I took my two amaryllis outside for the summer, kept them watered and fertilized, and have been waiting and waiting for the foliage to yellow, dry up and fall off, a la tulips/daffodils. But no -- not only did the leaves stay on (though they got a little ragged), there are now new leaves coming up from the bulbs, and side shoots! These guys don't appear to be resting at all, and I'm afraid the new growth is going to suck out the flower energy.
What's the next step? I'm in Minnesota. Frost could come any time after mid-September, though for the last couple of years it has held off until October; and our present daytime highs are hitting 80. Next week night lows could get into the 40's. Will this tell the amaryllis to cool it? Should I leave them outside until temps get into the upper 30's?
Normal behavior, I can deal with. It's this oddball stuff I don't get -
Oh, and one more thing. The bulbs are a lot bigger than they used to be, and there are white roots crawling out of every hole in the pots. It seems like a lousy time to re-pot, with new growth coming. But once I get them to go to sleep (if ever), or at least slow down, should I try to preserve the whole root ball when I move them?
This is okay. The more leaves, the more scapes you will get in the next season. Hippeastrum behave differently as compared to, for example Narcissi (same family of plants) and they are not confined to the ONE set of leaves. The better the growing conditions, the faster the appearance of subsequent leaves that might emerge as singles or bunches of, often 3-4, new leaves. Do not repot now, but after reposal [ompletely dry and cool, perfectly 55F] of the bulbs IN their pots (this will prevent the roots from drying out too much) Perfect repotting IS actually by transferring the whole root ball into a container of slightly a bigger size, but this applies only when the majority of roots look really good. (white and fresh, not reddish and sick, brittle).
joanic..i had same experience with my amaryllis.. they are in same pot from last
winter.. i put them out in june..and leaves never died back..and i got more leaves a month ago..
one is even sending up a flower spike.. YEA>>>
one of the bulbs is huge.. much larger than original bulb..and i bought big bulbs..
i think haweha is right.. i think was a good summer for them here..and for u up in MN..
mine got alot of sun..kept watered/fertilized well.. and well drained pots...
im sure i will need to pull mine inside in the next month.. nites here are in 50sF so thats not bad..
looking foward to how many flower spikes i end up with in january...:)
good luck to you !!!!
I have little year-round experience with amaryllis - only the bulb-in-a-box kits that come from the box stores - so all this behavior is new to me. I wrote to Kathleen also over at easytogrowbulbs.com, and she said that amaryllis can be pretty individualized in when they bloom. Just because you can buy them in November/December give or bloom for the holidays, doesn't mean that's when they would naturally bloom. They're made to do that by all kinds of special treatments. It seems that all the things you have to do to force a plant into dormancy and bloom cycle are maybe more detailed/picky than what most of us can do, and keep the bulb healthy.
Kathleen's advice was basically to let them grow as long as they feel like. There was more to it than that of course, bless her heart for sparing me the time to write! But that's it in a nutshell. Here's me, trying to predict and get all kinds of info in advance so I know what to expect (typical me), when the answer is more likely to quit worrying and just "read" the plant. Which you, haweha, are telling me how to do. Thanks!
So, "nut," you're getting a bloom spike *with* leaves? I think that actually sounds prettier than a stalk standing up there by itself! Very interesting. My amaryllis didn't have that great a summer, due to my having to be gone for part of it (family emergency), during which they were in a shady spot, and watered probably somewhat irregularly. Maybe that's when they rested. When I got home I edged them out into the sun gradually, and started paying attention. The weather turned hot and humid. Probably why they decided "let's grow!"
What's the night time low temp limit, for amaryllis? If it gets down to 40°, which is possible in the next 10 days or so, will they be unhappy? I want them to think "sleepy time" without them thinking "omg, I'm going to die".
