December 30, 2009

Saving Your Amaryllis Bulbs

For years I would buy Amaryllis bulbs at Christmas and try to get them to re-bloom the following Christmas - I would follow the instructions on the box about putting them outdoors, bring them inside in the fall and withhold water yatta, yatta, yatta. I would usually end up tossing the dried up, non-blooming bulb in the trash in January.

A few years ago my mom told me about her friends' Amaryllis that bloomed every spring. I tried her method and now I have bunches of bulbs and flowers as early as April.

Here's what I do. I buy the bulbs in bud at Christmas, enjoy the flowers and then place the plant in a lighted window or under lights in my basement. In the spring I put them outside (still in their pots) and fertilize with a timed release fertilizer and let them stay until fall. Generally the new bulbs won't bloom that first summer. I over winter them in the basement again and do NOT water them at all. Even without water, they often do not lose all their leaves. These are hardy plants! When the weather warms up and I feel like we won't have any more frost, I bring them outside and give them a drink and a dose of fertilizer. Often they will have made new baby bulbs over the winter and usually there are buds starting to peek out too. They bloom for several weeks when not much else is flowering. I have several pots of bulbs now from the first Amaryllis that I started with. The one in the picture is a pot of baby bulbs from that original plant.

I pretty much allow nature to care for them during the summer and only water if we have a long period without rain. I tuck their pots in the garden and enjoy their foliage until late fall when I repeat the process all over again.

Last summer I planted a couple of large bulbs close to my foundation outside and I can't wait to see if they will survive the winter. They are protected fairly well and I mulched them heavily with leaves. I'll report on that experiment later.


  1. Interesting! We can leave them in the ground here. I only have two, but they were both Wal-Mart holiday purchases a few years ago which I forced, then plopped in the ground. Easy!!
    I bet your outdoor bulbs planted close to the foundation will do great. Let us know!

  2. OK here is my two cents worth on this sibject. For years I kept my bulbs protected in the winter, would get disgusted and give them away. Then one day a friend told me to just plant them and cover with a mulch after first killing frost. I cover with pine needles. Mine have been blooming for several years. I think I live a little further north than you, I live 65 miles north of Memphis.

  3. If they survive this week, I think they will survive anything. It was 15 on my deck this morning and snow on the ground. I am actually further north than you - about 130 miles north of Memphis. White House is 20 minutes north of Nashville. My elevation is higher than Nashville so it's usually colder here than downtown city temps. I hope they survive 'cause if they do, I'll never winter over another one!