Don't throw them out! These expensive bulbs will rebloom if you treat them right.
Amaryllis bulbs are notoriously expensive — upwards of fourteen dollars apiece. Their spectacular large blooms are as Christmas-y as poinsettias, despite both of their tropical origins. Native to South America, the amaryllis hybrids we buy like the same conditions as most houseplants, with the addition of an easy dormancy period. To get them to bloom again, just follow these steps to mimic their native cycles.
I recently potted up a bunch of my mother's old amaryllis bulbs and brought them inside for a spring bloom. Here in the Bay Area you can keep the bulbs outdoors year-round, though if you move them outside permanently it might be a few years before they flower again, and when they do it'll be late summer. When mine finish blooming, and after all chance of frost is past, I abandon them in the side yard in a sunny place where I know they'll get watered by the sprinklers. I move them again in late summer, just out of the sprinklers' reach, to start their dormancy. The dry season is what triggers amaryllis to bloom. In a few months the bulbs start sprouting new growth, which is my signal to repot them all with fresh soil, bring them inside, and start the holiday cheer again.
Here are a few more tips:
- Never let the bulbs freeze. As a tropical plant, they will die.
- Plant bulbs in separate pots no larger than twice the diameter of the bulb.
- After a few years, your bulbs may sprout daughters. When the daughter bulbs grow their own roots, you can gently break them off and pot up new bulbs.
For more detailed instructions, I recommend following instructions from the US National Arboretum. The list may look long, but over the year you spend long periods ignoring the amaryllis altogether.
(Image credits: Emil Evans)