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Sunday
Mar312019

Forcing amaryllis bulbs in water: Repeat bloom in progress for a fifth year

The 2019 flower bud is preparing to open (shown right), nearly a month earlier than last year, when my pet bulb, Leafy, was in full bloom on April 28. This will be the bulb's fifth year of bloom as an indoor, water-grown  houseplant. 

For comparison, the top photo on the left shows flowers preparing to open on April 25, 2017, which means the bulbs opened on roughly the same date for at least the previous two years.  Don't have enough time now to go back and research the earlier bloom dates, but I've been writing about the plant since 2014, so that's all here somewhere!

The photo of Leafy on the right above was taken today, obviously a bit farther along in the bloom cycle than the 2017 photo. But barring some catastrope, the flower will bloom this week, at the start of April, and nearly a month earlier than the previous two years.

Those who have followed these sporadic posts about my water-grown bulbs already know that I have been lamenting Leafy's obvious decline in the vigor over the years. I have kept in water since I got it back in the fall of 2014. Its first year, fresh from expert nursery care, it produced two flower stalks that were thick and compact.

On water alone, the bulb has nevertheless managed to bloom every spring since then, albeit not as robustly as that first year. This year's bloom is under close watch with last year's unfortunate fertilizer fail.  The photo at left, shows Leafy with last year's single leaf. At right, a shot of the slime that developed on the roots after I put a tiny bit of fertilzer in the water. If you look near the bottom of the bulb, you can see the first of the emergency roots it needed to send out to survive. I have said I believe the bulb only produced one leaf because it had to put so much energy into developing a new root system.

It did survive with that single leaf, and it surprised me with another flower stalk. The larger of this year's flower buds looks healthy and is much larger than the second. The smaller bud is slightly less colorful, perhaps not as strong. Hopefully it will increase in size over the next few days. Even if it doesn't, it still will be a pleasure to witness a small miracle in its ability to flower for a fifth year despite so many challenges.

I've said I will plant Leafy to improve the bulb's condition, but anyone who grows amaryllis bulbs outdoors in soil knows they need to be dug up and brought inside for winter protection. I'm not sure how that would work in this case, and it would require some expert guidance and research. We'll see.

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