Amaryllis bulbs are a common holiday gift, that by February, are done blooming and all you are left with are multiple long strap-like leaves and a dried up flower stalk or two. With proper care and attention these bulbs will live to produce another bloom next holiday season. The rounded flower stalk will be growing straight up and holding the remains of the past blossom. Cut this off an inch or two above the top of the bulb. Do NOT cut off the strap-like leaves. The leaves are the food factory where photosynthesis happens. The leaves take energy from the sun, converting into carbohydrates to be stored in the large bulb, making next year’s flower. Place the pot containing the bulbs and leaves in a sunny south-facing window for best light. Water when the top inch or so of soil is dry to the touch and do not let the pot sit in water as it could rot the bulb. Treat the plant with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer monthly. Potted amaryllis can be kept inside as a houseplant or moved outside for the summer. It can also be removed from the pot and planted directly in the ground in a semi-shady to full-sun location after slowly letting it get used to the stronger light. Dig the bulb back up before the danger of the first frost sometime in September. Now is the time cut off all of the leaves and place it in a cool (40 to 50 degree F) and dark place, such as a basement closet or shelf. Leave it there for 8 to 10 weeks. No water or light during this time will put the plant into dormancy. Be sure to mark you calendar to bring it out of hiding, pot it up with new potting soil, provide it with water and sun, then wait for new growth. It can take up to two months before you see the swollen head of the flower stalk appear but the leaves sometimes appear first. Weaker bulbs that did not receive enough sun the year before may not rebloom and will need another year of full sun on their leaves to grow a larger bulb.
I did not mark my calendar and forgot to take out my amaryllis this year. Imagine my surprise at opening the basement cabinet to find a pure white stalk and leaves and bright red flower bud trying to grow out of the dark into the sliver of light where the door meets the frame! without the light the plant was unable to produce green chlorophyll resulting in only white cell growth.