I cut my healthy leaves

telamin(z7 DC)September 16, 2008

Hello All

I've had two amaryllis plants for at least three years now. One at work and one at home. The one at work has grown well and blooms mutliple flower stalks. Last year it produced three little offshoots, this year it has produced two large offshoots.

I remember receiving advice about cutting my amaryllis's leaves to force dormancy, so I did that and placed it and it's offshoots in an empty file cabinet at work. I later read on SEVERAL web articles that you should never cut the healthy leaves. (oops!) The amaryllis whose leaves I cut most recently bloomed in the spring and has been receiving lots of sun and water all this time. The bulb is pretty healthy, will my having cut the leaves end in disaster after having this plant all these years?

I haven't touched my amaryllis at home, I'm just going to put that one in the basement. It's not in happy place this year because it didn't bloom.

Any advice you can provide is much appreciated.


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Hippeastrum bulbs are pretty resilient and adaptable... I think the most you've done by cutting the leaves is thrown off it's bloom/growth schedule. What I would do, is take the potted bulb home and find a cool, dark place to let it sleep... like a basement or garage (anywhere that won't freeze)... and allow it to remain there for about 8 weeks. Do not water it, and tip the pot on its side as a reminder that you are withholding water. After 8 weeks, bring the bulb back into a warm, bright room and water it. Don't water it again until you see growth. Growth should begin within the following 6-8 weeks.

Since your bulb bloomed last spring, it may not bloom for the Holidays... it may not have had enough time in the sunlight to recharge and set buds... however, it should resume its normal bloom schedule next year. Have patience!

Typically, a Hippeastrum bulb is purchased in the fall, blooms for Christmas, and then proceeds to grow leaves so it can recharge itself for its next bloom cycle... that is, if it receives the proper amount of sunlight, water and fertilizer, and it remains healthy. Many people will force dormancy on their bulbs at the end of summer so they can enjoy blooms for the Christmas Holidays.

There are a few different ways to put a Hippeastrum bulb through a dormant period... the most common way is to withhold water and place the potted bulb in a cool, dark location... such as a cool closet, spare room, basement, or a garage that doesn't freeze. Some will tip the pots on their sides as a reminder NOT to water. After approximately 6-8 weeks, the bulb is brought back into a warm room with good sunlight, watered, and within the next 6-8 weeks, growth should resume, and if the bulb was recharged properly, buds will appear.

I, myself, don't force my bulbs through a dormant period... I allow them to grow and bloom on their own schedule, and I treat them as I would any other houseplant. They normally rest at the end of summer, losing their leaves... at this point, I cut back on watering a bit, but I still treat them as regular houseplants.

Mine usually bloom in very early spring... my largest Minerva blooms in February. In the 8 years I've had my large Minerva bulb, she's bloomed faithfully almost every year... she did take a year off when I re-potted her out of season, and a second year off to rest... but other than that, she's been a joy to have growing on my east window sill!

I think the most that will happen to your bulb is a missed year of flowers... but if you treat it right, blooming should resume the following year... no real harm done.

If you'd care to do a bit of reading, there's a wealth of information here in the forum! You may just find that collecting these beauties has become a new hobby!

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 3:29PM
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dancacti(Melbourne, Aust zn10)

Hi Jodi, awesome response - thanks.

When you say that you repotted out of season - when exactly are you supposed to repot Hippeastrums? I assume when they go into dormancy i.e. the winter?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 1:59AM
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Yes... you are correct. Everything I've read about the container culture of Hippeastrum bulbs points to the dormant period as the best time to re-pot. It's less traumatic for the bulb to be disturbed during its rest.

When re-potting, keep a couple of things in mind... Hippeastrum bulbs require very good drainage, and they like to dry out a bit in between watering, so use a medium that will allow for excellent drainage. I always use unglazed clay pots because they are porous and "breathe"... this allows for excess salts to leach out, excess moisture to evaporate, and is healthier for the roots. If you live in a very warm climate, plastic pots may suit you as they won't dry out as fast, but be aware that the center of the pot may retain more moisture, and excess salts and minerals will need to be leached out every once in a while.

I've included a link at the bottom of this post to a very educational article on Container Soils... it's very much worth the read, especially for us "bulb folk"! It gives a wonderful explanation of the relationship between soils, water, and how healthy roots are grown in containers. I highly recommend reading it! The article taught me a lot, and because of it, I've changed my planting tactics, and have much healthier plants with healthier root systems!

I hope this helps! Happy Gardening!

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 5:49AM
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