A CHRISTMAS PRESENT that didn’t seem to want to celebrate then or even well into late winter is now making quite a spectacle in my living room. Hippeastrum ‘Supreme Garden’ (common name: amaryllis) has been in full bloom for nearly three weeks, after looking for months like it wouldn’t even break dormancy.
Generous Andrew and Bob, who got ‘Supreme Garden’ at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, potted three in a terra cotta pot and shared it in December. The bulbs are not as big as those of classic red amaryllis like ‘Red Lion,’ and neither are the individual flowers. But each of my bulbs finally awoke and pushed up two flowers, and each in turn holds six flowers. Do the math: That’s 3 times 2 times 6, or 36 flowers. So far ‘Supreme Garden’ has been at it for nearly two weeks, with signs of fading just beginning.
I’ll cut down the flower stems when the blooms finish, then grow the plants outdoors in bright filtered light all summer, feeding and watering like I do my other houseplants. In fall I’ll withhold water and put the bulbs, pot and all, in a closet somewhere to really force it to rest. Not that ‘Supreme Garden’ seems disinclined to take a long winter’s nap. Perhaps six or eight weeks later (meaning when I remember) I’ll take it out, top up the soil if needed, and water once, then place the plants in a bright spot until it wants to grow.
No trying to coax an amaryllis with repeat waterings, which can rot the bulb. Wait a few weeks or a month before trying again, and once a shoot of some kind appears, begin to water regularly.
Those are just beautiful! I love amaryllis anytime of the year and my Mom can grow them in the ground in Florida. They are something to see growing next to her Cannas and Bird of Paradise.
I have a persnickety Amaryllis bulb which is just sitting on the shelf. Perhaps it will be inspired by this one! I would find a poinsettia blooming at this time of year a bit disconcerting but an Amaryllis is so lush and velvety it would be welcome anytime!
I grow these every year, although usually the ‘apple blossom’ variety. The longest I’ve been able to ‘reuse’ a bulb has been three years. The fourth year it just decided to keep sleeping, no matter what I did. I used to have a huge south-facing window and they just flourished there. One winter I got two cycles out of one bulb.
Margaret, a quick question: do you trim off the leaves when you put the bulbs into dormancy, or just leave them on to wither? I have been leaving the leaves on, but wondered if cutting them off might help with the bloom. Thanks!
Hi, Didi. Yes, I put them in as-is, leaves and all, and just stop watering and providing light for a couple of months. Let the leaves wither on their own.
Margaret, Two weeks ago, I received an order of 6 amaryllis bulbs sold for CHristmas blooming (4 – 6 weeks to bloom). I kept them in the garage where it is cooler. Just checked on them again and one variety has stems already! some as long as 4 – 6 inches. If I plant them now, they will be in bloom for Thanksgiving. Is it possible to stall the growth a little at this point? The other three bulbs have tiny green nibs at the top. I was planning that perfect (right out of Martha Stewart Living) grouping of flowers for a holiday party, not in November . .. any suggestions?
@Nancy: Cool temps will help, but probably not enough to really stop things. With bulbs that have been prepped elsewhere, meaning in a commercial nursery, it’s like they have a mind of their own the first year. I fear if you leave them in the dark at this point, with stem showing, the growth will be disfigured and all pale and weak. So I guess you just need to buy a round of sleepier bulbs for that Martha holiday moment. Sorry.
Margaret, I love the line “Martha holiday moment” . .. sounds crazy when I see it written. More bulbs are never a bad thing, buying more will guarantee that they will all be in some sort of bloom for the holidays. Thank you again for the practical advice. I will plant them all tomorrow and enjoy the process.
My son’s very first Valentine’s Day was marked with a photograph of him and a red amaryllis. Thirty years later, I still have both. Of course, the amaryllis didn’t move away…..
Hello, Mayapple. What a beautiful story (and what an amazing one–such a long-lived plant!). Very impressive. Hope to see you soon again.
I have read everyone’s amaryllis story and I have a question. I want to force amaryllis bulbs to bloom in October 2009 for my wedding reception. I want to buy the bulbs now and keep it dormant until I plant it next year. Is it harmful to keep the bulbs dormant for 9 months? When should I plant the bulbs so that they will bloom in mid October?
Thanks in advance,
Welcome, Ket, and congratulations on the upcoming happy event. You won’t be able to force the bulbs to stay asleep any longer than they want to, as they have minds of their own. Even if you don’t pot them they will start sprouting at some point. I suggest calling one of the vendors in my Sources list at the right side of the page, perhaps John Scheepers or Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, and asking how you can obtain bulbs that will perform in that time period. Too risky otherwise, I think.
