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Goodnight Amaryllis, See You On The Encore

Just as you are told to start breaking the dormancy of your rootstocks such as cannas and begonias, you are now told that it is time to start the journey of putting your Christmas extravaganza, Amaryllis belladonna, to bed. Now, don't get all upset, it is easier than you may think. With a little water and a lot of neglect, you can have its' glory all over again. Who wouldn't want a second chance at a  50cm+ high plant that balances 4-8 giant blossoms on it at once! Cleaning out the winter "BLAUGHS!" does not require you to throw out a perfectly good bulb. These giants are capable of re-blooming for as many as 75years if cared for properly. Now, like a child, it needs some coaxing and cooing before the decline into slumber. A few tried and true tips and it is off to the sandman for your amaryllis.

Step 1: Deadhead
  If you have not removed the spent flower heads already, now is the time to do it. At this point they may already look like seed pods. Simply use scissors or secateurs and snip right up to the stalk of the bulb until all of the blooms are spent. At this point it is safe to cut the stalk to 1 inch above the bulb. Do not be alarmed by the sap; this is normal and will taper off. Leaves should start to appear shortly. The bulb is now able to focus all of its energy into recharging instead of seed production.

Step 2: Charging the Bulb
Because the Amaryllis belladonna is native to South Africa, it needs to be kept in a warm window. This is one of the very few bulbs that does not need a cold period for dormancy. Simply keep in a sunny window, keep watered but do not allow sitting in water because this will cause rot to your amaryllis. Once weather warms and is past risk of frost, place potted bulb out with your other plants. Allow to charge for about 4-6 months. At the end of August, stop watering; this is what is going to send the bulb to sleep.

Step 3: Storage
Once the leaves have died back, clip back to the bulb as close as possible to minimize moisture and rot. Allow bare bulb to "BAKE" in the sun for a few days in its pot. This is kind of like a curing process. It is now time to place in cool, dry place such as a root cellar, basement or garage until October.

Step 4: Good morning!
To wake your bulb from sleep, simply take out from storage, water and place in a warm area. It is not necessary to place in direct sunlight at this point since you are only awakening the plant. Once there is growth present, you may then place in sunny window and enjoy your blooms once again!

Although this sounds like a lot of work, really, you are only watering and sunning it until the leaves dry up and the bulb has charged itself. Not bad for such a stunning show when all other garden life has long since disappeared for the winter.

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