Cutting bulbs - photo heavy

kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)November 28, 2011

With the weather we have here, leaves can turn into a mushy mess in a hurry! The days may be warm, but the nights are cold (now we are freezing) and so I elect to trim the leaves down, and once they have started to really decline and get mushy, they are peeled off each day until I am left with a bulb that is ready to clean up for the winter.

Here's a step by step demo. Sorry a couple of the close-up shots are a little fuzzy, but you can see what I'm talking about!



First, you saw that I trim the leaves down until they are about 8 inches long. They still are standing straight up.

As is gets colder, they start getting mushy...time to go. I usually just pull each off and toss it in the composting bucket.

I'm left with a pretty untidy bulb. The neck is a great place for extra moisture to hide...bug encourage rot and other problems.

I take my sharp knife (which goes back into the alcohol between each bulb)

Then I pick a spot on the neck...near the shoulders, but not too low.

Then quickly/cleanly cut all the way through.

After a quick inspection

Dust with Captan (some use cinnamon)

Some people can't find California, they don't sell it, but this is the product I use.

I have put mine in a spice shaker bottle as it's easier to control and I don't get any on my (be very careful when handling Captan). The opening of the spice bottle is the exact size to fit within the opening of the Captan container, so it makes refills very simple!

Within a couple of days, it's dried and ready to wait for spring blooms

This could have been a problem waiting to happen. Cutting just a little further down yielded clean results.

This is something I like to keep an eye on. I hate discovering an old brown skin in the middle of my bulb!

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Kristi, thanks for taking the time to take the pictures and posting them on here. Anyone that looks at your pictures can understand what to do. That's very helpful to those of us who are trying for the first time to get Amaryllis plants to rebloom a second season.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 1:36PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

With a little luck and patience, you'll end up being rewarded! It's a lot of work, but worth it!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 2:11PM
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Most excellent tutorial, Kristi, thank you for sharing your tips and techniques!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 2:27PM
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Who can argue with your obvious success!! I just love those "blooms in your greenhouse pictures"!!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 3:22PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Thanks all....all those necks had been cut down and you can see how they grow/elongate during the growing season...

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 3:34PM
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WOWZA, I am always in ah of your incredible success with these bulbs!!!

What's so funny is you do the opposite of what most suggest and look at your results, it really goes to show there is no "WAY" to grow anything and I love that you keep on proving it!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 11:45PM
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Kristi's success is proof that a green thumb is really all about knowledge and experience. She's put in the time and effort to learn, and she's taken into consideration that her climate and environment are rather unique to others, and that there's not always a one-size-fits-all solution to success... in other words, what works well for me may not work the same for Kristi. The same variables may not apply.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 4:18AM
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Kristi, why do you say: 'I hate discovering an old brown skin in the middle of my bulb!'? I also cutted my bulbs today and I had a few wich had also brown skin in the middle.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 11:06AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

The brown skin to one side or the other of the bulb is the point at which the last scape came up. Will be interested to hear why Kristi doesn't like it. I always learn something.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 11:16AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

As you see it's open...and it's just something you have to be careful of. I've also see bulbs develop rot there, probably because it's an opening into the heart of the bulb for bugs, water, etc. I like them all tight and green.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 1:41PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

One of our experts, Hans-Werner, says that leaving the leaves on after ceasing to water is futile, and can cause the bulb to shrink even. Do you agree with that, Kristi? My leaves are still on, and the bulbs are under fluorescents - and - I have stopped watering. Would it be advisable to do as you have done?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 2:49PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

I think the "ceasing to water" water is what causes the bulb to shrink, but I am not one to dispute Hans-Werner! Winter air is, by nature, much drier and that also contributes to bulb degradation; the air inside our heated homes is dry as well. When the bulb is dormant, I'm not sure that the leaves (moisture from the leaves) will plump it up too much. I know my leaves just automatically turn to mush this time of year. Warm days and frigid nights wreck the leaves in a hurry!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 3:19PM
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I have about 50 of my 200 +/- bulbs under lights with leaves in the basement too, and I do water them, but only about once every 3 or 4 weeks. Some of mine have multiple leaves and are continuing to send up new ones. Some of these bulbs insist on being evergreen and if that's what they want...but some have died back completely, so I let the bulbs that seem to want to continue to grow..continue to grow! I guess in my unorganized way, these are the bulbs that may bloom for me next summer. Kristi knows just what she's doing and has this down to a science plus she's got the greenhouse, which I don't have. My bulbs are all spread out all over the house, both floors, every window that I can stick a table in front of, very disorganized.

