Amaryllis popping blooms with ZERO stalk

Asked January 8, 2020, 4:29 PM EST

Hi. I have what I know is an unusual question, because web research produces nothing apropos. An amaryllis that was new in my house last year, and grew and bloomed normally and went through the same fertilization, summer outdoors, dormancy/rest period as the rest of my collection, is about to bloom (or try to) just above the neck of the bulb. Why? I have at least ten years of experience with a collection of 15-20 bulbs that I've kept going, and propagating to share. I've only seen this happen once before, on a bulb that was brand new from the distributor that season; at the time I thought, "Oh well, must've been weak." I built it up and it behaved normally afterward. No other bulbs in my collection are showing this tendency. And the bulb itself looked great when I replanted it this fall: husky, round, full. So I wonder if there's a known nutrient or environmental issue that can cause this. It seems unlikely because this bulb has received the same care as all the others, which look normal, but who knows? Web searches with various search engines (including UMN Extension) deliver no results. I know therefore that this is an unusual question, and that web searching won't address the question. Do you know an amaryllis expert who I could correspond with? Or could you refer my question to such an expert? Thank you! Joan Covington

Otter Tail County Minnesota

1 Response

Thanks for the question. It reinforces my belief that growing amaryllis is a constant learning experience. I say this from almost 20 years of experience with this plant. It sounds as if you are quite knowledgeable about amaryllis and have probably done a fair amount of research.

As you no doubt know, the ability of an amaryllis bulb to produce a flower is very dependent upon the amount of food stored in the bulb. This in turn depends upon the amount of foliage that had been produced after the previous year’s blooming. Individuals often have difficulty in getting amaryllis to bloom on an annual basis. Often this can be traced to insufficient vegetative growth in the prior season.

Here is my best guess as to what is going on. When a new bulb is purchased, as seemed to be true for you, these often are vigorous bulbs and possess a large amount of stored carbohydrate. When this occurs, a flower stalk often emerges in advance of any foliage. I suspect that this is what is occurring in your case. I don’t believe that there is any environmental factor involved. Some varieties of amaryllis frequently produce flowering stalks before any leaves. Perhaps you have one of these varieties.

Before sure that after blooming is complete, you remove the blossom but not the stem. Also provide a liquid fertilizer rich in nitrogen. This should encourage good vegetative growth that will be essential for future flowering.

I apologize for not giving you a more complete answer but I suspect that one does not exist. You may just be experiencing the vagaries of growing amaryllis.

It will be interesting to see if this particular amaryllis repeats this type of growth in subsequent years. I rather suspect that it will not.

Good Luck!!