As a 10-year-old looks forward to Christmas, horticulture lovers know that winter means amaryllis plants will soon be in bloom!
Just in time for the holidays, we get to enjoy explosions of beautiful bell-shaped flowers in vibrant reds, pinks, oranges, and whites, all in the dead of winter.
After the floral show, amaryllis plants need to lay dormant for several weeks. What you do next impacts your plant’s health and future bloom cycles.
Properly cared for, amaryllis plants will bloom again and again for decades, up to 75 years. But first, they will need to rest.
The question becomes, “How do you store amaryllis bulbs after they bloom?”
Let us first take a quick look at the blooming schedule of different varieties of amaryllis.
Just In Time For Christmas
Amaryllis plants are some of the most prized and sought-after flowering plants for the home gardener.
The name originates from the Greek word “amaryssa,” which means “to sparkle,” a fitting moniker. Few things in life are breathtakingly gorgeous as a “Christmas-blooming” amaryllis.
“Early” amaryllis varieties that bloom from the holidays through January typically grow in the southern hemisphere. Some of them include:
- Magic Green
- Ice Queen
- Cherry Nymph
Other varieties start blooming in mid- or late-winter and continue flowering until March. These later-blooming amaryllis varieties typically come from Holland.
- White Nymph
- Red Pearl
- Red Lion
- Double King
- Christmas Gift
- Apple Blossom
No matter which varieties you have, the process for storing your amaryllis bulbs after they bloom remains virtually the same.
Step 1: Cut The Flower Stalks
One secret used by successful amaryllis owners is to stop watering the plant when the flowers start to yellow and wilt. Cut off ALL water, and even move amaryllis plants outside in pots to a sheltered area away from rainwater.
After your amaryllis flowers have faded and withered, use sterilized scissors or a sharp knife to cut off the flower stalk. Leave 1″ to 2″ inches still attached to the bulb.
This step prevents the formation of any new seeds that would deplete the bulb’s energy reserves and cause a reduction in future blooming.
Take care to ONLY remove dry, yellow, or brown stems. Green stems are still promoting photosynthesis, thereby providing vital nutrition to the bulb.
Step 2: Prepare The Bulbs
Dig up any amaryllis bulbs planted outside and bring them inside. Be gentle and try not to damage the roots.
If they are in pots, there is no need to dig them up; just bring them inside, pots and all.
If you had to dig any plants up, you have two choices about what to do next.
On the one hand, you can re-pot the amaryllis bulb. Use these simple steps:
- Use a 1-gallon clay or terra-cotta pot with drainage holes at the bottom. Avoid lighter pots, as amaryllis plants often become quite top-heavy.
- This should leave you roughly 2″ to 3″ inches from the bulb to the inside perimeter of the pot.
- Add two tablespoons of fertilizer to the fresh potting soil. Do not use a fertilizer with high nitrogen content. Instead, look for fertilizers with plenty of potassium and phosphorus.
- Do not wholly bury the entire bulb. Leave the top third of the bulb exposed above the surface of the potting soil.
- Gently pat the soil with your hands to firm it.
Another method favored by some owners is to not immediately re-pot their amaryllis bulb. Instead, they wrap the bulbs in a dry newspaper or a brown paper shopping bag.
Step 3: Store The Dormant Bulb
The next step is to move the bulbs to a cool, dry area of your home for the rest of their dormancy period. Leave them there for at least 8 to 10 weeks.
IMPORTANT: Make sure the place where you store them maintains a temperature above 40° degrees Fahrenheit.
Amaryllis bulbs are hardy, so you will not need to water them or change the soil during dormancy.
If you would like to delay their next blooming period, you may store your amaryllis bulbs for a few more weeks.
At the end of the dormancy period, change the potting soil, add fresh fertilizer, and move the potted bulbs to a sunny location or window. Or if weather permits, re-plant them outside. Just be sure that the last damger of frost has passed and that the bulbs are not exposed to too much rain.
Learn Tips On How To Care For Amaryllis Outdoors
That’s it! Your amaryllis bulbs are now ready for their next growth cycle.
If you stick to this simple process for storing amaryllis bulbs and care for the plants during the rest of the year, you can expect a lifetime of exotic beauty.