Have a Blooming Winter: How to Force Amaryllis Bulbs Indoors

The art of tricking a bulb to flowering inside is called pushing, though with the amaryllis bulb, “coaxing” could be a more fitting term.

Ordinarily with most bulbs, even as soon as you induce them to blossom inside, their energy has been invested and it is unlikely they’ll ever flower again. But this is not true with the rugged amaryllis, which can be forced year after year when planted in dirt. It generates better outcomes because it ages. Compared with the narcissus bulb, which is hands down the easiest flower to induce, amaryllis comes in second, but it is actually the star of the show on account of its dramatic clusters of large blossoms you will look forward to loving each winter.


Amaryllis, which can be purchased as bulbs in the fall or as flowering plants in December, is becoming a favorite year-end gift. Prized for its openness to produce large lily-like trumpet blossoms, which generally last inside for several weeks, amaryllis is a fabulous choice for holiday centerpieces. Meanwhile, potted bulbs, if in bloom or on their way, make fantastic gifts which are simple to put together.

A stunning blooming amaryllis has four blossoms atop every 12- to 24-inch straight stem, usually with a base of leaves, even though they’re missing. While glowing red is the most popular color, amaryllis flowers range from white to deep red; unique striped varieties are also offered.

Chris A Dorsey Photography

Since the plant’s blooming performance is influenced by the size and condition of the bulb, the cautious bulb choice is the first step toward success.

Tips for choosing bulbs:
Select the largest bulbs available, because they will produce more than 1 stalk (and blossoms) the first year. Smaller bulbs will generally produce one stalk the very first year. So while the bigger, softball-size, bulbs are more expensive, they’re a worthy investment.The bulbs should be firm and dry, with no sign of rotting, decay or mold. Examine them carefully for signs of harm that could influence their performance.Store newly purchased bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air flow until they are planted. What You Will Need to plant a brand new amaryllis bulb:
One amaryllis bulb per 6- to 7-inch kettle, or set three bulbs together in a 10- to 12-inch container.A pot marginally bigger than the bulb (1/2 inch to two inches around the sides of the bulb)Well-draining potting mixA bamboo stalk or support structure

Barbara Pintozzi

How to Force Blooms

Choose a plump bulb which has some roots in the base along with a kettle that’s only large enough to get the bulb (or bulbs) — that the bulb should feel crowded to bloom.

2. Gently fill the pot with potting mix, then position the bulb so the top third is exposed once you add more potting soil. Add a bamboo bet or artful construction to the soil beside the bulb. This can help prevent damage to the bulb and roots afterwards as soon as the plant may become top heavy and need assistance. Water thoroughly and make sure that the water drains out of the kettle.

3. Set the pot in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist but not wet. Water only when the top inch or two of the potting mixture is dry to the touch. Overwatering in the start of the expansion cycle is the main cause of failure.

Do not fertilize the bulb until it begins to grow. After expansion appears, fertilize plants with a half-strength saltwater fertilizer each two to three weeks.

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Keep the plant in room temperature, above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer the temperature (70 to 80 levels day and night is perfect), the quicker the bulb will sprout and grow. Watering with warm water or providing underside heat (by putting the pot onto a propagation mat or on the surface of a fridge or warm appliance) may help stimulate expansion.

Inside two to eight months (maybe more), a thick flower stem should take up. Flat leaves will follow as the flower stem develops. Some types of amaryllis require more time to sprout than many others, so be patient. Check to make sure the bulb has remained firm, and do not overwater.

Rotate the pot slightly every few days so the flower stalk receives consistent exposure on all sides and thus grows straight. Move the plant from direct sunlight once the flower buds begin to show color.

Ensuring Future Blooms

Unlike most other forced bulbs, amaryllis will bloom every year, given proper care. The secret to successfully developing amaryllis: Keep the plants growing after they’ve finished blooming, as flourishing leaves provide necessary nourishment to the bulb.

1. Cut person spent blossoms off as they wilt, so the plant doesn’t waste energy trying to produce seeds. Following the bulb finishes flowering entirely, cut the flower stalk near the bottom but keep the leaves intact. Some experts recommend leaving the long stalk intact until it yellows, as it manufactures food that’s stored in the bulb. (The long bowed leaves of this amaryllis make it an attractive houseplant even without blossoms) Keep the plant moist and fertilize regularly.

2. In June, or when there is no possibility of smoke, you can place the amaryllis outside for summer time if desired, preferably in its pot to protect it from insects. Acclimate the plant to the outside by putting it in color or indirect light before gradually moving it to a glowing place or backyard bed where it will get whole sunlight for at least half an hour each day.

3. Water often so the plant doesn’t dry, and continue to fertilize. Leaf growth may continue, and it is a good indication that nutrients in the leaves will nourish the recovering and growing bulb.

Filmore Clark

4. Stop feeding and watering in August or September, and Permit the plant to dry out completely from Sunlight. Bring the plant indoors before the first frost, and eliminate dead leaves at the top of the bulb’s throat, while departing live leaves intact. Keep the bulb in its own pot.

To promote the bulb to blossom again, plants which were cared for in the above mentioned manner should be forced to go dormant by mimicking their life span. (Alternately, some farmers have flowering success with amaryllis plants which are kept inside and green yearlong, though flowering will probably be less predictable and according to the plant’s inner calendar, not yours.)

5. Set the potted amaryllis at a cool (55-degree), richly lit place, such as a cellar, for six to eight months. (Some specialists recommend eight to 12 weeks.) Do not water the bulb. As the leaves yellow and wither, cut them off in the surface of the bulb’s throat.

6. Finish the dormant phase and begin the milking procedure six to eight months before you need blooming to occur. Cut any dead tissue off the bulb’s throat, and then replace the upper 1/2 inch of dirt. At this stage some advocate not removing the bulb out of the pot, although others eliminate the bulb to shake free old dirt and tear off any bulb divisions (called clones), that need to be separated by the mother with some roots.

Care for all these small divisions because you would a full size bulb, and they also can blossom within several decades. Water the potted bulb thoroughly and place the pot at a place with a normal indoor temperature.

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Additional tips for effective amaryllis expansion:

Amaryllis may be potted in soil or increased in water onto a bed of stones, but bulbs increased in water generally can’t be forced in subsequent years.After that the amaryllis has finished flowering, place it at the brightest possible place inside. In summer fertilize with a balanced houseplant fertilizer per day to aid the plant build nutrients up for flower production the next year.Some bulbs may not have the power to produce flowers every year. Continue to care for the plant so the leaves will nourish the bulb for next year’s flowers. If a bulb indicates no green growth out of forcing, gently squeeze the potted bulb below the dirt surface. If the bulb is not firm, it may be rotten and should be discarded. Rotting can indicate a bulb obtained too much watering.

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