperature of 50-60 degrees. If you need to repot, this is a good time. Sometimes, the bulbs become too large for their pots, or they send out babies, which of course deserve a pot of their own! At this point, you DO NOT want to water, but allow the foliage to dry completely and remove it as it dries and shrivels. Leave the potted bulb in this dark location for 8-12 weeks and again, DO NOT WATER. You can bring your containers back out into medium light as you see new growth peeking out and now you can begin to water! After a few days, place your potted bulb into a full sun window and enjoy watching the stalk grow up and up until their beautiful bell-shaped blossoms emerge!
From complete dormancy to re-bloom, it will probably take 4-6 weeks. In that time, water thoroughly, but do not keep them saturated! I water about once a week, and I make sure they are not sitting in water or they will begin to rot.
I love to share the enjoyment of watching them emerge with my grandchildren, who are amazed by their size and color, and my collection continues togrow as I have collected so many that have been discarded over the years! So don’t toss those spent bulbs! Tend to them and they will continue to rebloom for seasons to come!