The Q&A Archives: The Amarylis Started Growing In The Box

Question: I received a Christmas gift of an mirnirva amarylis bulb. It started growing in the box (it was a package from the garden place.) The stem is white and the flower died. What should I do? Should I put it in soil and let it grow? Should I chop off this sprout and start again?

Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: Amaryllis are living bulbs and sometimes the inadvertent stresses and length of time involved in the shipping and retail process is just too much for them. The premature, faded bloom and the bloom stem should be trimmed off at the base. If the bulb has sufficient reserves, it may subsequently send up another bloom stem this season, or it may not.

In any case, to try to maximize its chances and salvage the bulb for next year, you need to begin treating it like a real plant as you have guessed already. First off make sure the bulb is firm and not rotten, if it is rotten you probably will not have much success.

Set the bulb in a good quality soilless potting mix so that the top third of the bulb is above the soil. Do not plant it too deep or it may rot. A pot about five inches in diameter is probably large enough, these bulbs like to be a bit potbound.

At planting time, water it gently to settle the soil, place the pot in a very bright location and keep the soil barely damp. With luck, you will see either another bloom stem and/or some foliage begin to grow in a few weeks. As the blooms fade, remove them. Remove the stem once all the buds have bloomed and faded, cut it off at the base taking care not to damage any foliage.

When foliage begins to grow, water a little more so that the soil stays moist but never soggy and use a water soluble fertilizer according to the label instructions. The foliage will grow and strengthen the bulb so it can bloom again. The more healthy foliage you can get it to produce, the better.

Eventually it will be time to "rest" the bulb and set it into bloom sequence again. In early fall, withold water and allow the foliage to wither. Set the bulb pot and all in a cool (say 50 degrees) and dry location for about eight to ten weeks. Do not water it during this time. Trim away the dead foliage as it dries.

After the rest period, or a bit sooner if the plant begins to grow on its own, bring the pot into the brightest location possible and water it lightly until it blooms and the foliage begins to grow. Repeat as above annually but repot only when terribly crowded.

Good luck with your amaryllis!

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