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The amaryllis is one of the indoor plants with the largest calyxes - the brightly colored flowers of the onion flower, also known as knight's star, can grow up to 28 centimeters in diameter. The plants are in their glorious splendor around the Christmas period, but are often discarded after flowering. This is not necessary, because with the right expertise, the amaryllis can be made to bloom several times - not only in winter, but even in summer. This article explains how this works best.


Amaryllis or knight star?

When an “amaryllis” is mentioned, the knight star (Hippeastrum vittatum) is usually meant. Botanically speaking, it belongs to the Amaryllidaceae plant family, but it is a separate genus with 70 different species and over 600 cultivated forms. In the botanical sense, the actual amaryllis is the African belladonna lily (Amaryllis belladonna). But even if the name is basically not correct, it can still be retained: after all, everyone knows which plant is meant by it.

Extra tip:

Whether belladonna lily or knight star: be very careful with both houseplants, especially if you have pets and / or small children at home. Hippeastrum in particular is highly toxic and can cause skin irritation if the skin comes into contact with the plant sap. If only a few pieces of the onion are eaten, this can even have fatal consequences. So make sure you always wear gloves when handling the plant and, above all, keep it out of the reach of children and cats.

life cycle

The Life Cycle of Amaryllis

The life cycle of amaryllis differs from that of native plants. This is shown, among other things, by the fact that the flower blooms around Christmas time. The colorful splendor often shows up into March, after which the plant can also be cultivated outside through the summer. From the end of August, however, the amaryllis needs a resting phase of around eight weeks at around five to a maximum of ten degrees Celsius. Only this stimulates the plant to bloom again - and the cycle starts all over again.

Extra tip:

However, not all onions can be cultivated perennial and encouraged to bloom again. This applies to some varieties of amaryllis, but also to prepared bulbs. Sometimes amaryllis bulbs are coated with a colored varnish, which makes them unusable for further flowering. Onions infected with fungal spores are also not suitable for further cultivation. You can recognize them by the black stripes or spots.


After flowering is before flowering: care for the amaryllis properly

So that you can continue to enjoy your amaryllis in the years to come, it needs the right care that is adapted to its life cycle.

Caring for amaryllis in summer

After cutting, the amaryllis should be in a bright but not directly sunny window seat - preferably an east or west-facing window. In addition, the plant should be watered regularly and always when the substrate has already dried off on the surface. From around the end of April / beginning of May, you can also start supplying the plant with a liquid fertilizer for tropical flowering plants every two weeks. Fertilization is continued until July and then stopped.

Extra tip:

With a bit of luck and good care, you can get the amaryllis to bloom even in summer. To do this, place the plant outside in a warm and bright place from the end of May / beginning of June (depending on the weather and weather conditions). Gradually get the plant used to the sun by placing it in the light shade or semi-shade for only a few hours at first. You can also bury the amaryllis in the ground together with the plant pot (which should definitely have drainage holes at the bottom of the pot). The pot protects the bulb from greedy pests such as voles. If the amaryllis is well watered and fertilized, it often develops a summer bloom.

To cut

Prune amaryllis after flowering

This includes pruning the plant after flowering. This step is necessary so that the exhausted plant can save energy and thus replenish its reserves. Faded flowers should be removed as soon as possible to counteract energy-sapping fruit and seed formation. Instead, the amaryllis can draw strength for a quick, renewed bloom - maybe even in the following summer. Cut the withered knight star as follows, using a sharp and sanitized knife.

  • immediately cut off any withered flowers from the main stem
  • also remove the short stem of the inflorescence
  • Only remove the main stalk when it has turned yellow
  • before that, the plant pulls out any nutrients that are still present
  • Cut off the main stem about five centimeters above the onion

You should also remove yellowish and dried leaves in good time: On the one hand, these rob the plant of its strength, but on the other hand they can also become a gateway for fungi and other pathogens. For the same reason, the cutting tool should also be as clean and disinfected as possible so that any spores and germs that may be adhering to it are not transferred to a healthy plant. However, green leaves remain on the plant.

rest break

Fall dormancy prepares for new flowering

From August, the amaryllis will gradually enter the dormant phase, which should last at least six to eight weeks. Only when this dormant period takes place can you finally enjoy the wonderful flowering in winter. In order for the project to succeed, it is best to proceed as follows.

  • Stop fertilizing from the end of July
  • also gradually reduce the watering
  • Cut off faded flower heads
  • Only remove the main shoot and leaves when they have yellowed
  • leave green leaves on the plant
  • Bring amaryllis indoors when most of the leaves have died
  • and/or the temperatures are below 15 °C
  • Put the amaryllis in a cool, dark place
  • at temperatures of around five to ten degrees Celsius
  • a dark basement (not a boiler room!) is ideal
  • do not water and do not fertilize

After about eight weeks - i.e. in November - you can bring the plant out of its dormant phase by repotting it in fresh substrate and putting it back in a bright and warm place.

Extra tip:

If you don't have a cool, dark room for the amaryllis to rest, you can store the naked bulb in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. But then you should not store any fruit there - especially no apples - because their vapors can sterilize the tuber and thus prevent it from flowering again.

bring to bloom

Pot the amaryllis and bring them to bloom

Repotting after the dormant phase is the starting signal for the leaves and flowers to sprout again. It takes about five to eight weeks before the first flowers can be seen - so if you stick to the schedule, you can expect it in time for Christmas. Do not forget to water the onion vigorously after potting and to water and fertilize it regularly afterwards. However, you should carefully avoid waterlogging, as this leads to root rot and thus to the death of the plant. First place the freshly potted amaryllis in a cool place between 13 and 18 °C and only gradually acclimate them to normal room temperature. Now it should also work with the new flowering.

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