Help my Amaryllis bloom again

Lulu HoJuly 11, 2014

Hi, I purchased an Amaryllis back in December of 2011. It bloomed beautifully as you can see in the next picture.

Since then I've never been lucky enough to have it bloom again. That's over 2 years without blooms. It always has leaves on it. I never fertilized it and just kept watering it. It lived on the sill of a south facing window. I never knew if it had gone dormant, which I doubt, because it always had green leaves on it. I never took it out of the pot nor did I place it in a cool dark basement.

Last August, I moved from New York City where I lived and purchased the plant. I cut off the leaves and pulled the bulb off the pot and packed it in a plastic bag.

I now live in Panama City, Panama in Central America. It is hot and humid here most of the year. The night time temperature does not go below 72 here in the city. In the day it can be hot, up to 100 degrees. I planted the bulb after it spent about 4 months in a plastic container. It has tons of leaves now as you can see in the next picture.

I noticed that the leaves are not as firm looking and green as they were a couple of months ago. Does that mean that they are going to turn brown and fall off? I don't see any new leaves sprouting out. It's never had 7 on it at the same time either. I just started fertilizing it in the last two weeks with miracle gro all purpose plant food 24-8-16. I am watering it every other day very lightly, trying to keep it moist and not wet. It's in a balcony so it doesn't get rained on.

Keeping in mind that I now live in the tropics where the temperature is high all the time. My questions are:
1. Do I need to force it into dormancy? How is that done?
2. What can be done to make it bloom again?
3. I've read elsewhere that people put the whole pot with the bulb inside their refrigerator. If I choose to do this, when should I do it and what is exactly the procedure to follow? Do I cut off all leaves or wait for them to drop naturally? Do I make a straight cut across to have a cleancut? how far down? Can I put it (bulb planted in pot) inside a plastic bag before I place it in the fridge? How long should I keep it there? and what do I do when I bring it out?

Bottom line, will it ever bloom again?



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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

The first message on the list contains the frequently asked questions, and includes information on how to get your bulbs to bloom again. Living in a tropical climate is no different than many of the people on the list who live in places such as Vietnam and other spots that are warm. I myself live in Texas, where we have three very warm seasons and one cool season. This year was very cold!. The beauty of Amaryllis is that there are ust as many ways to do things as there are people who grow them.

If it were me, first I'd enjoy that gorgeous view out the window as much as I could every dayâ¦preferably with a glass of wine. In the autumn, I would stop watering the bulbs and let the leaves die back. I would then trim them up cutting straight across the neck just above the shoulders. Be sure to dust the cut with Caspian or cinnamon.

Many people do not cut their bulbs, but I do. Wide open necks gives ample room for the new leaves to come out when they start to regrow.

I would then place the entire bulb and its pot in a cooler place in your home. A closet should do. Refrigerators are not optimal as sometimes there are fruits that give off gas, which will cause the blooms to abort, or there may be cold spots in the refrigerator and your bulb could be damaged. A cool dark closet should be just fine for 6 to 8 weeks. After that take it out set it in the window and give it some water. Keep it on the dry side until you see green. These bulbs love to rot if they're kept too wet.

I myself have several hundred bulbs, and only about half bloom every year. That means that there are half that don't bloom every year and some that don't bloom for a couple years at a time. There are no guarantees, and unless you buy new bulbs every year, it's hard to predict re-forcing blooms. If you put your bulbs out on the balcony so that they get lots of good sun and water, they should go into their own normal cycle of blooming in the springtime. I can fairly well predict that mine will bloom naturally March through June. I suppose your cycle would be six months different.

Hope that helps!

This post was edited by kaboehm on Sat, Jul 12, 14 at 6:59

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:40PM
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Lulu Ho

Kristi, thanks so much for the advise. There are only two seasons here, A dry season Dec-May (there is minimal rainfall and low humidity with daytime temperatures in the mid 80's) wow I did move back to paradise! A wet season Jun-Nov (it rains frequently and humidity is high with daytime temperatures going up to 100). That being said, when you suggest I stop watering to let the leaves die back in the Autumn, you mean around September?

There is no cool dark closet here, I could place it in the mechanical room where the AC evaporator and air handler are, or in the laundry room where it's still 80 degrees?

From January to May there's no direct Sunlight on my balcony, only bright daylight, will that matter?

What months do you think my blooming cycle would be?

One other question, since I doubt I'll find a nursery that sells bulbs here, if I were to grow Amaryllis from seeds, how long does it take before you can actually see it bloom if all goes well?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:28PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Luis, I didn't pull up a map to confirm that you are in the Northern Hemisphere. If so, yes September. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, I always have to remember the "6-month rule". September is the start of autumn for me, but I have friends in zones where March signals the start of autumn.

It's there a way to construct a small attractive shade structure with screen to provide some shade? My bulbs' summer growing area houses a shade structure for that reason.

