Reusing Amaryllis Bulbs

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Some gifts just keep on giving, and amaryllis bulbs are right near the top of the list. Amaryllis plants have large, beautiful flowers that come into their own about 10 weeks after you plant the bulb in warm soil. They bloom and bloom and bloom, and they fade. However, that's just act one of a very long show if you know how to take care of amaryllis bulbs.

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Reusing Amaryllis Bulbs
Image Credit: htrnr/iStock/GettyImages

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About Amaryllis Bulbs

Think of amaryllis bulbs as rechargeable solar batteries. They use the energy of the sun to store up nutrients in the bulb. Then, when it's growing time, they have everything they need to produce a stalk, foliage and those dramatic blossoms. Once the flowers fade and wilt, the plant continues gathering energy through photosynthesis from the sunlight on its leaves. When it is "recharged," it will once again produce flowers.

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This works different ways in different situations. For example, if you live in a very warm area like Florida, you can plant amaryllis bulbs outside in a bed and leave them there. They will produce flowers that will eventually wilt. Then comes the solar recharge, followed by a new round of flowers. This can continue all year long.

If you live in a cool climate, you may plant the bulbs in containers that you keep outdoors or indoors. You simply set it on the patio or on an end table in the living room and watch it come into its glory. In both those situations, saving the amaryllis for next year is possible if you give it a chance to recharge its bulb with nutrients.

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Proper Amaryllis Care

The key to keeping amaryllis thriving year after year is to remember the way the plant works. The amaryllis is not just the blossom, it is the entire bulb/stem/blossom system, and it has to keep going in order for the plant to rebloom. You need to give as much or more care to the amaryllis after they bloom as you do before.

Here's how to keep that solar system working. When the flowers wilt, snip off the blossoms. Seed formation depletes the energy reserves in the bulb. On the other hand, leave that flower stalk and any leaves alone. As long as the stem is green, it continues to supply energy to the bulb. If your plants are in pots inside, once you cut the flowers off, move them to a very sunny location so that they can grow leaves and continue with photosynthesis.

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Amaryllis Bulb Storage

You don't need to give an amaryllis bulb a rest period. Some bulbs need a dormant period before they start to grow again, but amaryllis do not. Once they store up enough energy, they are ready to roll and will bloom again if you allow them to keep on growing.

Maybe you don't want them to bloom all winter. If you like your potted amaryllis growing outdoors, but your climate is too cold for them to survive the winter, you might bring them inside. If you know the proper way to tackle amaryllis bulb storage, you can leave them indoors for a spell and then get them going again.

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Here's how to do it. Bring the potted amaryllis indoors. Put it in a basement or some other dry, cool and dark location where the temperature is cool but not cold, like around 60 degrees. Leave it alone for two or three months without giving it any water. Inspect it from time to time. If new growth appears during the months, put the pot in a sunny location and give it water. If not, wait out the full three months, and then place it in a sunny location and give it water and fertilizer. This will force the plant to bloom if it has enough energy. It may take four to six weeks to see the blossoms.

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references

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.