Amaryllis flowers (Hippeastrum spp.) are beloved for their big, bold shows of color indoors in midwinter when not much else may be blooming. Commonly grown as houseplants, they are also hardy outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10.
When their blooms have died, well-tended bulbs can produce more flowers for many years. Continue reading to learn all about amaryllis bulb storage and general care.
Amaryllis Bulb Storage Instructions
Amaryllis bulbs have particular needs while they rest and recover. Depending on the schedule you've trained them on, flowers will usually die by late winter. Follow these five simple steps for successful amaryllis bulb storage:
Trim the Stalks
With a clean knife or sharpened gardening shears, trim the stalks until they're 1 1/2 inch to 1 inch above the bulb. Wait before cutting the leaves, giving the bulb time to photosynthesize (a sunny spot is best).
Keep the Soil Moist
Water the soil whenever it becomes nearly dry or whenever the soil dries out in the top 2 inches. If evening temperatures stay above 50 F and your plant is in a pot with good drainage, you can move it outdoors.
(Note: if you don't have drainage holes, you cannot put your plant outside unless it's sheltered from the weather. Rain can accumulate and clog the holes, rotting the bulb along the way.)
Feed It Fertilizer
Feed it a balanced houseplant fertilizer weekly so that next year's buds can form within the bulb.
Trim the Wilted Leaves
As the leaves wilt and perish, trim them back to 1 to 2 inches above the bulb. If it is in the ground, use a small trowel to dig the bulb up. If it's potted, keep it that way. Either way, bring your amaryllis bulb inside.
Store in a Cool, Dry, Dark Place
Store your bulb in a cool, dry, dark place like an unheated but attached garage, your basement, or the crisper of a refrigerator where the temperature ranges between 50 and 55 Fahrenheit for eight to 12 weeks. Do not store amaryllis bulbs in a fridge that has apples inside because this will sterilize the bulbs. Also, do not water the bulbs or feed them fertilizer during this time.
When to Plant Amaryllis Bulbs and Induce Flowering
After at least eight weeks of storage, bring your amaryllis bulbs back out. If growing them outdoors, transplant them to your garden about eight weeks before you want to see them bloom, likely for the summer. Late May is a good time.
To harden off a growing plant, put it in a shady area. After a couple of days, transition the amaryllis to longer periods of direct sun. Within seven to 10 days, it should be fully hardened off (this is a good rule of thumb for hardening off other plants and seedings too).
Choose a location that receives partial to full sun. Dig a hole and set the pot in the ground. Continue to water if the weather or soil gets dry, and feed it a balanced 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer once or twice a month until the end of July. Bring the plant indoors in mid-September.
To induce the nearest state of dormancy possible, place the plant in a cool, somewhat dark location in late September. Do not water. As the leaves turn brown, follow the five steps above. After 8 to 10 weeks of storage, place it in a well-lit location where the temperature stays between 70 to 75 F. Maintain moisture in the potting soil. Avoid letting the soil stay wet. (If the bulb rots, throw it away and tend to a healthier one.)
Another option is to place the plant in a bright location in autumn, at a steady temperature between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This may allow the amaryllis to live as a green plant from fall to mid-winter. After the requirement of 8 to 10 weeks in a cool environment has been met, move the plant to the warmer (70 to 75 F) location.
Yet another option is to induce flowering in time for Christmas. This is a possibility if you bring the plant into a warm, sunny location and start watering again in early to mid-November. Consider repotting or perhaps just scrape off the top two inches of loose soil and replace it with fresh soil.
Repotting Amaryllis Bulbs
Typically, it is not necessary to transplant amaryllis into a larger flowerpot for the first two to four years. In the future, when selecting a larger container, find one that is sturdy enough to handle the heavy blossoms which may otherwise topple a pot that is too small and weak. Repot in a loose, well-draining mix that is especially beneficial to bulbs or houseplants. Plant one bulb in a 6-to-8 inch-wide pot, or three bulbs in a 10 to 12-inch-wide pot.