Just be a bit creative and I bet you'll be rewarded with blooms!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 7:08AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Hi Luis!

I think a mechanical room may still be to warm. If not cool, how about just a little cooler? The refrigerator is an option, but I'd probably take them out of their pots to save space. Do a search on this forum for bananas and you'll find the list of fruits that you need to steer clear of in the refrigerator.

With really good care, you'll have blooms in about 3 years from seed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:17AM
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I seem to have better luck with my amaryllis when I fertilize them. Use a fertilizer for blooming plants. Apply with every other watering. Do this only between the time they bloom and the dormancy period. At least when they have nice healthy green leaves.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 12:11PM
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Lulu Ho

Thanks Letta for your input, I started using a fertilizer recently 10-52-10 from Miracle Gro, 2 weeks ago. Before that I was using a 24-8-16 from Miracle Gro as well. All I seem to be getting is tons of leaves. I hope that means the bulb will grow bigger and stronger and give me supersize flowers when it does bloom. I now have 9 leaves on the plant. here's an updated picture, pretty boring...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 6:44PM
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Lulu Ho

Hello all, I am posting some updated pics. It's been over a month and a half and my Amaryllis continues to send out more and more leaves. There are now 16 leaves on it, another new one coming out in the middle. But it looks like it's growing some to the side and a small bump has appeared on another side as well. Is the bulb dividing or having baby bulbs?

In this picture you can see that there are some smaller leaves on the right side. And on the left if you look inside that loop, there's more leaves waiting to come out, I think.

Here's a view of the inside of that tiny loop. Are those more leaves or will there be a flower stalk coming somewhere? Why is it growing on the side of the bulb and not in the middle amidst the leaves?

Can someone please tell me what these are?



    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Hi Luis,

Your bulb is producing offsets (baby bulbs) on the left and right sides.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 4:21PM
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Lulu Ho

Thanks Blanca. Will I ever see it bloom again?... Is there anything else I can do to encourage blooming? I don't think it's feasible to force it into dormancy. I would have to cut off all leaves and put the whole thing in the fridge. I live in the tropics. so hot humid all the time.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 5:06PM
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Hello again Luis,

I hope that some of our friends who live in tropical climates will see your message. My hunch is that your bulb will bloom again on its own (someday). If you want to hurry the process along, the best advice will come from people who are successful in getting their bulbs to bloom repeatedly under similar environmental conditions. I think that Xuan in Vietnam needs to refrigerate her bulbs, but there may be others who have devised alternative; yet viable methods.



    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 5:40PM
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have a look at posts of garyfl in the link below (florida forum). he says his in pots outside grow like crazy (same as yours), but rarely bloom. but cutting off the leaves and repotting seems to trigger the blooms. he does that in jan and apr-may they bloom(in so fl june is the beginning of hot rainy season which last thru nov, same as yours). so fl has cooler periods in dec-feb, but last few winters were warm, so temps most days were in the 70s, but nites drop into 60s. and occasionally into 50s, but even at those temp the bulb continues to grow leaves.
perhaps you can try cutting off leaves in jan and repotting again - to see if it works next spring?

Here is a link that might be useful: so-fl z10 amaryllis posts

    Bookmark   October 6, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Hi Luis -
You don't need cold to initiate bloom, just stop watering.
When you decide your want your plant to experience "winter", stop watering. Think of it this way - you have a rainy and a dry season. When the dry season comes, it is the tropical equivalent of winter and even the indoor plants need to dry out. The leaves will die and it will kill you not to water the thing but be strong! Feel the bulb and you will see, it is firm and has plenty of moisture but your goal is to get the leaves to all die down.

After at least half the leaves have dried and died, you can start watering again. You also need to give that baby a little more root space. After the dead leaves are all trimmed or pulled off is a good time to do this. Plant it in some new soil in a pot about 8 inches in diameter and 8 inches high (uh, make that 20 cm or so) I would let 2-3 months go by without watering. About 3 months after you have repotted and start watering again, you should have flowers.
Lived in Hawaii for a while and this worked there. It is a little cooler there, though.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2015 at 4:12PM
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>>>You don't need cold to initiate bloom, just stop watering. Yes and no.
The elongation of the (already preformed) scapes within the bulbs is triggered by a period of LOWER TEMPERATURE, which means below 20ðC, and perfectly but not in the least necessary 13ðCelsius, respectively. During this time the consumption of water is, not surprisingly, reduced. To Zero only if the leaves are cut, which is a condition for the mass-storage of bulbs, but not necessary for single specimens. Unpotting is, contrary to Popular Myth, not either necessary not or in the best interest of accomplishing "great performance"

This post was edited by haweha on Sun, Jan 11, 15 at 17:55

    Bookmark   January 11, 2015 at 5:51PM
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But just look at that teeny tiny square pot! Those strapping leaves are begging for slightly more root space doncha think?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2015 at 11:05PM
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