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.
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.
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Another reason I won’t keep my bulbs in pots is because when the bulbs did rebloom, they weren’t as spectacular. The consistent result with at least 3 of the bulbs, was a strong flower stalk, one flower opening and the rest of the buds following a week or two later. This resulted not in one stalk with four or five flowers spreading out all at once, but instead only one flower at a time. Not the best results from my perspective.
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.