Amaryllis is a species of flower native to South Africa and cultivated primarily for their beautiful bell-shaped pink and blue flowers. Because they are from the Southern Hemisphere, their blooming and propagating seasons are off-kilter when planted in the Northern Hemisphere. This can cause problems when trying to get them to propagate by bulb division.
Care in Planting
Taking care in planting can have long-term benefits. If the amaryllis bulb experiences less shock, it will grow more quickly and be more able to withstand disease and pests. Because it grows more quickly it will be inclined to divide sooner. When planting, select an area of well-draining soil that's in full sunlight. Dig a hole 6 inches deep and line the interior with a high-nitrate fertilizer. Wet the amaryllis bulb and surrounding soil thoroughly after planting and do not tamp the soil down tightly.
Leave it Alone
It's important to have patience in getting an amaryllis bulb to divide. It's completely normal for them to go two or three years after planting without dividing. Don't uproot them or trim the foliage. Leave it alone. Normally, an amaryllis bulb only produces a single stem, but when they are getting close to dividing, they will produce multiple stems. These stems will produce flowers. This is an attempt by the plant to reproduce with pollen from other amaryllis bulbs.
Clip the flowers off whenever they appear to encourage the bulb to divide. The divide should occur when each of the stems has sustainable foliage--meaning, leaves with which they can perform photosynthesis.
Sometimes you have to play a little hardball to get an amaryllis bulb to divide. It can be risky, but it works on the principle that all living things attempt to procreate if they know death is imminent so their genes are not lost. After the blooms have wilted, cut away all the dead growth as well as roughly one-third of the living stem.
Carefully uproot the bulb, making sure not to damage the roots themselves as these do not heal. Lightly score the exterior of the amaryllis bulb with a knife, only enough to cut into the outermost layer of tissue. Then store the bulb in a cool, dark place. Ideally, you could place it in a cellar. If not, cushion the interior of a Styrofoam cooler or something similar with towels, packing peanuts, sawdust, or sand and store the bulb inside.
The amaryllis bulb should begin to divide within six weeks, but can take as long as three months. Waiting any longer than this jeopardizes the bulb.