Reblooming Amaryllis: The 2023 Update

How many are too many?

It’s been a while since I described my process for encouraging your amaryllis bulbs to bloom year after year. Maybe it’s time for an update. Has my process continued to work? Are my bulbs surviving in the cold cruel world of my Montana garden? If you missed my original post, you can find it by clicking here.

Garden Confessions

First, I have to confess that I haven’t kept close track of which amaryllis bulbs are blooming and which are not. That would require too much work and not enough enjoyment. Instead, to ensure that I was always going to have blooms, I bought more bulbs. Pretty much every year I’ve bought more. 2023 is probably the first year I haven’t bought a bulb at all. Haven’t bought one on sale or even a new color, which are my go-to reasons to bring home bulbs.

Now I have 14 pots of amaryllis. Ten of those pots have multiple bulbs in them. I’ve made the decision to give away a few of the smaller bulbs. On the other hand, how many is too many? They don’t take much maintenance and I pot them individually so they don’t take up too much room—relatively speaking. I usually ask my friends if they would like bulbs, but those friends have all bought into these easy-to-care-for flowers after I’ve bragged about mine. I guess I’ll have to see what happens next Fall when it is time to find new homes for a few of them.

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Practicing Consistency

One of the keys to the process of reblooming amaryllis is that you do things consistently. Every year in the off-season when the leaves are growing, they need to be fertilized on a regular basis. I have always used Jack’s Classic Bloom Booster 10-30-20. This is a granular fertilizer that you dissolve in water and I make a weaker solution by using less fertilizer than the instructions recommend. The only time I follow the instructions exactly is when I’m watering plants that are in the ground. Any plants in pots, I’ll dilute fertilizer a little more than the directions describe for a weaker concentration.

Update: I still use Jack’s Bloom Booster, but I’ve added Dyna-Gro brand as well.  These are designed for hydroponics and work fantastic on potted plants. So now, I rotate between a few different fertilizers. I’ll use Jack’s mostly outdoors. On my indoor plants I’ll use their KLN rooting concentrate when they need a little help to get them started. Since I grow so many plants from cuttings and from seed, I’m using this much more than I originally planned. I’ve also used Dyna-Gro’s Grow fertilizer which is 7-9-5. I’ll use this on my non-flowering plants since it is a closer balance of nutrients. Then when my amaryllis (and other flowering plants) are indoors, I use Dyna-Gro’s Bloom which is 3-12-6. Click here for the Dyna-Gro product for your needs.

Update: I’ve increased the frequency of fertilizing. I used to recommend to fertilize twice a month, now I fertilize every 3 out of 4 times that I water. And I generally water only once a week. Not only that, but this year I continue to fertilize even if the flower bud is sprouting from the bulb. Other years, I would hold off on fertilizer until all the blooms were done. I’ve read about holding off on fertilizer during blooming, but then I decided to ignore that advice. And my bulbs are thriving. After all, I don’t stop fertilizing any other of my flowering plants when they are in full bloom.

Sunrise over a crop field.
(Photo courtesy of Federico Respini on Unsplash)

Consistently Outdoors

I have always preached that sunlight is equally, if not more, important than fertilizer. I’ve consistently placed my amaryllis outdoors in full sun during the summer months. As you know, I put them in the garden, buried past the neck of the bulb (in other words, I plant them deeply). This is to protect the bulbs from the early frosts. I dig them up after the light frosts, and before the hard frosts hit. Because frosts are so easy to predict, as you know.

Update: Frosts are very difficult to predict. One year I pulled up my bulbs early because we had a hard frost in the forecast and I was going to be away during that week. This past year, 2023, we got 6” of snow before I could pull them up. I thought for sure I’d get some losses, but the weather cooperated. The ground was not frozen when the snow came so it insulated the ground instead of freezing it. When the snow melted the next week (more good luck) I dug them up and all the bulbs survived. Not only did they survive, but one had a bloom starting to come up.

Double Amaryllis Bloom, red and white
This bulb was sending up a flower bud when I dug it up after the snowfall. It looks perfectly fine, except…
Single Amaryllis bloom, red and white
It only had three flowers on the stalk instead of the usual four (sometimes more). One of the flowers was a single instead of the double flowers (photo above). It seems that the snow had damaged the flower in a minor way but it was still stunning!

Update: In 2022 I put all the pots in the vegetable garden because I had a spot picked out where I could plant all the bulbs together. Due to my negligence, I never planted them in the ground. So all of them stayed in pots for another year. It was my worst year for reblooming and you can read more detail about it by clicking here. Several of them bloomed while they were outside, which has become a common occurrence, but less than half of them bloomed indoors that winter. This is why I’m such a proponent of planting amaryllis bulbs n the ground. It can make a huge difference in encouraging them to rebloom.

Amaryllis blooming in the garden.
Many of my bulbs will bloom outdoors and then bloom again indoors over the winter.

Dormancy Not Required

So many people obsess about dormancy for amaryllis. I have never worried about it. If the bulbs need to be dormant, I’ve found that they shed their leaves and grow new ones in a few weeks. My mantra is to just keep them growing and don’t put them in a cool dark place unless you are really set on forcing them to bloom at a certain time of year. Since this is something I don’t care about, my bulbs have tended to bloom in the Spring.

Update: Because I leave my bulbs in the ground until after the first or second frost, the leaves are all dead when I dig up the bulbs. Technically this puts them into a period of dormancy. When I dig them up, I clean up the entire bulb by removing dead leaves and stripping off the dead  layers from the bulb. I also trim the roots so that they fit in the smaller pots. Then I start watering them normally. Yes they are technically dormant, but most of the bulbs will start growing leaves within a couple of weeks of being potted up from the garden. I still don’t worry about dormancy, but I’ve come to realize that my process allows the bulb a period of rest before the next growth period.

Amaryllis bulb ready to be planted
This amaryllis bulb is one I cleaned up, trimmed off dead leaves, and pruned the roots so that they would fit in a gallon pot. Technically you would call this entering a period of dormancy, but it sprouted new leaves within a very short time.

The Process Still Works!

I’m happy that my process still works and 2023 (into 2024) is going to be another year to have a jungle of amaryllis blooms. As I write this I have nine bulbs producing flower buds. A tenth one bloomed (described and pictured above) right after I brought it in the house. And several of these bulbs bloomed when they were planted in the garden. Yes, two blooms in the same year is possible. The bulbs that are left are the smaller ones but I am not ruling out that some of them will bloom this spring. Give reblooming your amaryllis a try!

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