Amaryllis Secrets And Care: What To Do With Amaryllis After Blooming

Amaryllis flowers are some of the most dramatic you can grow, especially if you’re growing them indoors. 

Getting them to flower the first time around is fairly simple, but what do you do when the bulb has finished flowering? 

Well, if you treat your amaryllis bulbs with the right care, paying attention to light, how to get the plant to go dormant, and when to feed it, your amaryllis bulbs will live for years and years.

It can feel like a little pressure to get the care right so that your plant will rebloom the following year, but it isn’t difficult, and once you’ve done it once, it’s a breeze!

It’s worth noting that this plant is considered toxic to dogs and cats, so keep these beautiful plants well out of reach.

Let’s get started.

How To Plant Amaryllis

It’s worth mentioning that the bulbs we’re talking about in this post come from the Hippeastrum genus, where amaryllis is the common name. 

We’re not talking about Amaryllis belladonna, also known as the belladonna lily, as this is a completely separate species and not the one you’ll commonly see sold as Amaryllis.

Amaryllis bulbs are not complicated, but you can’t treat them like leafy tropical plants and expect them to come back year after year. No, you need to treat them like bulbs!

If you can get the care aspects right, both for when they are actively flowering and when they should go dormant, you will have a gorgeous plant for years to come, sometimes even decades!

What To Look For When You Buy Amaryllis

It’s a good idea to start with a robust bulb. When you buy amaryllis, it’s worth doing so in person, no matter where you get it from.

Aim for the biggest amaryllis bulb your bank account can stretch to. There is little point in buying a tiny amaryllis bulb if you want one that will come back year after year.

It’ll do fine for one season, but it’s not worth the effort of getting it to rebloom.

Go for bulbs that you can see. Most will be packaged in netting underneath the cardboard picture, so always turn it over and gently squeeze the bulb to make sure it is firm and healthy.

If you can only get amaryllis bulbs online, go for the sites that tell you how big you can expect the bulbs to be, and get them from a reputable seller.

Planting Amaryllis

Make Sure The Pot Is The Right Size

One of the most important aspects you need to think about when planting amaryllis is the size of the container it will go in. 

You don’t want a huge pot, but it can’t be too small, either. Unlike you would with tulips, you’re not burying the whole bulb into the soil, so keep this in mind.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a pot that will leave about two inches of space between the bulb and the edge of the pot.

If you can, use a ceramic or terracotta container, as this will help weigh down the bulbs. As the flowers appear, the bulbs can become top-heavy and flop over, breaking the stems!

Terracotta pots will also help prevent root rot, as they lose moisture faster than plastic containers.

How Deep Do You Plant Amaryllis?

When you pot up the amaryllis, leave about half of the bulb exposed, making sure the rest is under the soil.

Don’t plant it any deeper than that, as it might not flower at all. Any shallower, and the plant may tip over as it gets heavier, and this is something you want to avoid!

When it comes to the type of compost you should use, any all-purpose compost will do. If you like, you can use a compost formulated for bulbs, but all-purpose works just as well.

It’s a good idea to incorporate some general fertilizer within the compost, but make sure that it doesn’t have lots of Nitrogen, as that’s not great for bulbs.

For best results, use a bulb feed that’s designed to go into the compost just before you plant the bulb.

Once you’ve put the bulb into the soil, make sure you firm the soil down a little to anchor the bulb into the pot. Give it some water, not too much, but enough to hydrate the soil.

How To Encourage Your Amaryllis To Flower

Put your amaryllis bulb in the brightest and warmest place in your home. Honestly, the more light you can give amaryllis bulbs, the better they will do.

While you can place the bulb in indirect sunlight, you won’t see the best that these plants are capable of without some direct sunlight.

A Southern-facing window is perfect for this plant, and giving it enough sunlight is the key to getting it to flower.

But you will need to pay attention to the moisture levels in the soil. With brighter light, the soil will dry out quicker, so be prepared to check the soil often.

Do not overdo the watering schedule. Before the bulb’s growth takes off, it won’t need a huge amount of water, so only give it a drink when the top two inches of soil are dry.

Keep Rotating The Pot

An important aspect of setting your plant up to be stable is to keep rotating the pot every couple of days.

Plants will always grow toward the light, and you want to make sure that the stem is as straight as it can be.

Keep doing this even when the plant produces buds, as it’ll stop any dramatic leaning that could cause the stems to snap.

When your amaryllis does produce a flower stalk, expect about 4 buds on a healthy plant, which will create an amazing display.

So what should you do when the flowers have finished?

What To Do Once The Flowers Have Finished

Some people throw out their amaryllis bulbs after the flowers have finished, but you don’t need to do this, and it would be a shame when you can allow the bulb to go dormant, giving the plant the rest it needs for another blooming cycle later on.

Cut Back The Flower Stalks

When the plant has finished blooming, take down the stalks, right back to the bulb, but do not cut any leaves.

This stops the plant from putting any more energy into the flower stalk. Now, you need to look after the amaryllis bulbs, sustaining the growth until the following year, and it will rebloom before you know it.

Caring For Your Amaryllis Plants

Provide It With The Right Conditions Inside To Allow The Leaves To Mature

Once the flower stalks have been cut from the bulb, it’s time to encourage as much growth as possible when it comes to the leaves.

The plant does not immediately go dormant after it has finished flowering. Instead, the leaves keep growing, so keep caring for the plant at this stage.

The more consistent the care, the better the plant will flower when it is time for it to rebloom. Allow the leaves to mature and new growth to form over the next few months.

This is easy to fit in alongside any other plant care, and once you’ve done it once, it becomes second nature.

A Bright And Sunny Windowsill

Give your amaryllis the brightest position possible at this point. 

The idea here is to give the plant as much energy as possible, as how much light it can convert into energy at this stage will affect how well the next flowering display goes, including how many flowers you get, and how big they get.

A Southern-facing window is ideal, as it will also give the plant some direct sunlight, which is perfect!

If you don’t have a Southern-facing window, put it in the brightest window possible, getting it as close to the window without touching the glass as possible.

You’ll soon know if the place you’ve chosen isn’t bright enough. Dim light causes weak growth that is prone to flopping over, so if this happens in the brightest spot in your home, you may want to use a grow light instead.

Water When The Top Inch Of Soil Is Dry

When it comes to watering during the active growth stage, it’s important to allow the top inch of the soil’s surface to dry out. 

This will stop the bulb from rotting, but it will keep it hydrated enough that it won’t cause the plant any stress. Water when the top inch goes dry, but do not allow the plant to sit in water, as it will rot quickly.

Use A Bulb Fertilizer

Do not use a general houseplant fertilizer for amaryllis bulbs, especially one with balanced ingredients. Go for a fertilizer that is specially designed for bulbs, with higher levels of Phosphorus and Potassium for optimum growth.

Giving your plant the occasional feed while it is actively growing can make a world of difference when it comes to how many flowers are produced, and how big they will be.

It is always worth it. Just make sure that you follow the instructions on the label when it comes to dosage and how often you should feed, rather than general instructions elsewhere, as each fertilizer is different.

Gradually Harden Off The Bulb And Place It Outside

Once the weather warms up, it’s a good idea to put your amaryllis bulbs outside for a while.

Only do this when it’s safe enough to put the fussiest of your houseplants outdoors for the majority of the day, as you don’t want any cold temperatures to damage your amaryllis.

You’ll need to gradually harden off the bulbs, just as you would with putting any houseplant outside for a while.

If you don’t, your plants can suffer from leaf scorch, and even shock. It doesn’t matter what sort of position they were in indoors, full sunlight or otherwise, they still need a transitional period.

Once the weather warms up, move your amaryllis plants outside, into the shadiest part of your garden for a couple of hours, giving it a little longer each day. 

Gradually increase the light levels, starting with morning sunlight. Don’t be tempted to try and speed up this process, otherwise, you will damage the plant.

How To Prepare For The Re-Blooming Process

Once summer is over and the temperatures are starting to dip, it’s time to bring the plant back indoors, or at least, move it to a sheltered spot.

If temperatures stay above 55°F, it’s fine to leave the plant outside.

Stop Watering Your Plant!

This is your secret weapon when it comes to starting the dormancy phase in any plant: put down the watering can or spray bottle.

Do not water your plant. The foliage will turn yellow and look incredibly sickly, but this is normal. You haven’t killed it! All that energy is going right back into the bulb, so don’t cut it off just yet.

Remove The Foliage Once It Has Died Back

Once all the foliage has wilted, let it dry up, and then take some sharp and clean scissors, and cut it all off. Take it back to the neck of the bulb, and it will instantly look a thousand times better if a little bare.

Let The Plant Go Dormant

To allow the plant to rest, put your amaryllis somewhere cool and dark for about 6 weeks or so. You don’t want any light or lots of warmth waking up the bulb before it is ready.

