Getting an amaryllis to bloom once is a snap, but to rebloom? Photo: www.winwardhome.com
Question: I have two amaryllis bulbs that flowered 2 years ago. I tried to get them to bloom again, but no success. I followed the usual tips—cut the leaves when they turn yellow and leave them in the shade in a cool place (I put them in the fridge)—and it didn’t work. What do I need to do?
Answer: The secret of reblooming an amaryllis (Hippeastrum) doesn’t lie as much in the treatment you give them when it is dormant (in fact, some varieties don’t even go dormant!), but in how you handle them during their growing season.
You have to give an amaryllis a maximum of sun and fertilizer from February to September, because the amaryllis has to “recharge their batteries” to bloom again.
If the leaves of your amaryllis are long, narrow, medium green and droopy, that’s a bad sign. It means it’s not getting enough light and may well never rebloom. The leaves should be broad, very dark green, fairly short and upright or slightly spreading. That will show you the plant is getting the light it needs.
Sadly, some “experts” (who have undoubtedly never grown an amaryllis bulb in their lives!) recommend placing amaryllis bulbs in the fridge in September. True enough, a lot of amaryllis do go dormant at that season and their foliage turns yellow, then dies (yes, you can then cut it off), but that’s no reason to mistreat them.
It’s important to understand that the amaryllis is a largely plant of tropical to subtropical conditions. Cool weather is acceptable, but out and out cold is not good for it.
A stay in the fridge, where the temperature is usually between 33 and 40 °F (1 and 4 °C), is of no use to an amaryllis and can be detrimental to its health. Yes, you can move your amaryllis to a dark spot if it loses its leaves in the fall (although that isn’t really necessary either), but it certainly doesn’t need cold temperatures. Normal room temperatures, down to a minimum of 10 ° C, are quite adequate.
Putting potted bulbs in the refrigerator is a technique used in “forcing” bulbs from temperate climates, such as narcissus, hyacinths, crocus and tulips, that is, bulbs that really do need a cold winter, to bloom indoors. There is no need to mistreat tropical bulbs that way!