My real name is just Joan, so you can use that, if you like -
Update: These bulbs just do not seem to want to rest. I left them outside as the Minnesota fall temps were dropping, so they'd get a little cool treatment. They slowed down a little, but when night temperatures were dropping into the 30's, I thought I'd better bring them in. It never seemed like a good idea to dry them out - does one intentionally deprive them of water, as temperatures drop, in order to force them to rest? Anyhow, they're happily putting forth side shoots as well as plenty of big leaves out of the main bulb. Will they bloom this year? What are those smaller side shoots going to do?
The side shoots are the leaves grown by offsets. Eventually, these little bulblets will get big enough to grow flowers of their own. It's best to keep these attached to the mother bulb while they're still small. Once they've gotten bigger, you can separate them from the mother bulb and plant them in their own pots.
Not sure if your original bulb will flower this year or wait til later. It depends on whether it has stored up enough energy to make a flower. But even if it doesn't bloom now, it should bloom at some point.
As far as how to get these to rest, that's a good question. I used to deliberately stop watering mine to get them to rest, but even so, they would still keep growing! So now, I just let them grow, watering as needed, and let them figure out when to rest. (Even though I'm in a zone where I could have mine planted in the ground, all of mine are in containers.) I'm still figuring out the secrets for getting them to go dormant!
I put several of mine outdoors under the eaves so they don't get overwatered by the rain yet they can have a cold period. When I did this last year, some finally decided to go dormant, but others just kept growing, more slowly, but still growing.
Given that your amaryllis just started growing lots of leaves in September, it probably wants to keep growing for now. And, since it was outside while the weather got colder and colder, perhaps this was a sufficient cold period to get it thinking about blooming. My best suggestion at this point is to have fun with it! Consider it an experiment, and see what it does. By the way, if it does flower, once it has finished flowering, you'll want to keep it growing so it can replenish its energy.
Thanks, Michelle. I know I can't put these guys to sleep now - they're going full blast with the growth, strong, thick and green. They didn't do much in the middle of the summer, and I thought in August the leaves would yellow off, like I understand one can expect. But that's exactly when they started to shoot lots of new leaves! Maybe they rested in July, when I wasn't here to pay attention. These bulbs (there are two) are *much* bigger than they were when I bought them; and they have those roots that are practically climbing out of the pot. So I think they've got plenty of energy. It's just that maybe they're putting that energy into multiplying themselves, instead of flowering. I kind of hope not.
I read one ag extension service bulletin that said one should bring them in before frost and keep them cool and dry, which should send them to sleep. The timing would have been wrong for my amaryllis this year, but maybe next year I'll keep an eye on them (I was away for a couple of months this year, and had others do my pet- and plant-sitting), and if growth seems to stop, I'll withhold water, even if it's still summer here, and I think they ought to be growing. I'm wondering if maybe these things don't pay much attention to the calendar! We'll see.
Confession: four new bulbs arrived in the mail last week. So I will certainly have flowers this year, even if I don't get the fun of re-blooming them myself. Yet! Darn, this is one of those things I really want to get to happen -
I planted mine in the ground, watered and fertilized during the summer. Dug up before it got cold. I broke off all the bulblets, as i only want 1 bulb, and am trying to grow them large. I had 2 that were larger to begin with when I purchased them last year...they grew some more over summer. The circumference at the widest part of the bulb was 17 inches!!!! Those 2 just started showing a shoot, so I planted them in pots a couple days ago. I've had them dug and trimmed of the roots and leaves for about a month or better. All the others are still resting.
Joan, even if your bulb is making bulblets, it can still flower. I had a bulb that did this. But At some point, you'll want to get them in a container that's big enough for the two of them. It will probably be fine for now, especially since the bulblet just started growing. The bulblet (offset) will probably be pretty small for a while. the next time the big bulb rests, you might even be able to separate the two and grow them in separate pots. I've read that the offset should be 1/4 or 1/3 the size of the parent bulb before separating. So you can decide then whether to keep them together or not. And you can decide then if you should move them to a bigger container or not.
Oh, and by the way, I also have some that seem to rest in the summer. Not sure if that's their regular cycle or if I missed too many waterings :) Like you, I'll have to really keep an eye on them next summer!
