Advise on potting Amaryllis

br33September 29, 2011

This is my plan. Give me your advice on each pot.

2-2 gal pots - 3-30/32cm Amaryllis bulbs in each pot. Pot no.(1)Only Miracle Gro potting soil W/6 mo. slow release fert. Pot no (2) 60% Natures Helper 20% peat 20% Perlite. fish and seaweed fert. every 2nd watering.

Pots will be in open hot house until outside temp. goes to 45%. Pots will be on heating pad at 75 to 80 degrees???

Bottom water -yes or no?


PS My 1st try at pot growing Amaryllis

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'd say NO on the bottom watering. I just made this observation yesterday at another popular forum site when someone suggested bottom watering:

"I'd like to talk about bottom or wick watering for a second. I never use it for two reasons. The first is that in order for wick watering to work well, the soil has to be water-retentive to the point that by its very nature (its physical properties) it has to be limiting (to growth and vitality). The best soils for containers are those that need watering very frequently. These soils ensure there will be lots of air in the soil and very little perched water, which is the water that occupies the soggy layer of soil at the bottom of the pot that always occurs when you use heavier soils. Second, watering by immersion or wicking ensures that all or a significant fraction of the soluble salts in the water remain in the soil. This inhibits the plant's ability to absorb water and nutrients dissolved in the water, and also contributes to the probability of spoiled foliage.

Properly watering from the top, on the other hand, ensures that you're flushing accumulating salts from the soil each time you water. It also ensures that the ratio of nutrients YOU select and want to supply remains unskewed because you'll be replacing nutrients with regular fertilizing instead of simply adding to what is already in the soil."

Jodi is our resident Amaryllis authority. I'll go get her, but I'm pretty certain she'll try to discourage you from using the MG soil (she's been there) and switch to a very open soil made from coarse ingredients. The bulbs just don't tolerate perched water well, and the soils you mentioned are going to retain a considerable amount. There ARE tricks you can use to help the pots drain, but it's a LOT easier to just start with a soil based on large particulates instead of peat.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 3:18PM
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Thanks, I hope to hear from Jodi, I want do it right,I have 27 bulbs. I want to start 2 pots every 2 weeks with three to five bulbs in eash pot.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 9:03PM
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Hey, there! Terribly sorry I'm late... I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the forums lately.

Top watering is definitely preferred. You never want a bulb to sit in constantly wet conditions. It's very important that the medium you choose is able to drain well, drain quickly, and allow for the proper exchange of oxygen and gases to and from the root zone.

My recommendations for potting Hippeastrum bulbs, commonly called Amaryllis, is to begin by carefully considering the length of time you want to keep them in one pot of soil between re-pots. Now, everyone's climate and individual environment will differ, but bulbs in general are sensitive to over watering and perched water.

I've been growing Hippeastrum bulbs indoors for well over 10 years, and I've run into problems using plain, prepared, bagged soils and trying to bend organic growing to a container environment. It simply doesn't work.

We tend to water when the soil feels relatively dry to our sense of touch, but we can't really get a feel for how moist it still is way in the center of the rootball. That center area can remain moist long after the upper and outer soil areas are completely dry.

I would follow tapla's advice and build a medium using larger particles for the majority of a mix, then add a tiny bit of good quality potting soil just to help maintain the right amount of moisture.

Proper drainage and decent air flow to the root area will ensure healthy roots. The medium you choose will set the tone for how successful your growing endeavors will be.

The link below contains absolutely the best in medium information.

Once you've carefully considered the medium you'll use, keep in mind that growing in the ground and growing in pots are two entirely different worlds. They each require a different course of action. The ground contains a living army of creatures, microscopic and otherwise, that work at decomposing matter into usable food for the plants. In a container environment, that army is not present, and cannot be maintained in a balance that will work for plant nutrition.

I would abandon the seaweed and any other organic methods and go with a liquid prepared fertilizer, such as Foliage Pro. Even Miracle Gro liquid will give you the right amount of measured nutrition in an immediately usable form for your plants. Organic methods are best saved for a garden/ground environment.

As far as when to pot the bulbs up for continuous bloom, that part I cannot help you with. I grow my Amaryllis bulbs more as nature intended, just like other houseplants, allowing them to bloom and grow as they see fit. My bulbs tend to bloom in spring and summer, followed by a period of growth to re-energize the bulb, followed by a period of rest.

I really hope the link below will help you determine the best course of action for getting the most out of a medium. It helped me immensely when I was having rot and fungus issues with my bulbs.

There's also a wealth of bulb information in the Amaryllis/Hippeastrum forum when it comes to scheduling your bulbs for bloom times.

The best of luck to you! If I can help further, I'd be happy to. :-)

Also, bottom heat is a good thing, but really only necessary for seed starting or bulbs that tend to want to sleep instead of wake up from a dormancy. Purchased bulbs are generally in dormant mode when you get them, and potting them up, watering, and sunshine and warmth all conspire to awaken them and force them into growth. I usually save the heating pad/bottom heat for those errant bulbs that want to sleep beyond their normal dormancy periods.

Air circulation will be of great importance in a greenhouse environment, so make certain you have good flow with fans and such.

