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Re-Blooming your Amaryllis

The amaryllis is a very popular gift for the holidays, and with good reason. The elegant flowers can last for several weeks. But when they’re done blooming, then what?  Hopefully you’ve been enjoying your amaryllis by placing it in a cool bright location. Amaryllis don’t need much water, but they don’t want to dry out too much either. If you’re lucky, you may have gotten two or even three stalks with flowers!

Did you know that you can keep that bulb and re-bloom it next fall?  Now that the flowers have all gone, the bulb is in its growth phase.  When the flowers go by, it’s time to cut the stalks down to near the top of the bulb, being careful not to damage leaves or other flower stalks. There may be a lot of sap running out of the stalk – that is OK. At this point, increase light, water and fertilizer to help produce leaves that will in turn help boost next year’s flowers.  Move your bulb to a south-facing window and begin fertilizing. Use a standard houseplant fertilizer once a month and don’t let the soil dry out completely. Your bulb will grow lots of foliage and begin making and storing energy for later.

As soon as the weather begins to warm up and all threat of frost is gone (sometime in May) move your amaryllis outdoors. Many of the leaves may die and fall off at this time – that is normal when any plant is moved to a dramatically different setting. New leaves will grow in time. The best area outside is sunny and protected. Watch carefully for watering and begin to fertilize every two weeks (or use a time-release fertilizer.)

Your amaryllis bulb needs a dormant period to be prepared to bloom again.  Stop fertilizing at the end of August and leave your pots outdoors until the foliage naturally begins to yellow, but no later than the end of October. At that point, cut off all the foliage and gently remove all the soil from the bulb and put the bulb in a very cool place. After several weeks, you should notice the tip of a new flower stalk poking out of the bulb. In Nevember,  repot the bulb into fresh soil being careful not to bury it too deeply. Keep at least 1/3 of the bulb above the soil line.  Water your amaryllis thoroughly, and then allow the surface to dry before watering it again.  Put it in a warm, sunny spot and enjoy watching the stalk lengthen and begin to bloom again. Once the first flower has opened, move the plant to a cooler location with diffuse light.  This will help the flowers last longer.

The cycle is complete!  Enjoy your amaryllis for the holidays, and you can do it all again.  Given the right conditions, your bulb can last for years.