Thanks, Michelle, that's helpful input, to hear that yours too seemed to rest in the summer. When mine went into apparent rest, it seemed to me to occur right about when I set them outside; so I thought it might be a case of shock, perhaps from unaccustomed wind. (Although I did acclimate them to the sun gradually - the same hardening-off process I use for seedlings started indoors - and sheltered them from the direct wind.) I have a hunch this is one of those things where you just have to read the plant. Well, one season down, on the catalog of experiences.
Also good to hear that about the proportional sizes of the parent and offset bulbs. I'll pay attention to that.
Tropical - I was just re-reading this thread, and noticed that you're expecting spikes in January. I hope that happens for me too! The time of year when we in the Major Snow Zones really appreciate the promise that indoor flowers offer. When you get multiple spikes off a single bulb, where do they come from? All out of the center?
That's interesting that your amaryllis went dormant when moved outside. Was it cooler outside than inside? If it was significantly cooler, the cooler temps might have helped trigger the dormant phase.
As far as where the scapes come from when there are multiple scapes, what I've observed is that the new leaves alway come from the very center. And when flower scapes come up, they're offset from the center, some more, some less. The farther from the center the scape comes up, the longer ago it was formed. And if more are going to come up, the next one will come up somewhere closer to center but on the opposite side. And if that one is far enough from center, you could have a third come up between the first one and the center. It's pretty cool to see them do this!
Definitely cooler outside, as they went out in May, when our daytime highs were probably in the low to mid 60's, and lows could get into the 40's, occasionally. That would be it, wouldn't it? I was thinking "light, lots and lots of light, let's put on some size this summer!" But of course I watered them all the way through, so though they tried to go dormant, they never got a dry period.
Ah! I see the "scape map" now! Thank you! Makes sense that they develop in order, as the bulb puts on layers. One of my last-year bulbs has a huge mass of strong leaves right from the center, and a second, smaller pair just off center. Maybe, if it flowers this year, there will be two scapes! The other has fewer offsets and no second leaf set from the center, but appears to be at least as healthy in itself.
I just have a feeling, with all these leaves, like neither is going to flower.
I'm thinking that the one with the second set of leaves is probably an offset. But lots of leaves from the main bulb is good. In fact, the more leaves your bulb has, the greater the chance for multiple flower scapes :)
Your 60 degree daytime temps and 40 degree nighttime temps sound similar to some of the temps we've been having here lately. The thing I find amazing is that some of my amaryllises look like thy're thinking of going dormant, and others seem to still be growing quite happily. Go figure! And it's been a dilemma for me for the ones going dormant as to how much water to give them. Some sources say to quit watering them when they go dormant, and others say to still give them a little water occasionally. For now, I'm still watering the ones that are thinking of going dormant, but only occasionally. As I said, I'm still experimenting with this part, too :)
Michelle, I'm thinking that the how-damp-to-keep-them is probably like dahlias - not bone dry, but just humid, so the bulbs don't shrivel up. I would have a hard time judging this in a pot, too. I mean, how do you just water it "a little"? If you only dampen the surface, what good does that do? I used to think that whatever moisture one added, it would migrate evenly through the soil. But I've found out different. It seems to me like the only way one can really control this is to actually dig the bulb and put it in some humid but airy mix. Maybe some damp sphagnum. I betcha when we get our bulbs from the mail-order houses, they've been kept in conditions like this.
On the other hand, I'm sure lots of people who re-bloom their amaryllis never bother with all this fuss. Maybe this next year, I'll try both ways, and see what happens. Too bad I don't have any two bulbs of the same variety; cultivar variation is probably going to affect results.
Sometimes I think it would be a great idea to have a large, cabinet-type humidor for all the objects I own that want higher humidity than is normal for my house! Like my violin (wants Venetian type weather, hates Minnesota winters), and plants/bulbs that are "resting"!
