The flowers we know as amaryllis are actually various species of Hippeastrum, a tropical flower native to Central America and the Caribbean. The one you buy or receive as a gift may be red, pink, orange or white. It will grow to be 2 to 3 feet tall and have three or four blooms on its leafless stalk. By following the directions on the bulb's package or the plant's tag, you ensure you'll have a beautiful display. But what should you do afterwards?
While Your Amaryllis Is Flowering
The ideal spot for an amaryllis is a slightly cool (65° to 70° degrees F) room with indirect sunlight, such as a window in a north-facing room of the house. You can move your amaryllis to a central area for display, but if you want to prolong the flowering period you should put it back in a cool place. Be careful not to over-water, but don't let the soil dry out completely--it should be just damp.
After the Blooms Fade
Once the flowers have faded, cut the flower stalk off about an inch above the soil with a pair of scissors or a sharp knife. Do not remove any of the leaves. The amaryllis bulb needs 5 to 6 months of growth to restore its reserves and flower again the next year, so continue to water it regularly. You can also give it standard houseplant food according to the directions on the package. If you live in a mild climate, you can transplant it into your garden.
Bulb Care and Storage
In August you should stop feeding the plant and water it more sparingly. Gradually reduce the amount of water for three weeks, then stop watering entirely. The leaves should start to turn yellow. Let the leaves die back, then cut them off with scissors or a sharp knife. You can leave the bulb in its pot or you can take it out and shake the dirt off. Do not wash it--the bulb needs to dry out. The bulb now must be stored in a cool (50 to 60°degrees F), dark, dry place for the next 6 to 8 weeks so that it can go through a period of dormancy.
Forcing an Amaryllis Bulb
In November it's time to start again by planting the bulb (if you took it out of its pot) and watering it. Like before, it will need a cool (65° to 70° degrees F) room to grow and flower in. Remember to water it regularly, but don't let it get too wet or you might get mold or moss growing on the surface of the soil. If you are lucky, the bulb will flower again and might even produce more blooms than last year.
If your bulb grows leaves but does not flower then it probably wasn't able to store enough food during its previous growth period. Don't give up! Treat it like a houseplant as described above, and try again next year. Another reason for poor growth is that the dormancy period may not have been long enough or the storage area may have been too warm or too cold.