Shriveled Bud on Amaryllis?

clarescifiFebruary 8, 2010

I have several amaryllises growing inside on a windowsill and most have sent up nice flower stalks with healthy buds, and one has already bloomed beautifully, with 2 nice flowers.

One of the yet-to-bloom amaryllises had a healthy-looking bud on it, but today I noticed it has gone all shriveledy. And the leaves on that plant have gone floppy. The foliage is about 12" tall.

Another one has leaves about 16" tall that have gone floppy. It has never sent up a flower stalk, only the leaves.

I have read that floppy foliage can be caused by lack of sunlight. However all the other amaryllises in the same area look fine and don't have floppy foliage.

These 2 plants that have gone floppy with their foliage have the tallest and most foliage of any of all my amaryllis plants, with the exception of one a friend gave me a year ago that never bloomed and has sent up only one leaf about 30" tall.

I have read that if an amaryllis plant sends up foliage first it is not likely to send up a flower stalk, at least in the first year. It's a sign the bulb is too weak.

But I can't find much about an amaryllis that produces a bud which then goes shriveldy. What do you think the cause of this most likely is? I don't think I have overwatered the pot nor underwatered it. Could someone have left the door open too long, exposing it to a draft, I wonder? It is on the end of the shelf nearest the door, though geraniums in the same area don't appear affected. Is the fact it's sending up so many more leaves and leaves of a taller height than the other amaryllises indicative of something? I checked the bulb of the amaryllis with the shriveldy bud and it appears firm and fine, not rotted, soft, or mushy. The roots look fine, too.

Does anyone know of a yahoo group specifically for amaryllis (hippeastrum) growers that might be able to answer my question?

I bought these bulbs at Rite-Aid. They are Buzzy Growing Kits. Rite-Aid no longer has them in stock. I wonder whether Buzzy might send me replacements for the bad bulbs? Has anyone had a good customer service experience with Buzzy?

Do you think that the amaryllis with the shriveledy bud could send up another strong and healthy bud that could bloom this season? And do you think the amaryllis with the sole leaf of 30" in height might bloom next year, or is the fact it has only one giant leaf a sign of some sort of disease that will keep it from ever blooming?

Thanks for your help.


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I called the company and they suggested I cut the foliage back to 1 1/2 to 2 inches and keep the plant in a cool dark spot for a minimum of 2 months (3 months maximum), and when I bring it out in to the light and warmth, after that time, it should force it in to blooming.

But other stuff I've read says to let the foliage grow as much as possible up until September, to get nutrients back in the bulb for next year.

Has anyone had success using the company's method?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 11:07AM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

NO NO NO!! What idiot company told you to cut the foliage? The foliage is what feeds the bulb to create more flowers, to put it very simply. Fertilize - give as much sun this summer as possible, bring in before frost (late summer/early fall). Aborted flower stalks (scapes) happen - sometimes we don't know why. Do read the FAQ.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 9:57PM
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Clare,Sometimes too much water can cause leaf droop and scape shriveling. It rots the roots. It is most likely though,that you have gotten a bulb which is stressed by being in storage too long,dry too long, or having the storage temperature drop too low,for too long a time.
Narcissus bulb fly can cause those symptoms too. There are quite a few entries on Garden Web about the larvae of this fly in Hippeastrum bulbs,and the treatments of the problem.
Cutting the leaves off is a part of a procedure for forcing a bulb to bloom,which has not yet put up a scape. Yours has already put up a scape and cutting the leaves off will only make it more difficult for the bulb to store energy and to form a flower scape for next seasons bloom. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 11:31PM
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Thanks for your help, everyone.

I read an old post that said an amaryllis plant needs to send up at least 8 healthy leaves in order to flower the following year. The fellow I talked with said that he had never heard of such a thing. Do we know whether or not this is true? For example, can an amaryllis with only one, very tall leaf flower the following year?

I'm glad I didn't cut off my plant with the shriveled bud! I guess that man thought I wanted only one bloom and then would throw away the plant, instead of understanding I wanted to preserve the bulb for future blooms. He said he'd never heard of nurturing the leaves through the summer for future blooms.

I should add that it never actually sent up much of a scape. The shriveled bud is about 3" long, emerged from the top of the bulb, without the stalk/stem of the scape yet showing. The bud has some vertical brown streaks on one side. So it aborted early, before the stalk poked up, even.

I wonder whether I could have overfertilized? I read that amaryllis likes soil a bit on the acid side so I diluted some African violet fertilizer 7-7-7 and poured it in the pot the amaryllis is in, after quite a bit of foliage had emerged, trying to be very careful not to get it on the bulb, just in the surrounding soil.

These 2 plants with the more lush and longer leaves might have gotten more of the fertilizer-water than my others that have shorter leaves, although I wouldn't think so, but it is possible. Could that explain the brown streak on the bud and its shriveling? The leaves don't have any brown on them.

