Horticulture Hotline—508.869.6111 x104

Staffed by the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association

Questions about quinces? Concerns about Camellias? Call the HortLine on Wednesdays, 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and speak to Master Gardeners regarding plant and gardening issues, or leave a voicemail at this extension to be returned during HortLine hours. You may also send questions by email to hortline@towerhillbg.org.

A recently asked question:

I received a beautiful amaryllis for Christmas.
How do I care for it so it will bloom again next year?

Amaryllis are wonderful houseplants that, unlike poinsettias, are relatively easy to grow and will bloom again year after year if given proper care. After the flowers fade, you can cut the stalk to the base of the bulb, but keep the plant watered, and in bright, indirect light. When the danger of frost is past, amaryllis benefit from an “outdoor vacation.” Put the plant outside, gradually introducing it to sunlight (else the leaves will burn), until it becomes acclimated to direct sunlight. You should situate the plant in a sunny spot. Amaryllis perform best if their roots are constricted, so you should keep it in the pot, but you can sink the plant, pot and all, into the ground if you wish. During the growing season, you should water regularly and provide fertilizer—either a slow-release granule directly on the surface of the soil, or a regular feeding of liquid fertilizer.

After Labor Day, withhold watering and bring the plant indoors. The leaves will die and the plant will become dormant, and you can store it in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight—like a basement—but keep it from freezing. You can even remove the bulb from the pot entirely, brush off the soil (but don’t use water), and store it in the crisper of a refrigerator, so long as you don’t have apples in the same refrigerator. After about 3 months, you can repot the bulb if you removed it, and gradually begin watering again, introduce the plant to light, and you’ll likely be rewarded with a new flower stalk! Plant the bulb about 8 weeks before you want it to bloom.