Nothing says spring like bright, bold bulbs bursting forth in sprays of seasonal color – but what if yours appear cursed? Amaryllis that refuse to awaken from their winter slumber cast a pall over the coming season.
Dormant amaryllis bulbs may be the cause of amaryllis bulbs that won’t start growing. Additionally, rotten or dead bulbs may be to blame.
Amaryllis are hardy plants that don’t require much to get started. Let’s take a look at what you can do to grow yours.
The Bulb Can Still Be in Dormancy
Amaryllis bulbs that refuse to bloom are a simple case of a bulb that hasn’t yet woken up. It is still in a restful state known as dormancy.
In order to conserve energy during the colder months, bulbs-based plants go into dormancy They essentially go to sleep, shedding their leaves and retreating underground to await the arrival of the new spring.
Your Amaryllis may take up to a month to emerge from the soil after you’ve planted a brand new bulb, depending on the variety. Even in the best of circumstances, it will take some time for your bright beauty to awaken and blossom.
Sometimes all you have to do is sit back and wait for your Amaryllis to get going when it’s ready.
Temperature Is Too Low
Bulb amaryllis bulbs awaken in the spring. Their growth is accelerated by the shift in temperature. They begin to sprout again as the days lengthen and the soil warms up.
Plants kept indoors are more likely to be protected from the changing of the seasons. Temperatures tend to be fairly consistent throughout the year, which is ideal for their growth.
So they often miss seasonal cues and oversleep, if you know what I mean.
If your Amaryllis hasn’t received a warm wake-up call, it may be reluctant to grow. To avoid the bulb going out, you need to turn up the heat.
If you want your Amaryllis to start growing again, it will need consistent warmth between 65° and 75°F (18° and 24°C). (Source: North Carolina State University)
Soil Is Dry
When dormant, amaryllis plants shed all of their leaves. They devolve into nothing more than a pot of dirt, with the bulb’s tip protruding glumly from the soil.
It’s understandable that you’d stop watering when faced with such a depressing sight. If you don’t let your houseplants dry out completely before the cold weather sets in, you risk killing them from over-watering.
As the weather warms, your Amaryllis will use moisture levels in the growing medium as an additional indicator of the changing seasons.
You can expect the bulb to shut down its growth if it doesn’t get regular, gentle moisture from now on in.
There’s a lot going on beneath the surface, as the bulb sends out new roots to gather the nutrients it needs to produce leaves.
Whether you’re keeping an eye on a newly planted bulb or an old friend, it’s critical to keep your growing medium moist but not soggy.
As always, good drainage is essential, and you should always check the soil before adding more water.
Not Enough Light
When the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter, even the Amaryllis can tell that spring is on its way.
To start over from scratch requires a lot of energy. During the growing season, the Amaryllis uses photosynthesis to convert sunlight into sugar and store it in the bulb.
In the beginning, this fuel will help support new growth, but the infant leaves will wither and die if there is not enough light. If there’s no light, the bulb won’t come out of hibernation.
Make sure your Amaryllis is situated in an area that is well-lit. As long as the windows face south or south-east, the birds will be happy.
Although it may seem silly to put an earthen pot in the brightest part of the growing area, you will be rewarded handsomely once your Amaryllis blooms.
Amaryllis Bulb Rotting
Of course, you may be dealing with far more serious issues. If your bulb was kept in its growing medium over the winter, it’s possible that an opportunistic fungus dined on your poor Amaryllis.
Stored bulbs must be kept dry or they will rot if they are not kept in an airtight container. It’s often a good idea to remove them completely from their growing medium, as cold, moist soil is a breeding ground for the fungi that cause all kinds of rot.
Gently press the soil up against the bulb. Does it have a supple or even springy feel to it? Does the growing medium have a musty or foul odor? Is the soil covered in white or gray flecks? It’s possible that your bulb has died.
Rotten bulbs can’t be salvaged. Remove everything from the pot and start over.
Amaryllis is Dead
In all likelihood, your Amaryllis is simply not alive.
If you’re having trouble growing a new bulb, it’s possible it was damaged during shipping, stored too long, or was never in good shape, to begin with.
