Why It's Dumb to Chuck Your Amaryllis

As I've said before, if you toss out your amaryllis bulb after Christmas because the blooms have fallen off, you're throwing away a very good thing. Want proof? Just look at the amaryllises now in bloom on Grumpy's front steps. They all started out as Christmas plants.

Why are they blooming now? Because an amaryllis naturally blooms in spring. The ones you buy at Christmas have been specially treated to bloom for the holidays. But they only do that once and then return to form.

So let's say you still have your amaryllis plant from Christmas, it's just growing leaves now, and you wonder if you can get it to bloom again. YES. IT'S EASY. Just follow these directions.

1. Keep the bulb in the same pot it was planted in or you planted it.

2. After your last spring frost, take the pot outside to a sunny or partly sunny spot.

3. Sprinkle a tablespoon of slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote 14-14-14 around the soil surface.

4. Water the pot when the soil gets dry, but make sure the pot drains well.

5. Give the pot a drink of water-soluble fertilizer once in June and again in July.

6. Stop watering the bulb on October 1. Let the leaves yellow, shrivel, and turn brown. This causes the bulb to go dormant, which is essential for future blooming.

7. Take the bulb indoors before your first fall frost. Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place and don't water.

8. Around March 1, water the bulb once. When you see a fat, green bud start to emerge from the top of the bulb, water again.

9. Your amaryllis should bloom in about a month. Take it outside after your last spring frost.

10. Repeat these steps every year.

Can I Plant Amaryllis in the Ground? Amaryllis is winter-hardy in the Lower, Coastal, and Tropical South (USDA Zones 8-10). Grumpy, who lives in Zone 8, has amaryllis bulbs blooming in his garden right now. Plant the bulbs so that their tops are even with the soil surface. They need no special care other than sun and well-drained soil and naturally multiply.

Bigger Bulbs, More Flowers The bigger your amaryllis bulb, the more flowers it'll make. Notice that each bulb in the pots above sent up at least two bloom stalks. The show was so spectacular that Grumpy's wife caught the FedEx delivery man taking pictures of them with his phone. The best source for huge amaryllis bulbs I know is Longfield Gardens.

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