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Amaryllis Bulb Saving Tips from BICS Student Garden Club

The flower may still have plenty of life left in it

Waxed amaryllis bulbs were a very popular gift item this year during the fall and winter. Now that the blooms have faded, many people wonder what to do with the bulbs.  

The Bowen Island Community School Garden Club found a few bulbs in the compost and wondered if the bulbs really should be composted? Or could the bulbs be re-used? Under the thick wax students found that the large bulbs were put in a stretchy plastic wrapper that might have been a balloon, they also had a metal wire base pushed into the bottom so the bulbs could rest on a tabletop.

Some of the waxed bulbs also had paint or glitter on them. The instruction tag on the waxed amaryllis bulb stated that the bulbs should be composted after blooming.

BICS Garden Club students studied the discarded bulbs and learned that an if an amaryllis bulb is given what it needs (light, some soil, water and nutrients,) that it will follow the life cycle of most bulbs, providing lovely greenery* and then it will re-grow, and it will rebloom. The average lifespan of a bulb is about 25 years, though some families report that they have been growing the same bulbs for 50 years or more!

It is easy to care for, so: don’t compost it! If you don’t want your decorative amaryllis bulbs anymore, then give them to someone who likes to grow plants at home, so it can be the gift that keeps on giving. 

How to plant: Start by cutting off the old flower stalks. If a seed pod is forming, that will take more energy away from the bulb. Garden Club students started with 3 cm of rocks, 3-5 cm of soil, and pots that weren’t more than 2-3 cm of soil around the bulb.

Plant the bulb so the top inch or so sticks up out of the soil. Fill in around the bulb with potting soil, firming it gently. Plant a bulb in a pot that isn’t too big, with potting mix and just a little potting soil on the bottom. Water just enough to fully moisten and settle the soil. 

For best results, grow your amaryllis in a relatively cool room (60-65 F°) with bright, indirect light. Expert tip: Rotating the pot every few days will help keep the stems straight. You don’t need to rotate when they are in the leaf-only stage.

*Some amaryllis will naturally go dormant and lose their leaves, don’t worry, it will come back to life. Some keep their leaves year-round. You can put an amaryllis outside during the warm summer months, but don’t forget to bring them in at the end of summer!

One of the bulbs that the garden club students planted in a pot is now so happy, it is putting up another bud stalk and will bloom again soon! So the BICS Garden Clubs students say: “Don’t throw that beautiful amaryllis bulb away, plant it and let it grow for another day... and possibly for years and years.”