Amaryllis are gorgeous tropical perennials of the Hippeastrum genus, traditionally forced to bloom indoors over the winter holiday season.
And with the right care after flowering, these showy ornamentals will last for years.
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Fast-growing plants that are easy to cultivate and fun to grow, the large bare bulbs produce flamboyant, colorful flowers in a matter of weeks.
And while many who receive them as gifts or purchase them to adorn their homes discard the bulbs after the flowers fade, they’re easy to save for future use.
In USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, you can plant them in your garden where they’ll produce beautiful flowers in the spring each year.
These stout and robust bulbs are frost tender. But they love spending summer outdoors in cooler zones, and with just a little help, can rebloom again indoors for many winters to come.
Some Hippeastrum growers even tell tales of bulbs lasting for decades, passed on from one generation to the next as treasured family heirlooms!
So if you’re ready to start your own flowering heirlooms, join us now for a look at the easy but important steps required to care for amaryllis after flowering.
Here’s what’s coming up:
What You’ll Learn
Green Plant Treatment
After flowering, Hippeastrum varieties are treated as any green, growing plant might be if you want to see them bloom again in future seasons.
Spent flowers are deadheaded and regular applications of water and fertilizer are maintained.
When the flowers are faded and wilted, snip the stems with a clean, sharp knife or scissors, cutting a few inches above the neck of the bulb.
Do not remove the strappy foliage. For bulbs to flower again next season, the leaves are needed to recharge food reserves through the process of photosynthesis.
Leave bulbs in their containers in a brightly lit location and continue to water regularly, allowing the soil surface to dry out between applications.
After removing the spent blooms, fertilize with a bulb-booster formula such as 5-10-10 NPK – fertilizers intended to promote blooming typically have a lower ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus and potassium.
When spring arrives, plants can be moved outdoors to enjoy the warm temperatures and sunshine.
If you prefer to keep your plants indoors, place containers in a brightly lit location.
Water regularly over spring and summer, and apply a slow-release, bulb-booster fertilizer in mid-spring.
In mid-August, follow the steps outlined in the Force into Dormancy section of the article below for another season of indoor winter flowers.
Potted Outdoor Care
After all danger of frost has passed and overnight temperatures remain above 50° F, move pots outdoors.
The plants can stay in their containers or you can transplant them into the ground in gardens in Zones 9 to 11 – more on that in a bit.
Before settling into their summer habitat, harden them off for outdoor life by placing potted bulbs in a partially shaded and protected site for three or four days.
Move the container into a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade for another week before moving or planting them into their permanent, full to part sun location.
In hotter regions, Hippeastrum plants do best with some afternoon shade to protect them from intense sunshine.
Nestle pots into the soil to help protect the roots, burying them with the soil level close to the rim.
Apply a slow-release fertilizer in mid- to late spring.
Keep the soil lightly moist, allowing the surface of the soil to dry between watering. Take care to avoid overwatering or wet conditions, which can lead to root rot.
Leave containers in place until it’s time to force bulbs into dormancy.
Force into Dormancy
To enjoy another season of indoor flowers, the growing green plants need to be forced into dormancy.
In mid-August, bring potted plants back indoors to a brightly lit location for a couple of weeks, withholding water and fertilizer. Withhold water and fertilizer from plants that remain indoors year-round at this time as well.
Remove the foliage as it wilts and browns. Once the foliage is finished, in three to four weeks after beginning to withhold water, move plants into a cooler, semi-dark location until late September.
Continue to withhold water and fertilizer.
In late September, trim bulbs of all foliage, clipping close to the neck, then remove them from the soil.
Clean bulbs gently, leaving the roots in place, and nestle them into a bed of peat moss or perlite so they’re not touching. Cover them lightly, leaving only the neck exposed.
To induce flowering, dormant bulbs need to chill for at least eight weeks.
Store a cool, dark, dry, and well-ventilated environment such as a cellar or unheated garage with temperatures in the range of 40 to 50°F.
After resting and chilling for eight to ten weeks, in late October or early November, trim the roots and pot bulbs in fresh, humus-rich and well-draining potting soil.
Set the pots in a bright, sunny location with warmer temperatures in the range of 70 to 80°F.
Water the potting medium thoroughly. Don’t water again until new growth emerges in two to eight weeks.
Once the new growth appears, follow the water, feeding, and cultivation routines outlined in our guide to growing and caring for amaryllis flowers.
Transplant into the Garden
Forced bulbs that are planted in the garden soil in appropriate zones will revert back to their natural habit of blooming in spring.
Choose a well-draining site with full to part sun and humus-rich soil. Hippeastrum plants also prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5.
Avoid areas exposed to strong winds that can damage tall stems.
Mix a little bone meal into the soil in the planting site for strong, healthy roots then plant bulbs up to their necks, leaving the top third of the bulb and all foliage exposed.
Firm the soil in place and water to settle. After that, water whenever the top inch of soil is dry.
Feed with a slow-release fertilizer in spring and summer.
For more cultivation details, check out our guide to growing amaryllis outdoors in the garden.
Beautiful Winter Blooms
With just a little bit of after-flower care and attention, your amaryllis bulbs can continue to blossom for years, regularly adding their beautiful blooms to your winter homescape.
Treat them as green foliage plants until they go outdoors for summer, then encourage them to enter dormancy at summer’s end for another season of fantastic winter flowers!
Or in Zone 9 to 11 gardens, transplant them into the ground to enjoy their colorful blooms each spring.
Do you folks save your bulbs? Any tips to pass along? Let us know in the comments section below.
And for more amaryllis know-how, add these guides to your reading list next: