In the depths of winter—we got six inches of white fluffy yesterday—I’m jazzed about the crimson trumpets of the amaryllis blaring from my kitchen island. Two sturdy 32-inch-tall stalks rise above my ‘Red Lion’ bulb.
One set of 6-inch flowers unfurled first and is starting to shrivel but the other is just opening.
People often ask me how to get their amaryllis to rebloom. Just follow these easy steps:
- When the blooms have faded, cut the flower stalk close to the bulb. Don’t be alarmed if “sap” gushes from the cut. Compost the stalk and spent blooms.
- It’s time to beef up the bulb now, because that will produce next year’s flowers. Keep the amaryllis watered and fed (monthly is enough) with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Keep the pot in a sunny spot while it’s indoors.
- Once the danger of frost is past, set your pot outside for the summer. I like to place mine in a spot that gets some sun but gets shaded from harsh late afternoon sun. At first, the strappy leaves may wither from shock, but a new spurt of growth should follow. Some people transplant their bulbs right into the ground, where they’ll produce a lovely crop of glossy green leaves. I take the easy route and just keep them the pot. Keep them happy with plenty of water and a little jolt of liquid fertilizer every two to four weeks.
- Before frost, bring the pots indoors . If you want yours to bloom for Christmas, haul it inside by mid-August because it takes several weeks of dormancy before it can bloom.
- Put the bulb to sleep. Stop watering and tuck it in a cool (55 degrees or so) place. Mine take their naps in a root cellar section of my basement. All their leaves dry up, and they look pretty forlorn.
- After 8-10 weeks of shuteye, you can (but don’t need to) repot the bulb into fresh soil. Just be sure two-thirds of the bulb shows above the soil line.
- Tip: They like their roots crowded. Choose a pot that’s no bigger than two times the diameter of the bulb.
- Ready for action? Start watering.
- Bloom time!
Planting Queen tip for amaryllis: If you want big flowers and sturdy stalks, you have to start with the biggest bulb you can find. Expect to pay $25 for one top-size bulb. If that seems extravagant, just remember: You can rebloom it for years to come.