The majority of amaryllis bulbs need this period of dormancy to sustain healthy growth. Just something to keep in mind. The only notable exception is the butterfly amaryllis, also known as Hippeastrum papilio.

Keep a note of the day you put the plant into plant purgatory so that you can return to it in six weeks.

Return The Amaryllis To A Bright Spot

After six weeks, bring your plant back to the sunniest and warmest place in your home. 

It’s a good idea at this point to feed the plant using a specially formulated bulb fertilizer, to help give the plant everything it needs at this point.

Remember to stay away from houseplant fertilizers, as these usually contain too much nitrogen.

Give the plant a good watering, but don’t give it a waterfall at this point. It doesn’t need it, especially when the growth hasn’t picked up yet.

If you can, use a fish emulsion fertilizer every so often, which will also give the plant everything it needs for healthy growth.

Pretty soon after you’ve introduced it back to the bright windowsill, you’ll notice new growth. After that, the growth rate will pick up, and you’ll see the stalks or the leaves first.

It’s a good idea to keep a note of when your amaryllis puts on its spectacular display of flowers, so you know exactly when this individual plant is supposed to bloom.

You can also trigger the dormancy period earlier or later to make sure it blooms in time for the holiday period, or, just after, when everything seems a little bare and the house needs a pop of color.

What To Do With A Waxed Amaryllis Bulb

Waxed amaryllis bulbs are becoming more and more popular. The idea behind them is that you don’t have to do any work with these bulbs at all, simply place them as they are in front of a window, and wait for them to burst into flower.

The bulbs are covered in wax, which helps keep the plant hydrated. It means you don’t need to plant them, nor do you need to worry about watering them.

It’s a good trick, but it will mean that it is a one-and-done bulb. It won’t come back the following year.

Considering how easy it is to get these bulbs to flower, and how beautiful they are, this is a big waste. 

If you want a long-lived amaryllis that will come back year after year, make sure you get a healthy bulb that has not been treated with wax.

If you have a waxed amaryllis bulb that you want to try and save, you need to try and peel off the wax as quickly as possible.

As you go along, you may find that the surface of the bulb doesn’t look great. Sometimes the contact with the wax means that the surface starts to rot or become mushy, so peel this layer off to stop that from spreading.

There may also be some wire at the very bottom of the bulb, designed to keep it upright. Get rid of this too.

Once you’ve done that, time to set the bulb aside for a couple of days. It’s important to do this, as it allows the air to get to the bulb, which it has sadly been missing when it’s been coated in wax.

After that, pot up the bulb as you would with unwaxed amaryllis. Hold off on watering the plant for a few days to let it recover, and then give it a drink.

Put the pot in the brightest and warmest place in your home, and hope for the best. Keep in mind that it may not be possible to save the bulb, depending on how long it has been in the wax.

To save yourself from disappointment, it’s a good idea to grow an unwaxed amaryllis bulb at the same time.

Things To Consider When Growing Amaryllis

What To Do If Amaryllis Flowers Are Not Appearing

If it’s the time of year when your amaryllis flowers should be growing (and this will change depending on when the bulb is put through its dormancy period), and your plant is not flowering, it doesn’t have the energy.

Plants will not produce flowers until they have the energy to do so, so move your plant to a brighter position to achieve this. If possible, give your amaryllis as much direct sunlight as you can.

Should You Deadhead Amaryllis Flowers?

You should deadhead amaryllis flowers, but only after all of them have wilted. Don’t make the mistake of treating them like a rose where you would cut off the flower at the first sign of wilt.

Wait until all the flowers have died back, and then remove the flower stem with sharp and clean scissors or secateurs.

The reason for this is to let the energy go back into the bulb, rather than cutting the flowers off and letting them go to waste.

Try to avoid nicking any leaves. You want to leave them on the bulb so that the plant can store as much energy as possible before the dormancy period, as this will lead to better flowers.

Final Thoughts

Once you know the secret to amaryllis care, and when you should trigger the dormancy period, you will see your amaryllis bulbs thrive under your care.

The flowers will come back year after year, as long as you remove the flower stalks once they have finished, and you care for the plant, leaving the leaves intact.

Don’t forget that nearly all amaryllis bulbs need a dormancy period to bloom, otherwise they will not have the energy to do so. 

It’s a natural process designed to keep the plant alive, and the better you can mimic its natural growing conditions, the longer your plant will live.

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