For the diehard amaryllis grower I recommend the following: Royal Horticultural Society - Plant Collector Guide - Hippeastrum the gardener's amaryllis by Veronica M. Read 2004 ISBN 0-88192-639-6 296 pages with many, many full color plates. Ms. Read is a world expert on the genus. Here's a tid bit: "Contrary to popular belief, Hippeastrum hybrids are evergreen and do not require a resting period. Providing the bulb remains healthy and conditions remain favorable, new leaves and inflorescences are initiated throughout the year..." p. 161
She does explain that for best flowering, bulbs need a "cool period" at 55 degrees for 8-10 weeks. You can do this when you repot or just cool the bulb as is. I leave mine outdoors for as long as possible in the fall to take advantage of cool fall weather, until temps are forecasted to go below 40 then I finish them up in an unheated shed. They get sun through a south window and I keep them watered, lightly. This lady knows her stuff. I usually get three blooming periods from my bulbs.
I have to be honest here though. Even though I follow the same protocol for the cybisters I just cant get mine to rebloom. Lots of foliage but no scapes. Next year I'm going to cool the cybisters for 12 weeks.
Yes, Veronica's book is a good book. I concluded that I don't need to worry if my plants don't rest from reading her book. And that's where I learned to continue to lightly water them even during the cool period.
I think the key for watering them is to give them some water, and then let the soil dry out between waterings. But if your container has some depth to it, it can be a little tricky to determine how moist the soil is further down. But that's part of the learning I think. I think in time, you get used to how quickly the soil you're using tends to dry out and such.
Snapple45, that's neat that you're able to get your amaryllises to bloom so much :) In time, I hope to get mine to bloom more regularly, too.
Thanks Michelle. I stumbled on the "no dormancy necessary" by accident. I'm lazy. After bringing the bulbs back in the fall - we have to do that here obviously because of the harsh winters - I saw that the bulbs were lush and full of foliage. No way were they ready to be dried out and stuck in the dark, so rather than expend the effort to get them in a dark closet, as was the convention, I just put them in a south window and kept them growing. And they kept blooming periodically. THEN, I found Read's book. The cooling period does promote heavier flowering. But even that isn't absolutely necessary. If your OK with decent, but not spectacular blooms, just keep them in the best light you can, feed and water them regularly and enjoy. I feed with Schultz's liquid plant food 10-15-10 with most waterings. Most waterings because I am lazy and sometimes I forget. I've got Black Pearl just finishing up and Rozetta is putting out two nice scapes. I repot maybe every second or third year, depending on the plants needs. I use a potting mix with some shredded bark. This is the third bloom this year for each. They bloomed in June and then again in the first week of August.
Some of my other bulbs aren't going to bloom because I let them go to seed after I cross pollinated them. Producing seed takes 1/3 of the bulbs stored energy. They're pooped. I dont plan on having anything pollinated this year. The bulbs need to replenish and I want flowers. And, I'm lazy! ;)
I know they say you may not get more flowers the next season if you let them go to seed, but I have had flowers the next season even so. Was pleasantly surprised! But I've also had plants that didn't flower for multiple seasons in a row. Have concluded that there are lots of variables (lighting, watering, feeding, etc). I use a time release fertilizer cause it's easier for me to measure than the liquid kind, and you don't have to apply it as often. Just have to remember to give it to them occasionally (though I don't always remember). I, too, try to transplant every two to three years. Didn't used to transplant this often, but am finding that this seems to work best.
Speaking of transplanting, Snapple45, when do you like to do your transplanting if your amaryllises don't seem inclined to rest? This has always been a dilemma for me :) Used to wait til they went dormant, but now that I'm discovering that they don't always do this, I'm trying to decide when the best time is to do this.
I transplant any time it looks necessary or 3 years wichever comes first. I dont cut anything back or trim in any way. I let the plant decide which leaves to keep and which to shed. If watered well and kept out of direct sun for a few days they don't have any problem at all, retaining all of their leaves. I try to do this in our late spring around the end of May. Then the pots are set outside for the rest of the summer. I'm trying to get them all on the same cycle. Only because its easier for me to keep track of.