I had about 10 pots last year that kept their leaves Pink Diamond and Amsterdam among them..and they bloomed when they felt like it..when you get as many bulbs as we have, it's nice to be very organized like Kristi, and maybe another year I'll do what she does..especially if I don't have a respectable re-blooming.

My husband said yesterday "you mean to tell me with all these pots all over the place we might not even have anything blooming for Christmas"?!?! I gulped and said it's possible...!! :-(


    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 3:33PM
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Howdy y'all! and neighbor Kristi. Regarding leaving the leaves on... It is my theory that, ideally, I place a 2ft piece of bamboo as a stake next to the bulb, tying the leaves to the stake in a more-or-less upright position. In that way, the "juices" from the leaves drain into the bulb during the drying process. I primarily use this process on large Amorphophallus. But, it I have also used it on special Hippeastrum.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 5:34PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA) you throw the "SPECIAL" exception in. I may not cut leaves on the "special" ones!! Specials include Papilio, Gordie (some of the bigger bulbs...not all), my strapping seedlings that I am promoting growth on, and...I'm sure there are others...some had died back on their own and are sending out new leaves, I don't cut those back. BUT I'd say I cut back 95% (that leaves about 10 big pots untrimmed).

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 5:50PM
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Due to my climate, I grow my collection... what's left of it... in much the same manner as Donna. There are pots everywhere... in every window, and on every surface I can get close to a good light source. Some remain green through winter, and many rest, shedding their leaves.

I think the culture method we choose will be dependent upon our climates and the environment we have to offer our bulbs. I would probably lean more toward Kristi's methodology if I had a much milder climate. Organization, however, is not my general style. ;-)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 7:57PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

You guys are killing I'm careful and attentive! You make me sound like St. Kristi...patron saint of Hippeastrum (I rather like the sound of it). know what I attribute my success to??? The bulbs grow like weeds all spring, summer, and fall and rest all winter. That's it! I fertilize and treat systemically once a year when I set them out. When they are growing in the late winter/early spring they get Miracle Gro in the water. Other than that, I give them a fresh pot of soil every year or 2 (usually every other year)....and I sing to them when the moon is full.

So...hahaha....don't believe the last line....I sing to them every night. NOT!! Just the special ones! I was out in semi darkness cutting tonight, but the bulbs are up high enough in the pot that I could use the lip of the pot as an guide for the knife and didn't lose any fingers tonight.

You what works for you. At one point, I thought buying bulbs every year to get good blooms was the only way. Now I know if I want blooms in December/January, that's what I have to do, but Feb-June I have my own blooms....can't wait til then!
Hugs to your Hippis!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 8:35PM
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allstarsgymnast7(7, Southeast TN)

St. Kristi, Patron Saint of Hippeastrum! You're right, that does have a nice ring to it!

Last summer/winter/mid-spring, after moving back home from college, I kept my hippis inside on my window sill. Now, that didn't work out very well, haha. Good sun, but TERRIBLE space. So, I repotted and put them outside (even though I was super nervous to put them out there with all the little critters) for late spring and early summer. Let me just say I was SHOCKED at how much they LOVED it! I've never seen them grow so much! It made me happy that they were happy.

I know we live in different zones, but I feel like we have the same weather! The last week of October we had our first frost, so it was time to bring the hippis in the garage (no windows, stays relatively cool, and very dry). Last night, only about 5 weeks later, we had our first "snow" (I put snow in quotes because only the tippy, tippy, tops of the surrounding mountains got a very light dusting). But between the first freeze and the first snow, we've had two periods of the weather getting back into the upper 60s to low 70s! I was tempted to throw them back outside for those few days, but I knew I didn't need to throw them off.

This is my first time trying this method, and I'm a little nervous. The weather looks to be more consistent now... Lows in the 30s and highs in the 50s. So I know it's the right time for them to rest (they haven't really rested since I first got them in winter 2009). I'll have room for them inside when they're ready. Hopefully I'll get some blooms! I have a fear of killing them, but I don't think I'm that negligent; I check on them *every*day. What are they gonna do?! Run away??? Haha.

It's posts like this that take away some of my fears. :)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 2:47AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Sounds like the Hippis will do great Kate. Can't wait for photos of your "rebloomers" next spring! YAY!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 7:06AM
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