January 06, 2015

How do you care for an Amaryllis after it blooms?

Amaryllis after-care: nice blooms, now what?


I've seen many beautiful pictures in person and via social media of Amaryllis blooms over the past Christmas holidays and what's not to love? (Note: the correct name for these bulbs forced to bloom over Christmas is Hippeastrum but since the buying public still refers to the plants as Amaryllis, I'll use "Amaryllis". You can delve into the nomenclature back and forths on the wikipedia Hippeastrum link.) Big and gaudy red and/or white blooms borne on tall stems add to the festive feeling along with the ubiquitous poinsettias. But like the moments after the Christmas presents are opened, things are a little anti-climatic. Your Amaryllis bulb has done what it's programmed to do, the petals have dropped and now you're left with a green stick.

Now what?


Apple Blossom Amaryllis Hippeastrum Allan Gardens Conservatory by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Apple Blossom" Amaryllis (Hippeastrum
at the Allan Gardens Conservatory


Instead of chucking out the spent bulb, you could follow the steps below and hope your Amaryllis re-flowers (reading over these steps, it seems to me quite reasonable to ensure more blooms next December but there is work involved!)

But let's enjoy some of the blooms I caught digitally at the Allan Gardens Conservatory recently as part of its annual Christmas Flower Show. (These are just four cultivars among the dozens available in stores and mail order.)




Charisma Amaryllis Hippeastrum Allan Gardens Conservatory by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Charisma" Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)
at the Allan Gardens Conservatory


Prelude Amaryllis Hippeastrum Allan Gardens Conservatory by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Prelude" Amaryllis (Hippeastrum
at the Allan Gardens Conservatory



Aphrodite Amaryllis Hippeastrum Allan Gardens Conservatory by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Aphrodite" Amaryllis (Hippeastrum
at the Allan Gardens Conservatory




Hymenocallis littoralis Spider lily Allan Gardens Conservatory by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Hymenocallis littoralis (Spider lily) 
at the Allan Gardens Conservatory

I included this Spider Lily in the post because it was blooming and it is in the same botanical family as Hippeastrum. (You can see easily how its common name came about.)


Stage 1: Ensuring the bulb gets fed before forced dormancy (for Northern gardeners)


  • after the flowers fade, cut off stalk to about 1-2" above bulb
  • leave the foliage alone as the bulb needs to replenish food reserves
  • place plant in a sunny location
  • feed with houseplant fertilizer every 2-4 weeks
  • once frost is gone from your area, gradually harden or acclimatize the plant from a shady to sunny location
  • leave the plant outside all summer and fertilize regularly
  • in mid-September, bring it indoors

Stage 2: Tricking the bulb to rebloom by forcing it to undergo dormancy (the really fun and tricky part!)

  • place plant in a cool (50-55 degrees F) and semi-dark location for at least 8 weeks
  • do not water or water very sparingly
  • cut off dead foliage
  • after 8 weeks, re-start the growth cycle
  • place bulb a sunny and warm (70-75 degree F) location
  • keep soil moist 
  • fertilize every 2-4 weeks

With a bit of luck, you should see new leaves appear and, ideally, the flower shoot.


If all of this seems daunting and messy, you can skip all the above, throw everything into the compost bin, and buy new and already dormant Amaryllis bulbs next December. 

It's best to know our limitations in these matters, would you not agree?