The amaryllis is a popular indoor plant because of its large, striking flowers. Amaryllis thrive in USDA Planting Zones 9 through 11. Their natural flowering period starts near the end of December and can continue for up to 10 weeks. But with a little know-how and the right environment, it is possible to control when the plant will bloom. With proper care, your amaryllis plant can last a lifetime.
Forcing Amaryllis to Bloom
Before amaryllis bloom, they must experience a dormant period of about four months. Forcing dormancy requires withholding water and moving the plant to a cool spot where the temperature stays about 55 degrees. These conditions are not easy to create naturally, but you can remove the plant from its pot, rinse it and store it in your refrigerator for six to eight weeks to force it into dormancy.
Do not refrigerate apples if you are storing amaryllis bulbs in a refrigerator, as the bulbs will become infertile and won't bloom. Most amaryllis lovers begin withholding water in late summer, so they can take advantage of the upcoming cool weather necessary to promote dormancy.
Leave your amaryllis plant outside during early fall. Move it to an indoor location at the end of October, or a little later if you're in a southern location. If frost is expected, move the plant indoors until the threat of frost has passed. Find a place inside near a window or one where the plant will receive a moderate amount of light. Keep it away from heaters, air conditioners and drafts. The plant will do best in a cool location, with temperatures as close to 60 degrees as possible. Withhold water from the plant during this period.
Winter is growing season for the amaryllis plant's leaves and flowers. To promote growth, move it to a window where it will receive at least five hours of sunlight each day. When buds appear, begin to water the soil weekly, but do not let the water touch the part of the bulb that is located above the soil. Apply liquid fertilizer once a month. Be sure the water can drain easily. Flowers will bloom for seven to 10 weeks. When a bloom fades, cut the stalk close to the bulb. It is natural for sap to emerge from the cut stalk. Continue to water the plant weekly. When the last frost has passed, move your amaryllis back outdoors.
In early spring, find a sunny spot for your amaryllis to live outdoors. Water the plant every day, preferably in early morning or in early evening, when the sun is not shining directly on the plant. Amaryllis will lose their old leaves, but new ones will appear. Fertilize the plant every two weeks with the same liquid fertilizer you used during winter.
The amaryllis bulb grows during the hot months, so it requires some sun. Morning sun is best, followed by shade in the afternoon. Continue to water the plant daily. Begin withholding water during late summer in preparation for the dormancy period.