How to Save an Amaryllis Bulb

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Leave naked ladies or belladonna lilies (Amaryllis belladonna) and amaryllises (Hippeastrum spp.) planted in the ground over the winter where they are hardy. Save an amaryllis or naked lady bulb in cooler climates, or when grown indoors, by forcing it to go dormant for six to eight weeks in the fall. It will grow again when it has had the rest it needs.

Winter Rest

Naked ladies are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 9. Amaryllises are hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11, although the bulb should be covered with several inches of organic mulch for winter protection in USDA zone 8. They go dormant naturally in the fall and begin growing in the spring after their cool rest requirement has been met. In cooler climates, they can be grown in the garden, but the winter temperatures are too cold to leave them in the ground.

Warning

  • Both naked lady and amaryllis bulbs are poisonous when ingested, and the sap from leaves and stems of naked ladies can cause a serious rash. Keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

Saving an Outdoor Amaryllis Bulb

Lift the naked lady or amaryllis bulb in the fall just before the first hard frost. Naked ladies go completely dormant and lose their foliage by this time of year. Mark where the bulb is while it is still blooming to make it easier to locate. Amaryllis foliage will be declining at this time, but there should still be enough left to easily locate the bulb.

Push a shovel or spade straight down into the soil all the way around the naked lady or amaryllis bulb about 6 inches away from it. Push the shovel or spade into the soil again and lift the bulb. Brush or gently shake the soil off the bulb. Set the bulb in a cool area where there is plenty of air circulation.

Trim off any foliage left on the amaryllis bulb after it begins to dry and turn brown. Use scissors or pruners sterilized with household disinfectant. Rinse the disinfectant off with plain water; otherwise, it could damage the bulb. Cut the leaves about 1 inch above the bulb.

Put 2 to 3 inches of dry sphagnum peat moss in the bottom of a cardboard box or plastic container. Set the bulb on top. Pour another 2 to 3 inches of peat over the bulb. Put the box or container in a dark area where it will stay dry.

Maintain temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for a naked lady bulb or 40 to 55 F for an amaryllis bulb during the dormant period. Plant the amaryllis or naked lady bulb back in the garden after the last spring frost.

Saving an Indoor Amaryllis Bulb

Cut the amaryllis or naked lady flower stem 1 inch above the bulb with sterilized scissors or pruners when it fades. Continue to maintain the amaryllis like a houseplant during the spring and summer, watering it when the top inch of soil dries. The leaves will keep growing and storing nutrients in the bulb. Water a naked lady bulb after it finishes blooming only when the soil is completely dry.

Stop watering after mid-September. Leave the bulb in its container, but put it in a low-light area where temperatures stay between 60 and 65 F for one to two weeks. As the amaryllis foliage shrivels, use sterilized scissors or pruners to cut it off 1 inch above the bulb. By mid-September, a naked lady bulb will no longer have leaves.

Move the bulb to a dark area. Maintain temperatures between 40 and 55 F for an amaryllis bulb and between 55 and 70 F for a naked lady bulb. Check the bulb for new leaf growth once or twice each week after it has been dormant for three to four weeks. It will begin to grow after it has had enough rest. Move the amaryllis or naked lady bulb to a bright, sunny area with temperatures between 70 and 75 F when new foliage appears. Water it when the soil begins to dry.

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