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Marie Iannotti

Gardening Question of the Week: My Amaryllis Won’t Go Dormant. Should I force it?

By November 19, 2009

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I get a lot of questions about plants that don't behave the way the books say they're supposed to. Plants and deer really should pay better attention to all the research we've done on them and play along, don't you think? Until then, we have to learn to go with nature.

Amy wrote me that she's had her Amaryllis for about a year and it won't go dormant. It still has 4 or 5 green leaves on it. Should she cut the leaves off? Also the plant seems pot bound. Is now a good time to transplant it?

Sometimes the leaves just won't cooperate, but that doesn't mean the Amaryllis bulb isn't going dormant. Don't bother cutting the leaves off. They'll whither on their own eventually.

Do stop watering the plant and move it to a cool spot out of direct sunlight. Start checking for a flower stalk in about 8 weeks. When you see it poking up, move the plant back into light and start watering again.

Unless your bulb is bursting out of its pot, it's probably fine. Amaryllis need to be snug in their pots to flower. If you think it really has squeezed out all the soil, now is a good time to repot. Only go one size larger and still follow the dormancy instructions above. The cross your fingers and hope your plant learns to read.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti


November 25, 2009 at 6:49 pm
(1) Louise says:

I bury my ammy’s pot and all on the side of my vegetable garden in late may. Come September most leaves have dried off, I lift the bulbs before frost, replant in new soil the plants that already show new growth, store the rest in peat moss in the cool room until they show new growth. I then enjoy my amaryllis for many winter months. Having great luck with this method.

November 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm
(2) gardening says:

I tuck mine in the back of a flower bed for the summer. That’s a clever idea, to store the unsprouted bulbs in peat moss until they show new growth. Usually I tuck mine, pot and all, in a dark corner and forget about it, until I stumble on it by accident.

May 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm
(3) Velma says:

I have a bed of pink amaryllis and for the first time they did not bloom this year. Any ideas as to why that would happen?
The bed of red ones bloomed beautifully.

June 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm
(4) Marie Iannotti says:

It’s hard to say why plants don’t perform. It could be that the pink ones didn’t build up enough energy or it could be that they’re in different areas and didn’t get enough water, light or whatever. It’s disappointing, I know, but as long as they’re putting up leaves, they should be fine and will bloom when they’re ready.

May 15, 2013 at 1:04 am
(5) JoAnn says:

May 14,2013…My Amaryllis Minerva leaves, ( 5 of them) are growing daily it seems! They all are approximately 19″ tall! Plus a thick looking leaf about 2″ that came out first. Planted in the medium on April 16 2013.
Are the leaves suppose to be that tall?…they are very healthy looking but as mentioned I only have 5 leaves is this normal? This is my first experience and now waiting for a flower to appear.

May 15, 2013 at 6:29 am
(6) gardening says:

JoAnn, it’s completely normal. They don’t get a lot of leaves, but those you get should be long and strappy. The thick leave could be the flower stalk. If so, it should have a kind of arrow head on the top.

January 3, 2014 at 8:46 pm
(7) Terri Tedford says:

I bought a bulb that was in rocks/water but there was no stem or leaves. The water stunk, so I poured the whole thing in the sink. There was a plastic stand that was supporting the bulb, there was no roots and part of the bottom is mushy. It is January and we have too much winter to put it outside, should I put it back in the vase with the stand and the rocks and add water. or should I use soil. or just let it sit and dry out?

January 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm
(8) gardening says:

Sounds like your bulb was starting to rot. It may come back, if the rot hasn’t gone too deep. I’d let the bulb dry before doing anything more. You should be able to grow it in water, although I prefer soil. If you put it back in the water, keep the water level about 1 in. below the top of the bulb or it will start to rot again. Roots should sprout first and they should be kept under water.

It might be easier to just pot it up – again only to about 1 in. below the top of the bulb. Water occasionally, when the soil is completely dry, and watch for signs of sprouting. Good luck!

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