Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Forcing amaryllis to bloom (for Stephanie)

My blogger-friend from Malaysia - Stephanie - wanted to know how to force amaryllis to bloom. So here's what I did when I wanted to have blooming amaryllis for Lunar New Year.
The plant to be "forced-bloom" must have at least 6 healthy leaves and must not have bloomed for the immediate past 10 months leading to the time of the "forcing".
The whole "forcing process" will take around 16 weeks, so if suppose you want to have blooming amaryllis during Lunar New Year, you must start the process 4 months earlier. This is what to do, step by step.
Step 1: Dig the plant out of the soil, or pot and wash off all the dirt but leave the roots in tact.
Step 2: Cut off the foliage leaving a "neck" of about 3cm above the bulb.
Step 3: Hang the bulb, upside down, in the shade to dry for 1 week.
Step 4: After 1 week, wrap the bulb in newspaper and place it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 8 weeks. Remember to mark the newspaper with the date you wrap the bulb so you remember. Also, don't store any fruit in the fridge during this time lest the bulb can be damaged by the gas from the ripening fruit.
Step 5: After 8 weeks, take the bulb out, clean off any dried roots and leave behind those whitish, still-fresh ones.

Step 6: Place the bulb on top of a glass of water, with the whitish roots dangling in the water for 24 hours. Take care not to let the basal plate touch the water lest it might get rotted.

Step 7: Plant the bulb, which by now have all the whitish roots swollen up, in a pot of good potting soil. Remember to water the pot of soil thoroughly before planting and not to bury the whole bulb in the soil.

Step 8: Place the potted bulb in shade, but don't water for 2-3 days. After these initial days, water sparingly until you see new growth. This new growth, if appears from the side of the bulb, is a flowering scape. If it appears at the center of the bulb, it's new leaf but soon the flowering scape will follow.
Step 9: Move the potted bulb to a brighter location and water as needed.
If everything goes right, you will have blooms from 5 to 6 weeks after planting.
This "forcing-bloom" is necessary for amaryllis plants growing in "hot and humid" climate all the year round. It is observed that those plants won't go dormant naturally so the process "helps" them to go to sleep and initiate blooms.

I have successfully forced my plants in my Saigon garden to give blooms when I wanted them to. I think you can as well, Steph.
Good luck.


Stephanie said...

Cool! Your method amazes me. Thank you, thank you for sharing and your quick response!! I did google before on this matter but I did not find a process such as this one. More importantly is your good testimony of the process and the fact that it is applicable for hot and humid climate like ours!

I have saved this great piece of info and will force in May. When I bought the plant in June last year, it just finished blooming. But if I am going to time it for Christmas then Sept only. Or since I have about six bulbs, I can break them into two batches :-D

Will definitely keep you posted. Great! THANKS again Ha Xuan!

Darla said...

This is very interesting.

Hà Xuân said...

I wish you success, Steph.

Darla: Thank you for your kind comment.

James Missier said...

I have about 20 bulbs which I have been keeping and none have bloomed for years.
I just uprooted and replanted them 2 weeks ago.
Should I do this process or take my chances in waiting as I just planted them?
Please advice.

africanaussie said...

Wow, very interesting - I have about twenty amarylis bulbs - they just keep increasing from the original 5 I first bought, and I kept thinking they would bloom soon... Wonderful advice here, I am going to have to give it a try. so glad I found your blog.

Anonymous said...

thank you very much. i did what you wrote just today so i hope to see them blooms in 4 months hehehe

ill let you know if it works out!