Anna_Z. what did you do with the bulbs in the fall? Did you pot them up and bring them inside? I hear it's pretty chilly up there in WI in the winter.
I dug them up before it froze, cut the foliage off, trimmed the roots and they are languishing under the picnic table up in the g'house. LOL After reading that they don't really need a rest period, I may go pot them up and see what happens.
Snapple45, what size containers do you like to use? And when you transplant, do you remove all of the old soil from their roots first, or just transplant root ball and all? If you do remove the soil first, do you trim the roots back at all before replanting? I think I've trimmed the roots back in the past, but am thinking that maybe I don't want to do this the next time I transplant them. May want to just try moving them to larger containers if space permits.
I choose a container that's no more than 2 inches wider than the bulb width. In other words there's no more than 1 to 1-1/2 inches from the outside edge of the bulb to the inside of the pot. I get a container that's as deep as I can possibly get. I like clay, because its easier to avoid overwatering. I gently knock off all the old soil.I trim any broken roots, but try to preserve as many as possible. These plants are tougher than you think. My cat's dumped and broken an entire pot. The bulb laid on the floor all day while I was at work, while the cat played with it. When I got home I thought yikes! I trimmed the tattered foliage and broken roots, potted it up in fresh soil, watered it in and gave it some liquid plant food. The bulb didnt miss a beat. Rozetta. I still have the cat too.
:) Apparently you're not the only one in your household that likes amaryllises... sounds like your cat likes them, too! LOL :) Yes, these are a tough plant :) I had some amaryllises sitting on a table outside where they could get more sun. One day, I went out to see how they were doing, and discovered one had been knocked off or blown off the table and was lying on it's side. Had no idea how long it had been there! Several long leaves had been broken but were still partially attached. Decided to leave them on the plant and let the bulb decide what it wanted to do. I thought the leaves might die back and the bulb grow new ones, but instead, it kept them for the rest of the summer, only dying back in the fall. Even had flowers in the spring!
And it sounds like I don't need to do much different from what I'm already doing when transplanting. Good to know :)
Snapple45, I'm sure we're all really glad you weighed in on this! I'll try to get hold of that book (what, actually buy a *book* in these internet days??). But in the meanwhile, it's certainly good to know that what I'm doing may still possibly produce flowers, eventually. 55°, I can probably do, once the temperatures drop in the fall. I'll give it a try next year, but meanwhile, just see what happens with all this happy green growth. Have a good holiday, everyone!
my amaryllis are sending out new leaves now..
my papillios are too..
im anxious with one of the butterflys.. its a HUGE bulb..and i bought it cut down
so i never saw the flower.. it is the largest bulb of papillio ive ever seen..always had/seen ones
that were maybe 1/2 size of BIG african bulbs.. this one papillio i have..the bulb is as big as any
of my largest african ones..
no flower spikes on any yet.. would like the bulbs to bulk up and get some nice flowers this dec/jan
Actually, just so you know, the flowers you get this coming season were created during last year's growth. And the energy that the bulbs store up this growing season will be used to develop the flowers for next season.
It will be interesting to see what the flowers look like from that huge bulb you have :)
so true gardenquail.. :)
ive been giving an extra boost of P in the fertilizing..same with my amorphophallus..
ive never seen such a HUGE bulb with papillio.. not sure if its a sport/freak/??whatever..
lol but ive seen the flowers from the sellers.. the flowers are good green colour..and really big too..
i wish i had bought more when i had the chance..
there in mountain view..?? can you leave you amaryllis out over winter? or do you have
to bring in?
here in utah..mine will stay outside till mid oct..after that its to iffy..
I don't have a good place to plant them in the ground, so I grow mine in containers. I keep the containers outside through the winter, but I typically move them under the eaves so they don't get too waterlogged by the rains. Also have some indoors. Typically, these are the ones that I think aren't ready to handle outdoor weather (like my new seedlings) or are just beginning to send up flower stalks. Don't want to miss the flowers :) or have snails eat them!