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December 17, 2016

QuestionI have a question about Amaryllis. Are they poisonous for cats? Mine like to nibble on everything and I was told that Amaryllis is poisonous. I know about Poinsettias, they can make them sick, but they will "only" throw up (thanks, but they do that enough without any help).  I love the Amaryllis, but have been hesitant to get any.

AnswerAmaryllis plants do contain narcissine and other alkaloids which can cause vomiting or other gastric issues.  They are considered to cause mild to moderate symptoms.   Many houseplants can be toxic to pets, so if you want plants, you may need to train the cat to not eat them or try silk flowers or catnip to interest them elsewhere.


(February 2011)

QuestionI had several beautiful amaryllis plants over the holidays. Now that they are done blooming, what do I do with the bulbs so they will bloom again.


AnswerAfter bloom, cut off the bloom stalk, but leave the foliage in-tact. Allow it to get as much sunlight as possible and water as needed. When spring arrives (if it ever does!) move the plant outside. You can plant the bulb in the ground or grow it in a container outside. Give it full morning sun and afternoon shade—that will help you keep it watered. Fertilize monthly until September. At that point, you have two options. One is to leave it planted in the ground and mulch heavily after a frost, or bring the bulb inside, stop watering and allow the foliage to die down. Once dormant, ignore it for a while. The amaryllis bulb has a mind of its own and will start growing when it is good and ready. When you see a sprout beginning in the center of the bulb, increase sunlight and water. You should see a flower in 6-8 weeks. Then you repeat the process.

(October 2005)

QuestionIn trying to get a jump on the holidays, I have just purchased four amaryllis bulbs. However, I see that they need to be planted six to eight weeks before they bloom. Well, that is just a bit premature for the Christmas table!! So, my dilemma is this, what shall I do with them until time to plant? I have placed them in the crisper, but; I may be on the wrong track. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


AnswerI would not try to chill the bulbs, or you may slow things down too much. Amaryllis bulbs have a mind of their own, and will start growing when they are ready to—sometimes you can’t impact that too much. If you keep them unpotted, dry and on the cool side, you shouldn’t see too much growth. However, I have seen them try to complete their life cycle in the box unopened, from those purchased too late after the holidays. When you are ready, pot them up, move them to a warmer location and give them a little water and light. When you see the new growth beginning, add extra water. You should have a bloom within six weeks after you see signs of new growth beginning. If the bulbs are kept too warm once they begin to grow, you may find they grow even taller than normal, making it a challenge to keep them upright. Also, rotate the container periodically to prevent leaning.


(December 2008)

QuestionI have been growing the tropical type of Amaryllis for the last 10 years, the one you grow for Christmas, outside. They bloom, and multiply in the ground! I haven’t found a particular hardy variety, and I have a mix of red, pink/white, red/white and solid white. Methinks our winters are becoming much more "tropical".


AnswerYou are not alone. Many folks statewide have been having luck getting the holiday amaryllis plants to overwinter outdoors and re-bloom in the garden. Just make sure winter soil drainage is good and plant them in the spring after frost has passed so they have a chance to establish before winter sets in.


(December 2005)

QuestionMy triple-bloom amaryllis fell over during the night and broke the flower stalk off. Is the bulb reusable? If so, what is needed?


AnswerThis is not an unusual occurrence on amaryllis. The flowers are large and come with three to five blooms per stalk, so the plants are often top-heavy and fall over if left unsupported. Cut off the flower stalk and use it as a cut flower. The foliage should be emerging, and you may even be lucky and have another flower spike. Let the foliage grow. Give it a sunny window and regular water. Once spring arrives, move it outdoors, fertilize every month or two through August, then let the foliage die back and start the cycle over again next fall/winter. The bulb should not be damaged, just the flower stalk. Next time, be sure to turn it periodically to keep it from leaning, and consider weighting the pot a bit to keep it stable, or provide staking.


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