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How to Get an Amaryllis to Rebloom

Getting an amaryllis to bloom once is a snap, but to rebloom? Photo: http://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?

Claire Turcotte

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.

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This amaryllis is starting to stretch: you need to give it more sun! Photo: ask-extension-org

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!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

5 comments on “How to Get an Amaryllis to Rebloom

  1. I guess I’m a really laidback gardener (or maybe just a lazy one), but I treat orchids, amaryllis, poinsettias, etc, as cut flowers. Let ‘em bloom and let ‘me go. Otherwise, I have these sad looking plants taking up space. If they don’t bloom again I feel guilty! and we all know guilt isn’t productive.

    • I see no problem with that attitude. I have a harder time letting go than you do, but… I’m not much for recuperating poinsettias at least.

  2. Thank you for writing this. Now I know my amaryllis isn’t getting enough light and I’ll have to rehome it. I’m not sure why I believed the shop assistant, who claimed it will do fine in a room so dark even spider plants are struggling.

    • The shop assistant probably never thought you’d want to save your amaryllis for further flowerings. He/she might simply considered it to be a disposable item. And once an amaryllis is ready to bloom, it will do so even in poor light.

  3. Thank you for writing this. Now I know my amaryllis isn’t getting enough light and I’ll have to rehome it. I’m not sure why I believed the shop assistant, who claimed it will do fine in a room so dark even spider plants are struggling.

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