Growing Amaryllis

The foliage appears after the flower stalk

By: Sandy Feather 2009
Penn State Extension

Q. I bought a couple of amaryllis bulbs before Christmas. Three months later, I have lots of foliage but no flowers. Should I just throw my amaryllis on the compost pile?

A. Amaryllis bulbs generally push up flower stalks shortly before their foliage starts to grow. Because your bulbs are pushing foliage with no flower stalks, they are not going to bloom during this growth cycle. But do not be in a big hurry to throw them on the compost pile. You can grow them through them summer and hopefully enjoy that luscious flower display for this Christmas.

Amaryllis Failed to Bloom?

Amaryllis bulbs fail to bloom if they are too small or if they did not have a long enough rest/chilling period before you purchased them and started forcing them.
Now that you have foliage, you want to keep it growing well because the carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis will nourish the bulbs and provide the energy for next year's flowers and foliage. Once we are past danger of cold weather -- late May or early June -- put your amaryllis bulbs outside in a protected location. An area that gets morning sun and shade from the hot afternoon sun is ideal. Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro, Peter's 20-20-20, fish emulsion or liquid sea kelp, according to label directions.

Amaryllis bulbs usually push-up flower
stalks before foliage starts to grow


In mid-September, move the bulbs into a cool, dark location, and stop watering and fertilizing them. The foliage will stay green and healthy-looking for a surprisingly long time but will eventually die. Remove the dead leaves and allow the bulbs to rest in a cool (50 to 55F) area for 8-12 weeks. It is fine to leave them in their pots during this time. When you are ready to force them again, you may want to repot them into fresh potting mix. Clay, plastic or ceramic pots are fine as long as they have drainage holes. Amaryllis bulbs should be grown in pots an inch or two larger in circumference than the bulbs. Larger pots contain a greater volume of soil that will hold too much water and cause the bulbs to rot.

Proper Planting Depth for Amaryllis

It is also important to allow the top half of the bulb to stick out above the soil surface. If the bulbs are totally covered, they are likely to rot. Water the potted bulbs thoroughly, and do not water again until you see signs of growth. Once they start growing, allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out in between waterings. Stick you finger into the soil and feel rather than guessing.
Hopefully, the extra care you gave them through the summer allowed your amaryllis bulbs to grow and store up nutrients so that they bloom this time around.


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