Amaryllis has green leaves. What to do?

levadiaOctober 13, 2006

Last March I bought several bulbs at Walmarts. They didnt bloom, so I put them outside for the summer . The autumn is here, but they donÂt go dormant. The leaves are green and look very healthy. What do I do to make them bloom next March? How to induce dormancy, if needed?

This is my first-year experience with amaryllis. Thank you for your suggestions.

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Hi Levadia,

Dry them out and starve them! This may not seem plant friendly but it mimics the natural cycle of seasons in their native southern African habitat of origin. It works, too. I have to do it every year with my own amaryllids, and it's only failed to bring plants to bloom a few times, and any failed plant has always bloomed in the subsequent year. I have about ten amaryllises and some closely related plants in total, a large enough sampling, I guess, for "scientifically accurate" conclusions about what works for inducing and breaking dormancy. Anyway, I've read identical suggestions in a number of books and magazines.

The advice is to stop any feeding if you are still doing it, and stop all watering. You probably won't need to water again until new foliage and/or the bud starts to show in late winter or early spring. But if the bulb seems to get dessiccated to the point of shrinking a lot or appearing shriveled, I'd water lightly once or twice. I've read that they should be placed in a dark closet or room until they break dormancy, but I'm skeptical that that is either necessary or helpful, as their species counterparts would normally lie dormant under a pretty intense sun in southern Africa during wintertime. (Also, I find that anytime I stow a plant away in a closet or under the basement stairway, I either forget to check it occasionally for signs of disease or rediscover it in midsummer when it should have been planted months ago. I've lost a lot of plants that way.) I keep my amaryllises under a table in an otherwise brightly lit room and they come around fine.

I do believe it is necessary to keep them cool (southern African winters are chilly). When any of mine haven't bloomed during a particular year, they've usually been ones that were stored in a room that had warmer, ambient temperatures. But they have bloomed nicely when kept in a cooler room. The one I use has temperatures that are usually in the low sixties and sometimes even get down into the fifties.

A couple of other things I'll mention. You might try scratching a little bulb booster or similar fertilizer into the soil a couple of weeks or so before you anticipate the start of regrowth. You'll get a larger and better bloom. And if you never apply fertilizer, your bulbs will tend to get smaller and smaller each year. A dilute nitrogen rich fertilizer (fish emulsion is good)can be watered in or sprayed onto the leaves once in a while during the summer for healthier foliage, which in turn will feed more of the nourishment necessary for blooming into the bulb.

Also, I read a couple of years ago that if you put your amaryllis in subdued light when the stalk starts to develop you'll get a taller plant, as it will stretch upward in search of better light. I've tried this and it seems to work. Just be sure to turn it occasionally so it doesn't grow crooked, and move it to good light well before it gets too weak or floppy. But I advise a little caution, because I've observed that if you put it in really bright light too soon you sometimes get a really short stalk supporting a normal-sized big bloom, an effect that looks pretty silly, I think.

So just stop watering and/or feeding, move them into a cool spot if you have one, and reduce bright light. The leaves will quickly yellow (couple of weeks, maybe)and dormancy should follow.

Oops, here's an afterthought. Nearly any types of bulbs I've ever bought from Walmart (never bought any amaryllises) were inferior in size and quality and failed to bloom well or at all. That may account for your amaryllis's disappointing performance the first year. However, it's fairly easy to coax amaryllises back to good health over one year's growth cycle. Since yours have had good foliage growth, they should be in pretty good shape for blooming next year.

These flowers are a little tricky to bring into bloom only until you get a little practice, and the bulbs themselves are actually quite tough and hard to kill. The biggest problem I've had is giving them too much water when I start watering again after dormancy. At that time the roots seem to be somewhat susceptible to getting waterlogged and then rot sets in. Even then, they can still be saved if you back off on watering and let them dry out thoroughly for a week or two before resuming a more sparing watering schedule.

Well...blah, blah, blah, seems I'm always getting carried away on these forums. Hope all this isn't too much information.

And hey, best of luck!


    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 4:04PM
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Thank you so much for sharing your rich experience. I will follow your advice. Reading your essay was a real pleasure.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 8:15AM
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I just wanted to second what cransbill has said.
My first year, I stopped watering my Amaryllis in August, but left them outside. I thought they would go dormant by themselves with the smaller amount of water. They were still going gangbusters through Sept.
Now, if I remember, and I want them to bloom at Christmas, I bring them inside, stop watering mid-August. Then wait 8 weeks from the point they lose their leaves, then water and feed once till they begin to grow again. Naturally they don't always bloom on Christmas, but it has been known to happen. :o)

I space the first watering out with the different pots, I like to have them bloom from Dec. on. But most like to bloom in Feb/March no matter what I do.

And sometimes, I just forget to bring them inside early enough, I just don't think of bringing in bulbs till Sept. and so, on these years, they don't bloom anywhere near Christmas.

One thing to add to Cransbill post is, once they bloom, take them out of bright light and they will bloom longer.

Here are my 2 newest.
I belive this was taken in Feb.

Click on pic. for bigger pic.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 8:33AM
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