Understanding amaryllis dormancy is key to helping your plant bloom consistently year after year.
In this guide, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about this natural part of your plant’s life cycle, including the timing, how to care for your dormant amaryllis, and how to revive it after.
I’ll also tell you how to spot the difference between a dead Hippeastrum and one that’s hibernating, so you don’t accidentally discard the bulb when it’s still perfectly healthy.
Does Amaryllis Go Dormant?
In their natural habitat, amaryllis (Hippeastrum) plants go dormant as the temperature cools down in the fall or early winter. This rest period helps them restore their energy so they can bloom. But they don’t always go dormant on their own.
If yours is indoors, consistent watering and warm temperatures will encourage it to stay awake. In that case, it will just continue growing leaves and probably won’t flower.
Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because they do make lovely green houseplants (which is what mine were for many years before I learned about their dormancy cycle).
Should I Let My Amaryllis Go Dormant?
If your amaryllis starts going dormant on its own, then you should definitely let it happen naturally, rather than attempt to stop it, even if it’s the wrong time of year.
Trying to prevent it or keep your plant awake by adding more water, light, fertilizer, or heat could end up damaging or killing the bulb, and you don’t want to risk doing that.
Related Post: How To Care For An Amaryllis Plant
Do Amaryllis Bulbs Need To Go Dormant?
Unlike many other bulbs, amaryllis plants don’t actually need a rest period. The plant will continue to grow just fine without it, and it may even flower for you occasionally.
However, they do flower more reliability, and the display is much more impressive if the bulbs have a proper rest period in the fall. Plus you can time it for the perfect holiday display every year.
Related Post: How To Get Your Amaryllis To Rebloom (8 Easy Steps!)
When To Put Amaryllis In Dormancy
In their native habitat, Hippeastrums hibernate in the fall through early winter, depending on the weather. So you should mimic that natural timeframe.
To time it for the holidays, put your amaryllis into dormancy 10-14 weeks before you want the flowers to open. So, for Christmas blooms, that would be sometime in September.
How Long Do Amaryllis Need To Be Dormant?
On average, the bulbs need to be dormant for 6 to 8 weeks. This gives them time to rest and regenerate their energy.
How long they will actually stay dormant is another thing, and the timeline can vary. Sometimes they’ll start to wake up earlier than 6 weeks, or it can take longer than 8.
So check on your amaryllis often during hibernation for ones that might be waking up early, and also be patient – don’t give up on the slowpokes.
Related Post: How To Grow Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs
How To Prepare Amaryllis For Dormancy
To get your plant ready for hibernation, reduce the amount of water you give it and stop fertilizing in late summer. The leaves might start turning yellow or brown, or they may stay green.
Sometime in late September, move your amaryllis to a cool (45-60°F), dark, and dry location indoors, even if the plant is still green and healthy looking. An unfinished basement or unheated garage are perfect.
You can use pruning shears to cut all of the leaves off right away, or wait until they die back on their own before you remove them. Whichever you prefer.
Why Won’t My Amaryllis Go Dormant?
If your Hippeastrum won’t go dormant, that means it’s getting too much warmth, water, and light.
If this is the case for yours, move it to a dark closet, basement, or garage and stop watering it all together. Eventually it will decide to rest.
You can also take more drastic measures. Cut off all of the leaves and dig up the bulb, then store it bare-root in a box or other dark container. Learn how to properly store your amaryllis bulbs here.
How Can You Tell If Amaryllis Is Dormant?
You’ll know when your plant begins its rest period because the leaves will start turning yellow in the fall. Then they’ll eventually shrivel, turn brown, and die back completely, leaving you with nothing but a bulb in the soil.
So, unlike some other plants that just stop growing during this time, it’s pretty obvious when an amaryllis is dormant.
Related Post: How To Grow Amaryllis In Water
Is My Amaryllis Dead Or Dormant?
There are a couple of different ways to tell whether your plant is dead or dormant, and you’ll know pretty quickly which one it is.
