Divide Amaryllis

phoenixryanFebruary 3, 2009

Hello. I'm kinda new to these forums, but was hoping someone here might be able to provide me some advice.

I have a large pot of amaryllis that is growing wonderfully and dividing constantly. This pot has THRIVED on neglect. It sits next to my lawn, and gets sprayed by the lawn sprinklers. It basks in the Phoenix summer sun (highs of 110+), and continues growing on throughout the winter (lows dipping below freezing). These things are pretty much indestructible!

My problems comes in that over the few years I've been neglecting them, they've divided so many times the pot is FULL. I'd like to divide the pot and free up some space for them to keep doing their thing. However, they never go dormant. Will I kill them if I try to divide them while they're growing? I'm sure the pot is just one huge tangle of roots by now. Should I just leave it alone?

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about a plant that is happy and well-adjusted, however, I do want to do what is in the best interest of the plant.

Any advice will be appreciated.



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ryan820(z5b Denver, Colorado, USA)

Hi Ryan--

I'm Ryan, too ;o) The purpose of a bulb is several-fold but one of them being a storage device should they need to go dormant or face hardship and need to weather a bad situation (kind of like a nice fat savings account in a trouble economy-- don't we all wish!). So all this to say, don't worry about hurting them. If your treatment of them continues as is, then they should bounce back and be fine.

One thing that does concern me, though, is the freezing temps. I'm not one to argue results, but these plants are not necessarily frost-freeze hardy. So you may have just gotten lucky or they are just really tough- or a mixture of the two. Also, here in Colorado, I have noticed that if the sun is allowed to heat the pot too much, I suffer root loss. At 110F, I'm amazed you haven't suffered the same fate. Is this pot really thick and heavy?

Anyway-- divide away-- I think you'll find you won't have many, if any, issues.

Can you post of a pic of the flowers? Would you be interested in trades?


Ryan (or should I call myself Denverryan?)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 2:03PM
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Hi Ryan,

Thanks for the info. I'll give it a shot, see what comes of it. The pot is a plastic rectangular pot, just your average plastic pot from Home Depot. I'll see if I can post a picture this evening. There is a clump at each end of the pot, what I may do is just divide one clump, see how they do, so I won't lose all of them if something goes wrong.

I'd be more than happy to trade. I don't have a name for them, they're just red.

I had another terra-cotta pot with an emerald amaryllis, that also won't go dormant, it gets a bit more shade than the larger pot, and hasn't divided nearly as much. I pulled it out of the pot in the fall and dropped it into the ground.

I too am surprised at how well they do all summer and winter. I've purposely left them out in freezing temps to try to get them to go dormant since we really don't get cold enough to freeze the bulb, just the foliage. All the other plants around them were frost-bitten, but not them. They must be some really super-hardy freaks of nature.

Ryan II

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 3:01PM
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ryan820(z5b Denver, Colorado, USA)


I understand about the freezing. I can leave my bulbs outside pretty late into October before hard freezes have a chance to hurt them. I attribute this to our very low humidity (as I'm sure you guys experience a similar thing). In order for cold temps to do their damage there must be enough water present to create enough crystals. When these crystals form, they're jagged and unyielding and puncture cell walls-- this is why foliage will take on a dark, wilted look when they freeze. The cells have essentially spilled their guts. With all that said, if I leave my pots fairly dry, not only are they relatively insulated but the limited amount of water limits the damage freezing can do.

I'd love to see a photo of the flower if or when you get the chance. I have several bulblets (off-shoots that are not yet blooming size)-- but stupid me never labeled them and when I moved they got all mixed up. So if you want to trade one of your bulbs for a surprise one of mine, I'm down with that :o) I'd like to wait until the Spring though, for risk of freezing the bulbs in transit.



    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 3:47PM
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Hi Ryan,

I tried to locate a photo of blooms years past, but no luck. Thats the downside of digital photos, they get lost on a cd somewhere... I'll be sure to get a photo this year! I'd still be up for trading, and it will be a surprise for both of us!

As for dividing, should I remove the existing foliage from the bulbs? how about the existing roots (I know I'm going to have to cut through a mass of roots just to free each bulb, but do I remove them all?) do the cuts need to dry out before I replant them? I'm used to bulbs that have gone dormant, so its easy to remove the old dried out bits.

I will probably divide them this weekend. I'm afraid if I wait any longer I may cut off a bloom. I can store one in a cool dry dark place for you, until its a better time for you to receive it.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 9:50PM
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ryan820(z5b Denver, Colorado, USA)


I'd leave the leaves on and when separating the root mass, I find a hose nozzle on the end of a hose REALLY helps to untangle and preserve the roots as much as possible. The more roots the better they'll do. Having to make broad, indiscriminate cuts to get workable clumps is ok-- but once that happens, try to preserve the roots as best you can.

As for drying, I'm not sure what is best. I imagine some drying wouldn't be a bad idea but would dust the roots with anti-fungal powder when replanting-- just to be sure.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:01PM
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Ok, I separated the first clump. I got a total of 14 off what was once just a single bulb. Not too shabby. Ryan, your suggestion of using the garden hose to help separate them worked brilliantly. Was able to just gently jiggle them to loosen them without ever having to make a cut.

Hopefully those look ok? I didn't screw them up too badly?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 8:08PM
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They look great! I'd let them dry for a day or two, sprinkle them with an anti-fungal powder, and pot them up again! Depending on the pot size, you could probably put 3 or more to a pot for some wonderful displays next time they bloom!

Good luck with them!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 9:19PM
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