The plant that has only several tall leaves of foliage is standing up by itself tonight. I had propped it against the bookcase, and when I move it, it no longer flops over.

The one with the shriveled bud has 2 leaves which stand up on their own tonight, but 2 other leaves still need to be propped up, because they will flop without the support.

If I did overfertilize and that caused the bud to shrivel, will that cause the bulb not to bloom next year, do you think?

Does the Narcissus fly tend to cause the phenomenon of an amaryllis with only one leaf? I thought I read that somewhere in the forum, but I'm not sure?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 1:31AM
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betonklotz(7b Baltic Sea coast)

Clare, the idea behind saying Hippeastrum need a certain amount of leaves to flower is that the flowering buds are predetermined to develop in the leaves' axis and not any axis but the one between a "normal" leaf and a "semisharing" leaf. These leaves come up regularly after three normal leaves and are on the same side as the leaf before, normally the leaves come pairwise left and right.
So per 8 leaves you should get 2 flower stakes ...

So in order to have a bulb flower of course lots of leaves are needed, but! the flower stakes we see have been developed in an axilary bud that has been there for some time. Then in the dormant period these buds are developed into flowering scrapes and they leave the bulb once the temperatures go up.
So your bulbs will still have some of these buds that will turn into flowers but aren't old enough.

So if you want a flower now badly, you might even go with the company's advice. But if you want your bulbs to do fine in future time, (perhaps they'll flower if you put them outside when the weather's fine, they get the change of cold night temperatures and develop the buds) you'll better care for your plants the best way possible now.
I'd repot them, often the problem is too moist soil that won't dry out fast enough.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 9:28AM
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e36yellowm3(7 Raleigh, NC)

I've had two scapes abort... one last year when I was a newbie I had used a non-draining pot and over-watered (as BK advised) and the other is actually happening now due to a bulb that was sent to me with the scape fully emerged - the shock of the shipping probably did it in.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 11:54AM
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Thanks for the good info, everyone.

So are you saying a bulb that sends up only one leaf has some sort of a problem and should be tossed? What would make it send up only one leaf, consistently, year after year? That Narcissus fly?

I bought an amaryllis bulb growing kit last month that had already sent up a scape that was about 8" tall with a bud on it. Didn't know whether it would bloom or do right (it was on clearance), but I took it out of the dark box, it greened right up and bloomed beautifully. It's still in bloom. I moved it to a cool room to prolong the flowers but notice the foliage is now pale and going floppy, so I'm thinking the foliage must need some sunlight? The cool room is dark.

I read not to buy kits that have already sent up a scape, that they tend not to bloom, but this one sure did. I debated over whether to buy it, so I'm glad I did.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 12:02PM
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purpleclover(CA Sunset 18)

I bought a Minerva in a box clearance just before Christmas. The little thing has the stubbiest scapes I can imagine, but it is blooming.

I'm going to let it do its thing with the blooms (which are looking kind of crazy at the moment), then probably repot it and set it outside when it warms up a bit and let it grow through my long growing season. Next year I expect it will bloom much better.

Clare, think of it as a multi-stage experiment. First, what did I get and how does it bloom straight from the mail order / nursery / kit. Second, what will it look like after a growing season with plant food and appropriate watering?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 1:51PM
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I think perhaps I should have mentioned that;if you want to know if a narcissus bulb fly has caused those larvae to be inside your bulb,then you need to pull the bulb out of the soil, clean it off, pull the outter layers of dark skin off,down to the white skin,all the way down to the roots.
if a hole, or holes, has been bored into the bulb,then you almost certainly have a partialy hollowed out bulb,from the NBF larvae. If you don't stop their feeding they will eat the bulb. There are methods,described in this forum,for doing so,or salvageing the bulb for producing new bulbs.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 10:42AM
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Thanks for the info about the Narcissus bulb fly. Is having just one tall leaf on an amaryllis bulb a classic symptom of that? What else could cause just one leaf (2 years in a row), if anything?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 2:14PM
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Clare,once in a great while Hippeastrum bulbs fail to perform,when there is no apparent reason for it. I have grown many thousands of them and it has only happened twice. One, I threw away.I can't remember which variety,but I had several others of it which did well. The other is Mrs Garfield, which sends up one leaf at a time and has gone dormant twice,without blooming, since I recieved it last fall.It is currently dormant.I haven't given up on it yet though,because it is known to be a little difficult to grow.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 3:16PM
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Thanks for the info on Mrs. Garfield. I looked her up, and she's beautiful! I think my amaryllis with the one sole leaf is a solid pink variety. I can't recall the name, but I'm sure it is a very common, but also very pretty, bright pink amaryllis. I sure wish I could coax her in to blooming next year. I notice tonight that she's still shooting up, but the top 2" of the sole leaf are a much lighter green than the lower 28" or so of the leaf. Why would that be, I wonder?


    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 3:29AM
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