The Gift of a Reblooming Amaryllis
This scenario may sound familiar. A few years ago, you picked up an Amaryllis bulb at your local garden center (or were gifted one from a friend) and it bloomed a couple of months after you planted it. The instructions were clear about how to do that: plant the bulb, water it in, give it just a little more water here and there, and with a little patience you will start to see beautiful, colorful, showy blooms. Sure enough, your plant does bloom—and it IS spectacular! But the next year, when you do the same, and again the year after that…all you get are floppy green leaves! You were given plenty of information on how to get your plant to bloom, but not enough information on how to get it to RE-bloom.
If this has happened to you, and you’re close to tossing out that Amaryllis bulb out of frustration, fear not: I want to provide you with tips and tricks to keep your Amaryllis happy (and blooming!) so that you will be able to enjoy this beautiful flowering houseplant for many years to come.
Assuming you’ve been giving your Amaryllis all of what it needs to be “happy” (well-drained soil, bright light, moderate temperatures), and that your plant has in fact bloomed, cut the stem of the flower down to approximately 1” from the top of the bulb once the flower dies. Be sure that the leaves remain and be allowed to continue growing, at least for now, which gives your bulb the nutrition it needs to flower again the following year. Keep your plant indoors until the chance of frost passes, then, if you have a space to do so, move it outdoors to a shady spot first (then in another week or so it can go to a part- to full-sun location) to happily grow through the late spring and summer months. Make sure that the soil does not stay too wet as the bulb could rot. Feed your plant a standard houseplant fertilizer (use the application rates on the bag) every other week after the leaves begin growing. These extra nutrients help to ensure a successful bloom the next time it flowers.
Amaryllis is native to Cape Province in South Africa, and as with other bulbs native to this region, they benefit from a period of dry dormancy outside of the growing season. This means that, at some point, you will need to withhold water in order to get your plant to go dormant. When temperatures cool off in the fall and you bring your plant indoors before a chance of frost (sometime in October), stop watering and allow the leaves to yellow, then die off. Your plant’s leaves may already start yellowing and dying off on their own even before you try to force it into dormancy; this is the plant’s way of letting you know that it’s ready to go dormant. After the leaves die back, it is best to move your plant to a cool, dry location for its dormancy period. Basements and garages are perfect for this because the plant no longer needs sunlight and these spaces are generally cooler—temperatures of around 55 degrees are ideal. You can leave the plant in its pot or take the bulb out of the soil and place it into a paper bag.
Allow your plant to remain in this location for several months before you revive it (set yourself a reminder to do so on your calendar). Repot it if necessary, bring it back into its “happy place,” and water it in. Once it dries out, water sparingly; again, you don’t want the bulb to rot. It will take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks for blooms to appear again—this isn’t a plant for the impatient grower!
The flower bud will emerge first, followed by the leaves. You can help the flowers last longer by placing the plant in a cooler location, still providing it with bright light. You may need to rotate the pot frequently to keep the blooms upright as they will want to angle themselves toward the sunlight. And now you can sit back and take pride in all that you’ve accomplished!
Quick troubleshooting tips on why your Amaryllis plant is growing green leaves but isn’t blooming
- It wasn’t given enough time to stay in dormancy (6-12 weeks)
- It wasn’t allowed to store up enough nutrients (i.e. the leaves were not given enough time to grow before the plant was forced into dormancy)
- Too little fertilizer was applied during the growing period
- It wasn’t kept in a cool enough location during its dormancy (temperatures of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit are best)