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Water-grown amaryllis ready to bloom a fifth season with challenges

The roots of my amaryllis Leafy after fertilizer shock in a July 30, 2018 photo.There are so many reasons that I have failed to post an update on Leafy until now.


Somewhere, there is a picture of Leafy in bloom last year, but I never posted it because an SUV crashed into my car and totaled it at about the same time.

Anyway, the good news is that the crash didn't kill me, and the fertilizer didn't kill Leafy.

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Forcing amaryllis bulbs in water: Reblooming for a fourth season

A water-grown 'Double King' amaryllis bulb grows toward the sunlight through a sliding glass door. 'Double King' amaryllis bulb grown in water will rebloom for fourth year.

Well, that's the headline, but my pet amaryllis Leafy does not look as sturdy as it did in its first year of bloom. This year's slender flower stalk is the thinnest ever. 

I can tell before the flower emerges that Leafy needs fortification. The sun alone did not give this water-grown bulb enough energy to make a stem as healthy as its first year of water-forced blooming.

I have grown Leafy in plain water since 2014, and this year I believe I am seeing the result of insufficient nutrients.

In 2015, the first year the bulb bloomed on water in my possession, leaves emerged along with the flower stem. So far, this year, there's only a flower stem. Last year, the leaves came a bit later, so maybe the same will happen this year.

However, the bulb seems to be as tall at the end of March as it was in early April last year. We'll see what happens next month. 

At any rate, I will be testing the effect of putting a little fertilizer in water with hopes of improving both flowers and foliage growth from the bulb. 

If Leafy's growth doesn't seem stronger as a result, I might need to plant the bulb in the ground, as suggested by Hans Langeveld, co-owner of Longfield Gardens, which was the source of the bulb. 

In the meantime, I will keep looking into the bulb's neck for signs of emerging leaves. And I'll turn it as needed to encourage upright growth as the flower stem leans into the sunlight.





Amaryllis bulb grown in water for years prepares to bloom again

A flower stem emerges. The taller bottom framework of the new patio door required a taller temporary stand for my water-grown bulb. Sometimes life seems really hard. Like when the second day of spring is marked by a snow emergency, and that comes about a week after someone in a big SUV makes a bad turn and wipes out your trusty Toyota.


On such days, being alive to see the falling snow and your pet plant preparing for another year of bloom offers a reason to be thankful and  hopeful.


To catch up any first-timers, my pet amaryllis bulb, Leafy, has been growing mostly indoors and always in plain water since December 2014.


Last summer, I was advised to give some direct outdoor sunlight to the leaves that came after my 'Double King' amayllis bulb's third flowering. I was also advised to put in fertilizer with water changes for this well-rooted bulb. I kept forgetting.


So I decided to see if only giving the bulb's leaves some days of outdoor air and sunlight would improve what I hope will be this year's flowering.


I snipped off the bulb's last withered leaf on Feb. 1, about two months later than usual. The leaves usually begin to wither in early fall, and I am wondering if their lasting longer is a product of increased sunlight.


At the beginning of March, I looked down into the bulb's top and saw the first signs of a flower stem emerging.  In the March 12 photo shown, Leafy is displaying a characteristic purple blush on the tip of a sturdy purple stem. Yes, Leafy, is a handsome plant.


This year, I promise to begin fertilizer as soon as any flowering has passed. I'll also keep more detailed records and try to post more frequently.


In the meantime, does anyone have a nice car to sell?



Forcing amaryllis bulbs in water for repeat bloom: A Leafy update 

My 'Double King' amaryllis bulb in a Nov. 2017 photo and a Nov. 2016 photo (right). The shorter 2017 leaves, I believe, resulted from days outside.

I have been growing the same 'Double King' amaryllis bulb in plain water since December 2014. It has become a pet houseplant, named Leafy, and it has flowered each spring (three seasons) since then with diligent weekly water changes.

This winter, I didn't have time to experiment with forcing hyacinths in water or forcing tulips in water, so I'm really counting on Leafy to bloom again this year.  

As promised in a post months ago, I called up Hans Langeveld from Longfield Gardens in Lakewood for tips on improving Leafy's health, as the lone survivor of three amaryllis bulbs I got from his nursery in 2014.

The conversation took place way back in June, and I took notes on this expert grower's advice. 

But I didn't do most of what he advised for various reasons. 'Splash' and 'Magnum' gone, but not forgotten.


For one thing, he suggested that in the fall I chop off the very leaves that give the bulb its name to put Leafy into dormancy. (Pipe up shock-horror music recalling how I previously killed the other two amaryllis bulbs trying to do just that.)


But the first thing he wanted me to do was to plant Leafy outside.


“You don't want to go back to soil?” he asked almost incredulously with his gentle lingering accent.

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Amaryllis bulb reblooms third year indoors as water-grown houseplant 

Amaryllis bulb kept indoors all year reblooms on water alone

I know others are growing flower bulbs in water, but I have not checked to see if anyone has kept a bulb indoors with its roots in water for years.

Shown are photos of the flowering of my pet bulb, Leafy. This 'Double King' amaryllis has lived with its roots in plain water for nearly three years in front of a sunny sliding glass door in the kitchen. Named for the 2- to 3-foot-long leaves it grows after the flowers fade, the bulb came to me as a testing specimen in the fall of 2014 with two other bulbs that I accidentally let perish. I was drying them out following the traditional instructions to rebloom amaryllis. 

Leafy has increased in size since last year, when the bulb felt somewhat small and fragile beneath its dried layers. Some of the bulb's  papery skin slipped off when I removed it from the top of its vase for the most recent water change. Below is a closeup of what the bulb looks like after years of growing without soil.

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