Q. Using your guidance, I “forced” amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs during the holidays. It was wonderful watching the growth, and most of all, how easy it was to have these lovely plants indoors. Now the paperwhites have finished blooming, and the leaves are very long. The stalk holding the amaryllis flower is yellowing and getting lazy droopy. So, what do I do with these plants now? – E.G., Albuq.
A. You have two options. First would be pitch the plants. Harsh sounding, I know, but if you don’t want to tend them or have the room, that might be the way to go. Or you can keep them, making them welcome additions to both your outdoor landscaping and indoor houseplant collection.
Let’s tackle the amaryllis first. To begin you’ll want to cut out that yellowing bloom stalk. Snip out that stalk as close to the bulb as you possibly can without cutting any of the plant’s leaves. The leaves are needed to re-feed the bulb. With the stalk removed, you might consider potting the bulb into a pot that is a smidgen larger than its “forcing” container is originally. Meaning, if it’s in a 4- to- 5-inch pot, find one that is a wee bit larger, remembering that the pot must drain. Don’t go nuts offering it too much room though.
Sprinkle a shallow layer of pebbles or potshards into the new container and then fill about a third full of fresh potting soil. Unpot the bulb and give the roots a good look see. Any black, squishy roots need to be trimmed away. If there is a large amount of healthy, fleshy roots they could be trimmed so the bulb would fit with more ease. If the roots are trimmed, you’ll need to lay the bulb down for 6- to- 12-hours so the clipped ends seal before continuing.