GENERAL INFORMATION: amaryllis, make perfect hostess gifts and last-minute gifts for the holidays and beyond. We'll show you some new varities and inexpensive ways to package them prettily. IN THIS PHOTO: amaryllis

Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Get amaryllis out in force

  • Article by: Deb Brown
  • November 20, 2007 - 3:29 PM

Q I brought my potted amaryllis bulbs indoors just ahead of the frost this year. What's the best way to ensure they'll bloom well this winter?

A If you want to try to force amaryllis bulbs to bloom in winter, here's how to do it:

• Put the pots in a cool, dark place in the basement.

• Cut off the foliage once it yellows and dries.

• After about two months, check plants for new growth. (Sometimes leaves appear first, sometimes a flower stalk.) Once you see new growth, return the plants to a sunny window and water them thoroughly.

• If your bulbs show no sign of growth after three months, jump-start them by moving them to a warmer location and watering them. As soon as you see new growth, move the plants into the sun to renew the bloom cycle for another year.

If you want to let your amaryllises bloom naturally, you can keep the plants growing all winter in a sunny window. They should bloom in mid- to late April. Once the threat of frost has passed, you can put them outside for the summer.

Remember that amaryllises will bloom well only if they've stored enough excess energy during the summer. That means the plants should have been kept in a very sunny location, watered regularly and fertilized monthly throughout the summer.

If the plants were neglected or kept in too shady a site, they might not bloom this year.

Deb Brown is a garden writer and former extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota. To ask her a gardening question, call 612-673-9073 and leave a message. She will answer questions in this column only.

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