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Sandy's Gardening Columns

Starting
Amaryllis
from Seed

By: Sandy Feather
2007
Penn State
Cooperative Extension

  
Q
. I have an amaryllis that is finished blooming. Now there are two large seed pods at the tip of the flower stem. Can I save these pods and start new amaryllis plants from them? How should I go about it?
  

A. You can start new amaryllis plants (Hippeastrum spp.) from the seeds contained in those pods. It will take the resulting bulbs anywhere from three to five years to reach blooming size. Since the amaryllis bulbs that are typically sold for the holidays are hybrids, not all of the offspring will be the same as the parent plant.
  

 

The seed pods should mature in four to six weeks after the flowers have been pollinated. Allow them to ripen on the plant. They are ready when the pods begin to yellow and split open to reveal rows of dark brown or black, winged seeds. The true seeds are enclosed in papery sheaths, and are slightly larger than a poppy seed. If you rub them gently between your thumb and forefinger, you can feel the tiny seed inside. Remove the winged seeds from the pods, and allow them to dry for a few days before planting.

Amaryllis


PLANTING:
Plant them immediately in a flat or small individual pots. Be sure the container(s) has drainage holes so that the planting medium does not become waterlogged. Use a soilless seed starting mix, and barely cover the seeds. Place the flat or pots in a bright area that does not receive direct sun. Keep the planting medium moist, but never sopping wet. The seedlings should start to germinate in three to four weeks, appearing as tiny, grass-like leaves. As they germinate, move them into more sun.

TRANSPLANTING:
Once they get larger, you should transplant the seedlings to individual pots if you started them in a flat. You can place them outdoors in a protected location for the summer, once we are past all danger of frost. An area that gets good morning sun and shade from the hot afternoon sun is ideal. Allow them to dry slightly between waterings, but never to the point of wilting. You can use a water-soluble fertilizer such as Peter's 20-20-20, fish emulsion or liquid kelp, according to label directions. Remember, when it comes to fertilizer, more is never better - you could easily burn these young seedlings to death with too strong of a fertilizer solution. Move them back indoors before night temperatures fall below 50 degrees F. Unlike the mother bulb, do not give the seedlings a dormant period. Keep them growing through the winter by placing them in a south-facing window for the winter. Turn them periodically to keep them from growing lopsided.
   

Amaryllis stem
Turning the Amaryllis periodically
keeps it from growing lopsided

     
AFTER HARVESTING:
Allowing the mother bulb to produce seed has depleted much of its energy. If you want it to continue blooming well for you, take good care of it after harvesting the seeds. Remove the old flowers stalks carefully so as not to damage the foliage in the process. Those leaves will undergo photosynthesis, which provides the carbohydrate supply that nourishes the bulb and replenishes its energy reserves. Move the mother bulb outdoors with her offspring for the summer. Use a water-soluble fertilizer such as Peter's 10-30-20 Blossom Booster, Miracle-Gro, fish emulsion or liquid kelp through the growing season, according to label directions.

Amaryllis flowers
Huge Amaryllis blossoms!

THE MOTHER BULB:
Be sure to give the mother bulb an eight-week rest period in late summer or early fall before its winter flowering stage. If your amaryllis does not go dormant on its own, quit watering it to force it into dormancy. Remove the foliage after it yellows and dies on its own. Place the potted bulb in a corner of your basement or garage - anyplace where the temperature will not drop below about 45 to 50 degrees F - and forget about it. Do not water or fertilize during the dormant period. When you are ready for it to bloom again, move the pot into a warmer room (68 to 75 degrees F) and resume watering. The mother bulb should bloom in six to eight weeks. Do not resume fertilizing until it has finished flowering.

amaryllis


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