First, consider the season. If the foliage is dying back in late summer or early fall, then your plant is probably entering its rest period. Otherwise it may be dying.
Next, check the bulb itself. If it feels plump and firm and you can see healthy white tissue, that means it’s still alive. Otherwise, if it’s soft and mushy or smells bad, then it is probably suffering from rot and dying instead.
Related Post: What To Do With An Amaryllis After It Blooms
How To Care For Dormant Amaryllis
Fortunately, there’s not too much you need to do to care for your amaryllis bulbs during their rest period.
Simply check on them once a month to make sure that they are not drying out too much or staying too wet.
Monitor the temperature too. It should stay under 60°F (15-16°C) and above 45°F (7°C). If the bulbs get too warm or too cold, they may rot.
Do You Water Amaryllis During Dormancy?
Since their rest period is so short, you shouldn’t have to water your amaryllis at all during dormancy, especially large bulbs.
However, if the bulb begins to shrivel considerately, you can spritz it lightly with a plant mister to rehydrate it.
Otherwise, if yours is in a pot, lightly moisten the soil, but only if it’s bone dry. In either case, do not to get your bulb overly wet or it can rot.
When To Bring Amaryllis Out Of Dormancy
You should bring your amaryllis out of dormancy 6 to 8 weeks after you put it in the dark, or earlier if it starts to grow on its own.
Don’t worry if you don’t see any signs of life when you first bring it out. It can take another 4-6 weeks for them to wake up and start sprouting new leaves again.
How To Revive A Dormant Amaryllis
To wake up your plant, first pot it up if you stored it bare-root. Then give it a good drink to rehydrate it, allowing the excess water to drain from the pot.
Move it to a bright location in your home where it will get plenty of sunlight. If the room is too dark, use a grow lamp to supplement.
As soon as you see new growth appearing, you can resume your normal watering schedule.
How Long Does It Take For An Amaryllis To Break Dormancy?
Your amaryllis bulb may begin to break dormancy within a couple of days, or it can take a few weeks, depending on the conditions. On average, it takes 4-6 weeks for them to bloom.
It will take longer if they’re in a cold or dark room. So to speed things up, make sure your bulb gets plenty of light and warmth. You can run a space heater in the room, or try placing a heat mat under the pot.
Below are my answers to the most frequently asked questions about amaryllis dormancy. If you don’t see yours listed, please ask in the comments below.
What time of year do amaryllis go dormant?
In their natural habitat, amaryllis go dormant in the fall or early winter. This is when the cooler temperatures and shorter days tell them it’s time to take a rest.
What do you do with amaryllis after dormancy?
You can wait for your amaryllis plant to wake up on its own after dormancy, or take steps to revive it yourself. These include watering it, giving it a dose of a fertilizer or compost tea, and moving it to a warm location with plenty of bright light or sunshine.
How long do amaryllis bulbs need to rest?
Amaryllis bulbs need to rest for between 6 to 8 weeks to generate enough energy to form flower buds.
How long can amaryllis stay dormant?
Amaryllis bulbs can stay dormant up to 12 months without any issues, as long as you store them properly. However, for the best results, I recommend planting them every year, otherwise they will dry out and eventually die.
How do you keep amaryllis bulbs dormant?
To keep amaryllis bulbs dormant you need to place them in a dark location with a steady temperature between 45 and 60°F (7-16°C). The best places include an unfinished basement, heated garage, or cool closet.
When should I bring my amaryllis out of the dark?
Bring your amaryllis bulbs out of the dark after 6-8 weeks of dormancy, or around 4 to 6 weeks before you want them to flower.
If you want to learn all there is to know about maintaining healthy indoor plants, then you need my Houseplant Care eBook. It will show you everything you need to know about how to keep every plant in your home thriving. Download your copy now!
More About Overwintering Plants
Share your tips about amaryllis dormancy in the comments section below.