Transplant amaryllis from bulb to window box

When is the appropriate time to transplant amaryllis bulbs from mature existing plants that have been growing in a large, plastic window box?

— Wanda

That depends on where you live. If you live in a warm winter climate, amaryllis can be grown outdoors all year long. In situations like that, they should be transplanted in the fall.

If you live in a cold winter climate such as ours, amaryllis won’t survive freezing temperatures and need to come indoors during the winter.

Amaryllis are easy to care for and to get blooming the first year, it’s getting them to bloom again the next year that can be frustrating. I’ve heard of lots of different methods for getting an amaryllis to re-bloom, but this is the one I’ve settled on as the best method:

First, you want to plant the bulbs in good quality potting soil in a pot only a couple of inches wider than the bulb. Amaryllis likes to be a little pot-bound, so don’t put it in too large of a pot.

Plant the bulb shallowly, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed. Water it well, and put the pot in a warm spot. Amaryllis will sprout more quickly and consistently the warmer it is.

Be patient. It will take from four to 10 weeks for an amaryllis bulb to produce flowers. Once the bulb starts to flower, putting it in a cooler location will help those flowers to last longer.

The bulb will usually push up a flower bud sprout first. This stalk will produce four or five spectacular blooms that will last three to four weeks. Once those flowers have faded, cut the stalk off down near the base. The bulb will have started to push out dark green, strap-like foliage.

If your bulb is large enough, it will then shoot up a second flowering stalk that you can enjoy for another three or four weeks. Be sure to cut that spent flower stalk off when it’s done blooming. Don’t cut the leaves, just the spent flower stalk.

After your amaryllis finishes blooming, you’ll have to decide whether this is the beginning of a long-term relationship or a short trip to the compost pile.

The key is that after your amaryllis’s flowers fade, you need to give the plant the best possible growing conditions such as bright light and adequate water and fertilizer that will feed next year’s blooms as they’re being formed at this time. The better the growing conditions, the more leaves the plant grows, and more leaves means more flowers.

The most critical need is for light. A very bright room with multiple windows is what the plant needs. Put the plant close to the window to receive the maximum amount of light, but don’t leave it right next to the window overnight as it can get too cold.

Once the weather warms, move the plant outdoors to a spot that gets bright shade. It’s best to treat amaryllis like a tropical house plant and continue to water it. Amaryllis is a subtropical evergreen plant that generally never completely dries up in its native environment.

Amaryllis does need a change in conditions in the fall in order to make flower buds. The plant needs two months of cool temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees. Part of that requirement can be met by leaving the plant outdoors early in the fall, but be careful, amaryllis won’t tolerate freezing temperatures.

If the weather forecast is calling for low temperatures below 35 degrees, bring them in the house to protect them. You can cycle the plant indoors and out as fall progresses, but eventually, you’ll have to keep them indoors full time. At that point, be sure to put your plant in a bright spot that’s cool.

A bright back bedroom or other similar spot works for most people. Once it’s had that cool rest, put your plant in a warm spot and enjoy those spectacular flowers Christmas after Christmas.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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