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YARD AND GARDEN

YARD AND GARDEN: It takes more than luck to get your amaryllis to rebloom

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Master Gardener Juanita Sherwood advises on how to rebloom amaryllis.

I am especially interested in getting amaryllis to rebloom this year as I spent a bit of money on a gorgeous red double bloom as well as a dark pink one. I ordered both online. I would like to get my money’s worth by getting them to rebloom.

In the past, I have half-heartedly hoped, more than tried, to get amaryllis to rebloom. The best luck I ever had in reblooming one was an accident. One summer, my husband set a couple outside in the shade and left them in their indoor pots.

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Later, I looked out one of my glass sunroom walls and noted that one of my amaryllises was indeed blooming. Mostly what’s happened to my amaryllis bulbs in the past was good leaf production, but nothing resembling a bloom.

My husband’s grandmother, who could make a bare stick grow, reputedly just pitched her spent amaryllis bulb into a bucket, stored it in an unheated garage, got it out every fall, repotted it, and had a nice bloom during the Christmas season. Not sure if that was quite her procedure, but it makes a good story. She did have outstanding house plants.

Just how does one get an amaryllis bulb to rebloom? Here’s what the experts say. First, remove the flowers as they dry up. After all are removed, cut the stem back to about an inch above the bulb. Let the bulb produce leaves. Keep the leaves going until after the chance of frost has passed, then acclimate the amaryllis to the outdoors, placing it in shade or indirect light.

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Once adapted, you can move it to a location where it receives more light and some rain. The leaves should be encouraged to do well as that will give the bulb nourishment. Fertilize monthly with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer.

Before the first frost, bring the amaryllis indoors and store it in a cool, dry place out of bright light, but not necessarily total darkness. Don’t water and let the leaves dry up then remove them. Leave the bulb in that location until you are ready to get your plant to bloom again, approximately 8-12 weeks.

If needed, repot the bulb in fresh potting medium. The bulb needs about one inch of space around its sides, and the roots need plenty of space at the bottom. If using a different pot, make sure to use a pot with a drain hole. Let the top one-third of the bulb show.

Follow the growth process you used the first time: water the bulb, fertilize regularly, place it in adequate sunlight, make sure of the daily quarter turn, and wait for the bloom to emerge. Your amaryllis bulb should bloom again.

Sounds simple enough. But questions arise. First, what kind of potting medium should be used? While Christmas shopping, I noted various places that offered amaryllis bulbs in a container and were on their way to blooming. They were placed in a variety of potting mediums and containers. One place had bulbs growing in small white stones, and the containers were clear glass. Another had them in what appeared to be potting soil in ceramic containers. It’s best to choose a potting soil with high organic matter.

Secondly, will the bulb produce a bloom similar to the original? What I have surmised from online research is that the new blooms should be the same as before or similar.

Master Gardeners have generated quite a dialogue among ourselves about re-blooming amaryllis. One reports getting hers to re-bloom for 10 years. Another uses regular potting soil. Reports are that the blooms are not quite as lush when the bulb re-blooms, but that shouldn’t be a drawback to encouraging re-blooming.

With a little effort, you can encourage an amaryllis bulb to bloom again—maybe even more than once. One online source reports an individual claiming to have an amaryllis that bloomed 75 times. Hmmm….

If you have questions about your garden or landscape, contact a master gardener at the University of Illinois Extension office in Mattoon at 217-345-7034 or through our online hotline at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/1523725. Be sure to visit U of I Extension's horticulture website http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ and like the Master Gardeners' Facebook page www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners.


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