Dormancy: Letting your Amaryllis rest or go dormant is actually quite
misleading. Although your plant will not be growing new leaves and
photosynthesizing, it is hardly sleeping or resting. During this stage in
it's life cycle, your Amaryllis bulb is like a caterpillar spinning a cocoon,
in preparation for becoming a beautiful butterfly.
In their natural habitats, these plants go dormant as they enter into the
dry season. To conserve energy, the bulbs absorb what nutrients they
can from their leaves, much like our own trees do in the fall. As the
leaves dry up and the nutrients are absorbed, the plants prepare for the
making of flowers.
If your plant received enough light, water and fertilizer over the summer
growing season, it will have produced and stored enough sugar to
make flowers for the spring season. During this "rest" period, it will set
to work producing the immature flower buds deep inside the bulb. The
bulbs have to work hard and fast, because in only three to four months,
it will be time to produce the show we've been waiting for all year.
In the fall, stop watering your Amaryllis plants. This will encourage them
to enter into their dormant portion of their life. Once they've absorbed all
the nutrients in the leaves and they are dried up, simply remove them
from the bulbs. Leave the bulbs potted up in their pots and place them
in a cool, dry location and forget them until next spring.
A trick we have learned over the years is to lay the pot on it's side during
it's winter rest. The bulb can actually tell which side is up by the
gravitational pull of the earth! Being on their sides, the bulb detects that
something is a-miss and tricks the bulb into producing flowers when
normally it wouldn't or actually producing more flowers per bulb.
Timing: After resuming new growth, it takes 6-8 weeks to flower. So,
repotting time should be 8 weeks before you want your plant to flower.
Bulbs are forced into dormancy in August for Christmas blooms. That's
why bulbs we get at Christmas never bloom again during that time of
the year. They would have to be forced into dormancy again every
Amaryllis bulbs will naturally go dormant in the fall during the months of
October and November. They begin growing again in the February or
March and even into April. For continuous bloom from December to May,
you can actually stagger the start of dormancy every two weeks from
September to January.
Amaryllis requires a minimum of 6 weeks of dormancy to produce
flowers for the next growing season.
To induce dormancy, withhold water and lay pot on it's side in a cool
location. Bulbs will tolerate temperatures near freezing but only require
temperatures in the low 50's to insure the development of flowers.