Amaryllis: Another Look at Reblooming

You’ve heard me go on and on about how easy amaryllis are to rebloom (Rebloom Your Holiday Amaryllis). Well, I’ve gone to even another level of negligence this year that I need to tell you about.

Staying in Containers

In the many years since I’ve had amaryllis, I’ve been summering the bulbs buried in the ground. It’s my standard practice. This year I was so lax, the end of August arrived and all of them were still in pots. I kept thinking there was still time but finally succumbed to the truth. It was just too late to give them the room in the garden beds.

A few pots of amaryllis looking a bit ragged trying to get used to the intense sun. In the foreground is one of the young bulblets pushing up a flower stalk. It was the first of many to bloom during the growing season.

I put the pots in the full sun of the vegetable garden. I fertilized them a couple of times. They were watered with the sprinkler along with the whole garden. And, nearly every one of them bloomed outdoors! For some, this was the second time they had bloomed in a year. For some of the young ones, it was the first time they had ever bloomed. The last one bloomed so late, I finally brought it inside so the frost wouldn’t wilt it.

No Frost Exposure

This was also the first year that I brought all of them in when they still had leaves. Usually I wait for the frost to shrivel the leaves. Then I leave the bulbs in the ground for another few weeks: negligent procrastination is the key for the vigor of my plants. But not this year.

The temperatures did dip into the 30s, but it wasn’t cold enough to kill the leaves. So I hauled the dozen of them in and rearranged the shelves near the windows to fit them all in. This was when I decided I needed a new procedure.

It wasn’t easy trying to find room on the shelves. The one on the top shelf is showing some yellowing leaves. If this happens to you, don’t panic! I just remove the leaves and let the healthier leaves nurture the plant.
More pots, a few more yellowing leaves. Lots of repotting to do!

Root Trim

When I dig these bulbs out of the ground in the Autumn, the root mass is always too huge to even fit in pots. Well, that’s not really true, but I want all my bulbs in individual gallon pots so the roots always need a severe trim to even fit in so small a container.

With all the watering, and fertilizing, and most importantly, all the sun from our long days, the roots had filled the containers. Some of the pots were misshapen because of all the lush summer growth of these bulbs. I had never had this happen before because my bulbs had been in the ground.

There was only one thing to do. Repot everything.

A Different Procedure

I’m used to potting everything up in the Fall when I dig bulbs out of the ground. Now I had a new reason to repot. They were all too rootbound to continue in the same gallon pots.

Some pots had three or more young bulblets that were just starting out. They were rootbound too. The larger bulbs almost all had bulblets popping up, and these were the ones most likely to be nearly bursting the pot apart. One pot was so misshapen that I had to cut it apart. I could not get the bulb to come out of the pot!

The repotting procedure was the same Fall ritual, however. Remove the bulb, remove all the soil (save the soil and any trimmings to feed to the worms), trim the roots to a few inches, remove any leaves that are browning, and plant in a gallon pot with most of the bulb showing above the soil line. Leaving the bulb up so far will give the roots more room to grow. After a week or so, resume a fertilizing schedule of once or twice a month.

Probably not as many roots as would have grown if this bulb was in the ground, but still shows some vigorous growth!
After removing the potting soil, it was obvious that these roots needed a trim. Note the two bulblets that this plant produced. If the babies accidentally fall off, you can plant them separately. Otherwise just leave them attached and bury the bulb as you normally would.
Trim the roots to 2-3″ in length. They will be growing back in no time!

Results

You might be wondering what were the results of this new form of amaryllis negligence. I have to report that it is more surprising than I expected.

First, as I mentioned, almost all of the bulbs bloomed outdoors. They did this even after having bloomed indoors in either December or January. If you ever wonder if they can bloom more than once a year, here is your answer. As I write this, I found another bulb on my sunny shelf that is sending up a flower spike. And that bulb had definitely bloomed outdoors this summer, meaning it has bloomed twice in four months!

This is the third flower stalk since I brought in my thirteen pots of amaryllis.

Second, the small bulblets that were in their own pots more than doubled in size. One bulblet I received from a neighbor wasn’t even two years old and it bloomed outdoors. Another first for me. I’ve never had a bulblet bloom before. It kind of gives me hope for all the other amaryllis babies I’ve been nurturing over the years.

 

The first bloom outdoors was this young bulblet. This is an old variety that my neighbor gave me. It was from a bulb that had been in her family through two generations!

What’s Next?

Will I do this again? Probably not. At least not on purpose. I still prefer to put amaryllis in the ground or in a raised bed, and in full sun during the growing season. But I won’t worry so much about it anymore. I can’t always follow every planting schedule that I create in the Spring. Life happens, after all. Besides, gardening should be fun and relaxing. You shouldn’t be beating yourself up because you didn’t get everything done by a certain date.

I’ll still enjoy whatever flowers these bulbs choose to offer. Oh yeah, and did I mention I ordered a couple more? OK, I confess. I ordered four more. I haven’t had any double-flowering varieties in a few years. It’s about time to remedy that.

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