The Q&A Archives: Amaryllis Not Blooming For 2nd Year

Question: My Amaryllis was beautiful until 2 years ago when it flowered, but had no foliage. Last year it grew foliage, but did not flower. This year, it's doing the same thing.....all foliage and no flower.

This is a gorgeous double-white and I'd like to get it back in synch. Is this possible and how do I do it?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Lynne Northrop

Answer: It's sounds as though your amaryllis is a little out of sync. Foliage is good - it helps collect and store energy in the bulb for the next season's flower display. But, in order for the energy to be directed into flower development, the bulb needs to rest in a cool, dark place. Here are a few guidelines for getting amaryllis to bloom and bloom and bloom for years to come:

When you get your bulbs, plant them in a pot that fits it rather snugly - there should be no more than about an inch of room between bulb and pot. Be sure there are at least 2-3 inches of soil beneath the base of the bulb, and leave the neck of the bulb exposed. Use a soil-less potting medium , because it is light and drains well - and most bulbs require excellent drainage.

Water the bulb in lightly. The mix should be damp, not wet. Then take the pot, bulb and all, and place it in a cool, dark place.

Keep an eye on it. Soon you will begin to see growth.

When that happens, bring the pot out into the light. To reduce any possible stress on the plant, do it gradually, doing from dark to dim and finally to light. At this point you can begin to water it again, adding a small amount of fertilizer. Once again - make sure the soil is moist but not wet.

Now - just stand back and watch. Pretty soon the bloom stalk should begin to grow taller and taller - and finally the bud will swell, and before you know it - your amaryllis is in bloom!

When the blooms start to fade you will notice the foliage beginning to emerge. Now is when we start to prepare your plant for next year. Continue moderate watering and feeding. When the flowers wilt, cut the entire bloom stalk off - but leave the leaves. The plant gets the energy to flower because those leaves absorb nutrients and deliver them to the bulb. You want to pamper those leaves as if they were precious. Take them outside for the summer. Don't forget to feed them - but lightly.

By fall, the leaves should start to die back. Let them. Do not cut them off until they are yellow and quite ugly. (This is a good time to start returning them to their original dark hiding place.) Remove the leaves when they are completely shriveled. Then put the bulb and pot away and forget them.

Well - don't TOTALLY forget them. Give them a check every couple of weeks until you see signs of life. Do not water them. Let them stay in the dark. The bulb is resting, gathering energy. And when it has gathered enough it will signal you with emerging green growth.

And that's when you start the whole process again. Every year. If you have been faithful with your watering and feeding that bulb should reward you annually. Some may even surprise you by sending up a flower in mid-summer. And eventually they will produce small offset bulbs that you can detach and pot up. These baby bulbs won't be ready to bloom for about three years but hey - for all practical purposes they are free!

So that's all there is too it. A time in the dark, an hour in the spotlight and a summer of energy-gathering is all you need to keep that amaryllis going on and on and on.

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