This is especially true for Amaryllis bulbs that come in a kit. With a pot, some kind of growing medium, and one or two bulbs, these kits can sit in warehouses for years before they’re sold.
Even if it’s your fault, you may have no choice but to throw out the old bulb and start over with a new one in some cases.
How to Plant Amaryllis Bulbs in Pots
The Right Season
Amaryllis is a versatile and adaptable plant. It is possible to have Amaryllis flowers in the middle of winter with proper planning, and it is not uncommon to find them forced to bloom in time for the holiday season.
It’s best to stick to the seasons if this is your first time growing Amaryllis. Plant them between late March and early April. The rising temperatures of spring will provide the best light and temperature to reawaken your dormant bulb.
Plant at least two months ahead of time if you want a winter bloom. The middle of October is ideal. After that, you’ll need to keep your Amaryllis warm and well-lit.
While it is possible to get good blooms from a naturally lit plant, I would just cut to the chase and use a grow light for winter blossoms.
The Right Temperature
As mentioned above, if you want your Amaryllis to wake from its slumber and spread its slender leaves, you need to keep it warm.
Make sure your growing environment is consistently warm. The newly planted bulb will remain dormant until it experiences ongoing temperatures around 65° and 75°F (18° and 24°C).
The Right Planting Mix
Amaryllis thrive in rich soil with plenty of mature organic matter. A premium potting mix enriched with compost or worm castings is ideal. (Check out the prices on Amazon here)
I’d also recommend a quarter-volume of perlite or light sand. This will promote drainage, which is especially important if you intend to store the Amaryllis inside its pot over the winter.
It will keep your bulb from getting too wet and rotting while it is dormant. It’s worth noting at this point that Amaryllis thrive in densely packed pots.
A compact pot with no more than two inches of clearance between the bulb and the pot’s wall is ideal, and as always, make sure there are plenty of drainage holes.
Terra cotta is also an excellent material for your pot. It will keep your plant from becoming too wet.
Soak Amaryllis Bulb Before Planting
It’s a good idea to soak new bulbs before planting them. It is not uncommon for overwintered bulbs to dry out in storage. It helps to keep the bulb from rotting, but it can slow their growth once they’re potted.
I like to use a narrow cup or glass because you only need to soak the root end of the bulb. I immersed them in enough water to cover the root end and allow the top to float free. Allow them to soak for three hours in filtered or distilled water.
What month Do You Plant Amaryllis Bulbs?
The best months to plant Amaryllis, depending on where you live, are late March to early April. If they are too early, they will not provide enough light for your plant to thrive.
If you want to have festive winter blooms, plant the bulbs in pots by mid-October. Hopefully, they will bloom during the darkest part of the holiday season.
How Long Can Amaryllis Bulbs Be Stored?
While bulbs appear to be magical, they are not immortal. A bulb should ideally be stored for no more than twelve weeks before being replanted.
An Amaryllis bulb will last about a year if properly stored. They must be kept cool and dry, and some growers even keep theirs refrigerated.
However, the longer they are stored, the less likely they are to grow, let alone flower.
How Deep Do You Plant Amaryllis Bulbs Outside?
In warmer parts of the country, amaryllis grows quite well outdoors. They’re a great set-and-forget pop of summer color, capable of snoozing out the cold end of the year before bursting back into life in the spring.
You’re in the best part of the country to plant Amaryllis outside if you live in US hardiness zones 8 through 10. Consider planting in containers or beds outside. Plant your bulbs in early spring.
No matter where you plant your Amaryllis, don’t plant it too deeply. The newly awakened bulb requires energy to force its leaves to the surface.
When a bulb is planted too deeply, it will not always have the strength to reach the sun before its reserves are depleted.
To get the most out of your Amaryllis bulb, the top part should protrude above the soil level. In general, this is the bulb’s narrowest part, with the whiskery mass of roots at the base. Aim for about a third of the bulb to be visible.
I have to admit that I imagine those neat pointed parts of the bulbs as little noses poking above the soil to breathe! It has assisted me in planting my bulbs at the proper depth.
I imagine them to be sleeping creatures, and I suppose they are! Given the right temperature, light, and water, those little creatures always wake up, ready to reward my patience with some of the spring’s most spectacular blooms.