Ket — For your Wedding Day, my very best wishes! As to an amaryllis for the happy event, I would suggest the miniature, “Scarlet Baby”, which is very reliable and can be counted on to be timely. It is also full of so many blooms that you could lose a few and still have a beautiful plant. I think it is my favorite of all my collection — it’s spritely, the foliage stays nice, and seeing it makes your heart sing! It will have so many blooms you could lose a few and still have many for The Day. Margaret is right, however, in recommending that you get professional advice. John Scheepers sends wonderful large bulbs and I would bet on them. If you call soon, they will probably be able to send the bulbs in September. Buy a few extra…..
Amaryllis news! I bought an amaryllis in memory of my husband’s grandma Helen who loved gardening. I followed your advice Margaret from your book, which I bought a few years ago on a trip to NY. I am in London. Anyway, I stashed it in a cupboard and I’ve just got it out and there’s a green shoot two inches tall. I cannot believe this!! I’ve watered it and set it in a sunny windowsill. If it flowers I think I will go mad with joy. I love the idea of the woman who photographed her baby next to her amaryllis. I will take a photo of my little boy if this flowers and send you a copy if I can manage that jpeg business. I am not the most confident gardener but I try my best.
Best wishes everybody and happy greetings from England.
Welcome, Ireneberry. What do you mean “if” it flowers? WHEN it blooms! Sounds like you have mastered Amaryllis 101. Hope to hear from you soon again-and if you master the jpg thing, you can upload into the Forums any photo(s) that you have of it, and let us know here in comments–I will double back and link them together for you.
Ha ha Margaret – okay, you’re on! Irene
I received Amaryllis a few years ago and I was told after summer to put it in a dark place etc. However, after last summer I just continued to keep it on the window. To mu surprise it started blooming in April (we had a beautiful Easter display). This year I did not try to make it dormant – wandering when it will bloom!
Welcome, Marina. I have one that likes to bloom really late, too, like yours apparently does. They do have a mind of their own, and some will resist any effort to train them into a particular blooming time it seems. Hard to guess when yours will bloom–is it sending up fresh foliage or has no foliage or ???? If it bloomed last April doubtful it will be an early one, as i needs most of the year to prepare itself again.
Ah, Amaryllis for Easter! When I purchase new bulbs for Christmas — and I always purchase new bulbs for Christmas — it’s with a thought to how well they’re going to look in future Easter seasons.
Margaret, I agree they have a mind of their own, so lots of nice surprises await. My new ones started blooming ten days ago and my collection will provide blooms until after Easter. :)
I left my hardy amaryrills outside the entire winter in it’s pot. We were to have a cold front very early in February so I brought them inside to a sunny window with grow lights at night. I now have many blooms about to burst out, I’m so excited! I also had plants that had been forced to bloom around Christmas that were 2-3 years old. Last fall I placed them outside in a southern sunny spot. When the cold front came through I brought them inside to a sunny south window and wa la I now have blooms about to open. I’m not sure what the blooming schedule is, but I’m just tickled pink to have them bloom again.
Welcome, Kathy, who seems to have mastered Amaryllis growing. Good for you. I hope we will see you again soon, with more news of your horticultural successes. :)
Hello Margaret and everybody, Here, as promised, are my amaryllis snaps. Very beauteous and no one more surprised than me that it returned! Margaret, they are uploaded onto the forum and you said you could marry them up for me. Thank you for that. Not being skinflinty but I’ve worked it out that that plant is now effectively half price. I bought two more this winter a dramatic carmine and a pale pink and cream. Next winter it will be so exciting to try again.
Best wishes amaryllis queens eveywhere xxxx
Last year for Christmas I received an amaryllis bulb. Started it growing. It had two spikes and flowers that were beautiful. When they finished blooming I trimmed the spikes and let it grow until about November and moved it to the cool garage with no water for dormancy. In mid March it looked like it wanted to grow. Brought it into the house and the leaves shot out bigger, but I still do not have any spikes. What should I do? Helen
Welcome, Helen. I have found with florists plants like this (or at least bulbs prepared in a nursery or greenhouse grower setting for Year 1 performance when the customer buys them) that sometimes the year after is the hardest. They need to adjust to the new routine. I think it will get used to you this year. Don’t keep it too cold in winter — not sure how that garage is, maybe fine. Don’t give it too much fertilizer (especially N) as it seems inclined to leaves, leaves, leaves. Let it get good light but not sun all season, especially if you can spot it in semi-shade outdoors to enjoy the season.
I always plant my amaryllis in the ground and then bring them in after the first frost. Following White Flower Farms’ guidelines. Sometimes that has been as late as early November. They always do spendidly! Only problem is I have to wait 8-10 weeks bfore repotting them and then wait for the bloom, thus missing the holidays. Wondering how early I can bring them in? Do I need to wait for a frost!?