But I think you'll find that choice of medium will be of the utmost importance as your bulb growing progresses. I grow mine in a very bonsai-like, larger particled medium. The roots like it so much better than the usual soggy soils that the retail market sells. I always top water, and I always feed a weak, diluted solution of fertilizer as I water... backing off slightly while the bulbs are dormant. I would say that I treat my bulbs more as succulents than as the industry information allows for... remember, the industry wants to sell bulbs, so the quicker your purchases need replacement, the better for the industry.

Hippeastrum bulbs can be kept and re-bloomed for many, many years of enjoyment as long as they remain healthy. Rotting and insect damage will be your greatest foes, and rotting happens when the root ball is kept too moist and is not allowed to dry out sufficiently between waterings. It's very easy to literally drown the roots by over watering.

I would also suggest doing a lot of reading on the various methods that people use to grow and force dormancy of these bulbs... take it all with a lot of common sense and a huge grain of salt. You'll be able to pick and choose from everything you read, and a method and schedule that will work for you and your environment will form. And like I said, I'd be happy to offer help should it be needed. These are such lovely bulbs with incredible beauty... it's a fantastic hobby!

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

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 10:23AM
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THANKS I plan to put the bulbs outside next spring after danger of frost has passed. I have 30 bulboutside that are 7 years old and doing well. One last question. Should I seperate them. If so when and how do I seperate them.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 4:52PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I do separate my bulbs and pot them for at least the first year, before planting in the garden. When they are dormant I can run my fingers around the bulb and if a reasonably large new bulb is found I will separate it from its mother. Al

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 1:42PM
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Thanks Al. Do you dig it up to seperate it. What is reasonably large? Bill

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 10:02PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

br33, no I do not dig up the mother bulb in the garden to take the baby from it. I like the baby to be at least nickle size. Al

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 9:57AM
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Thanks, I think I got it. (1)Take the baby from mother bulb (2)put it in pot with root harmone and grow in pot until ready to go outside. O K ?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 12:23PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

br33 I only use hormone on cuttings, where the object is the formation of a callas which helps new roots grow. It also contains a fungicide which helps prevent rot. If a bulb is damaged before planting I would dust with sulfur. Al

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 9:13AM
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I broke off a baby the size or a quarter today, no roots on baby. I put baby in potting soil and covered with 1/2 in. of soil and wet it. what next. Did I do it right?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 9:54PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Jodi has posted detailed care of potted Amaryllis which should answer all your questions. Al

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 9:07AM
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For the potted baby bulb, a little bottom heat wouldn't hurt. It might encourage root formation a little faster than normal. Just keep the soil slightly moist, but not overly wet, give it some nice dappled sunlight, and roots should form in due course.

For future reference, I usually separate the youngsters from the mother bulb after they begin to develop their own tiny set of roots. But Al is right, too... you can take them sooner. For me, it's just easier to wait until the babies have roots and are able to thrive on their own.

You can also leave the daughter bulbs attached to Mom and just re-pot the group together into a larger container. If you're separating from garden planted bulbs, you can dig the clump at the appropriate time of year and just break them apart... they come apart easily... and then replant, giving them some space to continue growing without being crowded.

Hippeastrum bulbs are fairly easy to grow, as long as you are careful about preventing too much moisture for too long a period of time. Honestly, it's better to err on the dry side, if you err at all.

I'm in the north, so these are tender bulbs for me. I only wish I could grow them in the garden!

A word of caution about insects... the Narcissus Bulb Fly absolutely loves Hippeastrum bulbs, and will devastate a collection in short order! If you Google this pest, you'll see that it's a small bee-like fly...

This, from the Pacific Bulb Society's website:

"A single egg is laid at the base of the leaves during late spring/early summer where it hatches a few days later. The larva crawls down the leaf to the bulb where it normally enters through a hole it makes in the basal plate and begins to feed on the bulb. Although less common, the larva can enter the bulb through a hole it makes in the side of the bulb or through the very tip. Usually there is only one larva per bulb per season but more than one is not rare..."

More information at the link below...

To prevent damage, I use a generous helping of a granular systemic that both feeds and prevents insects. Bayer makes a good product for this purpose. It's a blue container, and I believe the name is Bayer 2 in 1 Systemic Rose & Flower Care.

I'd prefer not to use chemicals, but I enjoy my bulbs too much to risk another devastation. Last year, the tiny bulb flies somehow got inside my home, and I ended up losing a lot of very lovely and expensive Amaryllids and other tender bulbs. They could have come in on a plant, or snuck in through a crack or through a screen... I don't really know how. All I know is that I noticed a few bulbs shrinking, and when I checked them, they contained ugly little white larvae that had eaten most the bulb flesh.

Not only were my bulbs devastated, I was, too. That's one of the reasons I haven't been really enthusiastic about "talking bulbs" lately.

I managed to salvage some, and I quickly gave everyone a good dose of systemic to prevent anything else from happening. I don't want to freak anyone out, or anything... but just be aware that this can be an issue if the NBF lives in your area of the country. The tough part is that they're not really very noticeable, so you might not see them. You'll only know after the damage has been done. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, they say.

It sounds like you have everything pretty much under control... enjoy your beautiful bulbs! :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: NBF Information

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 2:01PM
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THANKS so much to Al and Jodi for your help.I feel that I can now grow my bulbs with confidence. I know I`ll make mistakes but now I will have a working start and know where to go for help. THANKS THANKS and GOD BLESS Bill

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 2:42PM
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