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 faded, well-tended bulbs may produce more flowers for years to come. 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 fade by late winter. Follow these five simple steps for successful amaryllis bulb storage:
Cut back the stalks to between a half inch and one inch above the bulb using a sharp knife or sharp pruning shears. Do not cut the leaves yet, and take care not to damage the foliage. Give the bulb time to photosynthesize and gather energy from its leaves (preferably in a sunny spot).
Water the soil whenever it becomes nearly dry or whenever the soil dries out in the top two inches. If night temperatures stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and it's in a pot with good drainage, move the plant outside.
Do not place it outdoors if the pot has no drainage holes because the rain could build up and rot the bulb. Similarly, if the pot rests on a saucer, be sure to remove any sitting water that gathers under the pot.
Feed it a balanced houseplant fertilizer weekly so that next year's buds can form within the bulb.
As the leaves die, cut the plant back one to two inches above the bulb. If it is in the ground, dig the bulb up. If it is in a pot, keep the bulb in the soil.
Store in a cool, dry, dark place such as a basement or the crisper of a refrigerator where the temperature ranges between 50 and 55 degrees 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.
Amaryllis do not undergo true dormancy. To encourage their continued growth and replenishing of nutrients from new foliage, store them in soil (rather than a bag or a box, like many other bulbs need).
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 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 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.
Keep amaryllis plants in a pot indoors if there's any danger of frost. The pot should be not much bigger than the bulb itself. Let the bulb's shoulders rest just above the soil.
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 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). 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 sunny location in autumn, in 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 six to eight-inch-wide pot, or three bulbs in a 10 to 12-inch-wide pot.