I’ve really enjoyed Brad this Winter. That’s my Amaryllis, I named him Brad as the world and I were much in need of a Brad in their lives during Lockdown. He’s highly floriferous and is known for his very long stem and an oversized bloom! I’ve loved him so much I want to learn how to make Amaryllis bulbs flower again.
Did you grow Amaryllis bulbs this Winter? Brad is still flowering, bless him, but as soon as he is spent I want to save him this year. Usually, my Amaryllis bulbs tend to get discarded and forgotten about in the garden somewhere as I’ve always thought it was so hard to save them until next Christmas. I’ve tried a few times, but never actually succeeded before, but I really want to be able to do it as it seems such a waste! After doing much research for you on how to make Amaryllis bulbs flower again, I’ve decided in principle, at least, that it’s not that hard. Are you up for the challenge?
Did you know that your Amaryllis is not, in fact, an Amaryllis? Well blow me down with a feather! Nope, it’s a Hippeastrum, who knew?
It’s caused no end of debate for centuries amongst the botanical elite. The argument goes all the way back to the 18th century and is still regarded as a grey area by many, although not The RHS. A decision was finally made back in 1987 by a worldwide panel of botanists, but still Amaryllis is the most commonly seen name to describe our fabulous Yuletide friends.
The festive blowsy Winter flower we all tend to get as Christmas gifts is indeed a true Hippeastrum – pronounced “Hippy Astrum” (no relation to the long haired, peace-loving, pot-smoking 70’s variety). A bone fide Amaryllis is a bulb from South Africa which only has one species in its genus (Amaryllis belladonna).Whereas Hippeastrums are from Central and South America with 90 species and over 600 cultivars.
How to make Amaryllis bulbs flower again (Hippeastrum)
Late Winter/early Spring
- After your bulbs have finished flowering, cut down the flower stems to the base, but keep the leaves! Carefully water and feed the leaves weekly. You can use a foliar feed such as Shogun Geisha Foliar (you spray it directly onto the leaf surface). Your goal now is to get your bulb to grow new scrappy green leaves, the more the better. There is a theory that the more leaves it has the more flowers will come in the Winter. You also want your bulb to have become fat and juicy with at least few new onion layers.
- Place the bulbs on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse, if you have one. You can put them outside, but be careful of slugs and snails as it’s the leaves that are important now and you don’t want them ravaged overnight! Also, be careful of scorching sun, so a shady spot is best if they are outside and remember to water and feed regularly.
- The reason my previous attempts at saving these bulbs has gone so very wrong is because I have effectively forgotten about them all year, leaving them to their own devices, only watering and feeding when I remembered to do so.
- This is the clever bit: once Summer is over and you have a nice fat healthy bulb with lots of green leaves, you need to convince it that it’s time to flower again. For that you are going to have to treat it mean!
- As soon as Autumn comes you must stop watering them until the leaves shrivel up and go yellow. I know this sounds ridiculous as you’ve just spent all Spring and Summer doing the opposite, but trust me. Leave it to completely dry out until the beginning of November. Place it somewhere that is well lit, but cool (around 13°C or 55°F).
- After the cool dormant period, in November cut the remaining old leaves to 10cm (4in) from the neck of the bulb and replace the top half of the compost.
- Bring your bulb somewhere warmer, like a sunny windowsill and start to water it again. By Christmas you should have a gorgeous display of big fat blooms!
- You can, however, keep them dormant for longer. They can be planted indoors from late October through to January. You may like to wait and have your blooms in the New Year, when all the decorations have been put away.
I’m not sure, which of these methods works best. It’s going to be an experiment. Perhaps, if lots of us do it, some can put their bulbs in a cool dark space and some can keep on a light windowsill.
- In late September, withhold watering and let the plants gradually dry out. They may die back as a result. Cut to the base any spent flower stems and yellow leaves.
- Keeping them in their pots, place the plants in a cool place, such as a greenhouse or garage (light is not necessary), for one to two months.
- Start them back into growth by bringing them indoors into the light and resuming watering and feeding.
How to plant Amaryllis bulbs (Hippeastrum)
- Plant bulbs using multipurpose compost into pots a little larger than the bulb itself. Two-thirds of the bulb should remain above the surface of the soil.
- Place in a well-lit spot at 21°C (70°F).
- Water sparingly until the new leaves develop and then start watering regularly. Do not let the compost dry out, but avoid excess water.
- Turn the pot regularly to prevent the flower stalk growing towards the light. You want to end up with an upright stem. I usually use twigs with lichen on as stakes to support the heavy blooms.
- To extend the flowering period, move the plant to a cooler place.
- Re-pot every two or three years in January to March after flowering.
So, there you have it! Now you know how to make Amaryllis bulbs flower again. We can do this! I’m looking forward to the process and seeing all your bulbs flowering next Winter. Good Luck!
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