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Caring for Holiday Cactus

Low Light and Winter Leaf Drop

Orchid Basics

Caring for Peace Lilies

Reblooming Amaryllis

Question of the Week

Delinquent Amaryllis Blooms

Unless exposed to very warm temperatures, amaryllis bulbs often won't send up flowers until April or even May after colorful annuals have been planted in the garden! Q. Youíve written about how easy it is to keep amaryllis from year to year, and force them into bloom for the holidays. Well, Iíve tried your recommendations for a couple of years now with no success. The bulbs do eventually produce beautiful flowers, but in April and even May Ė not Christmas! Either Iím doing something wrong, or you have no clue as to what youíre talking about!

A. Did my wife put you up to asking this question? Sheís been frustrated by my inability to reliably bloom our amaryllis bulbs in time for the holidays Ė and, therefore, also has little confidence that I have a clue as to what Iím doing! Anyway, let me offer some of the things that Iíve learned about reblooming amaryllis bulbs over the past several years.

First, cut off the flower stalks just above the top of the bulb as soon as the blooms begin to fade Ė but do not cut back the long, strap-like leaves.

Put amaryllis bulbs outdoors where they'll receive full sun all day during the cummer months.Second, to increase the bulb and flower size, amaryllis needs as much light as you can possibly give them. Therefore, gradually move your plants outdoors from dappled shade to full sun over the course of several weeks after the chance of frost has passed in mid- to late May. Keep the potting soil evenly moist, but not wet, and fertilize once every couple of weeks with half-strength houseplant fertilizer.

Next comes the tricky part.

After a dormant period of about two months, it can take amaryllis anywhere from one to three months to flower. So, counting back from the holidays, youíll want to move at least some of your amaryllis bulbs to a cool (45įF Ė 55įF), dark spot in early to mid-August and stop watering them. Move more of them to the same place every week or so through September.

Setting amaryllis bulbs on top of heating cables can speed their bloom by a month or more.In mid- to late October, repot the first amaryllis bulbs you placed in storage and set them in a room thatís very warm Ė ideally at least 75F, or set them on top of a soil warming or heating cables. It's not even necessary that the bulbs are in brightly lit room until new leaves starting emerging from the top of the bulbs.

Continue bringing a few bulbs out of storage every week or two to extend the bloom throughout the winter months.

Iíve come to the conclusion that itís this exposure to warm temperatures thatís very important to kick the bulbs out of dormancy and bring them into bloom as fast as possible.