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Starting amaryllis from bulbs in containers


Season after season, bright and bold colors, big blooms and lush leaves emerge from amaryllis bulbs.

Amaryllis in containers add colorful blooms to dreary winter days.Good quality amaryllis bulbs may produce single or multiple flowers on a single stalk. The larger the bulb, the larger the flower. Large bulbs may produce up to three flower stalks. It’s possible some bulbs could bloom in the summer as well as the winter, depending on the temperature and other growing conditions.

Amaryllis thrive in containers, love sunshine and are easy to care for. After planting, the bulbs can produce their showy blooms about six weeks later if properly moved through the stages of dormancy and growth.

Planting tips

If you're purchasing bulbs, plant them immediately. If you're digging bulbs out of outdoor gardens, the best time to move them into pots is from September through January. Bulbs can be left in their original containers for a few years before repotting is necessary. Because amaryllis flower stalks can become top heavy, plant each bulb in a substantial container that has about two inches of space around it. A heavy, rather shallow pot is a good choice, because being root bound doesn't hamper the bulb's growth. Before adding potting soil, place pebbles over the drainage holes.

Leave about one-half of the bulb above the soil during planting. Water thoroughly and place the container in a sunny location. You won't need to water it again until the amaryllis bulb begins to sprout. Once the first flower blooms, move the plant to a cool location with indirect light to preserve the flowers as long as possible. More frequent watering can prolong the blooms, too.

Subsequent blooms

As the flowers fade, cut the stalks back to an inch or two above the top of the bulb. Don't trim the leaves, though, as they fuel next year's blooms.

Before a potted amaryllis can flower again, the bulb must go dormant for a time. Stop watering and fertilizing the bulb by early October to initiate dormancy. Cut back withering foliage. Place the pot in a warm dry place until January, and resume watering and fertilizing. The flowering cycle will begin again.

A properly cared for amaryllis bulb may produce flowers for up to 75 years. Through the years, the bulbs will naturally multiply. When repotting or transplanting the bulbs, break off any small side bulbs and pot them. They won't bloom the first year, but should produce flowers after two or three years.

If you want to transplant container amaryllis bulbs to an outdoor garden, wait until late spring when the threat of a late frost has passed.

Failure to bloom

While several factors can cause amaryllis not to bloom, all of them are relatively easy to remedy.

Poor drainage inhibits flowering. Amaryllis love sunshine, so too much shade makes them less hardy. The plant may produce more leaves instead of flowers when the soil is too rich, or too much nitrogen fertilizer or water is applied. Diseases such as red blotch or leaf scorch also prevent blooming.


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