Waxed amaryllis bulbs are a popular holiday gift, and it can be a joy watching the vibrant flowers emerging from the plain brown bulb. While the exotic blooms may only last for a few weeks, you can enjoy them for much longer if you take proper care of the bulbs. So, how long do waxed amaryllis bulbs last?
Waxed amaryllis bulbs can last between 6 and 10 weeks. The wax coating protects the bulb from drying out but how long each bulb lasts depends on the temperature, humidity, and light intensity. You can increase your amaryllis bulbs’ lifespan for years by removing the wax and replanting the bulb.
In this article, I’ll discuss a few topics related to waxed amaryllis bulbs, including their lifespan, what to do once they’ve bloomed, and how to replant them. I’ll also offer some tips on taking care of the waxed bulbs to ensure they last as long as possible. Let’s get started!
Understanding the Lifespan of Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs
Waxed amaryllis bulbs make beautiful flower arrangements and require minimal care because they use stored nutrients to produce blooms. They don’t need watering as compared to traditional amaryllis bulbs.
The wax coating on the bulbs is made of paraffin wax, which is commonly used to make candles. The material provides a protective layer that helps to keep the bulbs from drying out quickly and can help them last longer in drier conditions.
These waxed bulbs don’t typically carry instructions on how long they will last. A waxed amaryllis bulb typically lasts between 6 and 10 weeks. Inexperienced gardeners treat them as annuals and dispose of them afterward. It’s because as the blooms fade, the stalks will eventually turn yellow and the naturally brown bulb may look lifeless.
However, I have experienced keeping a waxed amaryllis bulb for up to two years before the blooms stopped coming. By that time, the plant may have already used up all the nutrients in the bulb. That’s when I decided to plant them in potting soil to ensure they live longer.
Factors Influencing Longevity
The paraffin wax and the bulb are both sensitive to extreme heat and intense sunlight. The longevity of the plant largely depends on the temperature in their environment, light, and humidity levels.
A temperature of around 55 to 70 °F (13 to 21 °C) is ideal, and it will take about 2 to 4 weeks for the bulb to sprout and bloom. A lower temperature will delay blooming. On the other hand, higher temperatures will dehydrate the plant sooner, resulting in shorter bloom times.
Keep your plant away from excessive heat or cold to keep it healthy and allow you to enjoy its beauty for longer.
The bulb should be placed in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep your bulbs away from direct sunlight. While some sunlight benefits growth, too much can cause the wax to melt and make the bulb dry out faster. Keep your bulbs away from heaters and direct sunlight to avoid this issue.
With optimum light intensity, you can expect a healthy waxed amaryllis bulb to produce up to 4 beautiful blooms that can last anywhere from 7 to 14 days.
Potted amaryllis bulbs require low humidity levels to thrive. But since you won’t be watering your waxed amaryllis bulbs, keep the humidity level around them between 30 and 50%. Very dry conditions can shorten the blooming time or lifespan of your bulbs.
The bulb eventually loses its bloom to the natural deterioration process and starts to wilt. After the blooms have faded, you can discard the bulb or replant it in the soil and continue to enjoy its beauty in the following years.
Planting the bulb in soil and providing proper care can extend the life of an amaryllis bulb for up to 5 years or more and allow you to enjoy beautiful blooms for years to come.
How to Maximize Their Lifespan
If you’re looking to extend the lifespan of your waxed amaryllis bulbs, you can do a few things:
Maintain the Proper Temperature
First, you need to ensure your bulbs are kept at the right temperature. Waxed amaryllis bulbs are best kept at a temperature range of 55 to 70 °F (13 to 21 °C) and shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures lower than 50 °F (10 °C) or higher than 80 °F (26 °C).
Provide Plenty of Sunlight
Place them in a sunny spot where they can get at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight daily. This will help maximize their lifespan and ensure that the blooms are of the highest quality.
You can place the bulb next to an eastern window to enjoy the bright morning light. If you have western or southern windows, you must move your plant 4-8 feet (1.2-2.4 m) away or install sheer curtains to filter the light.
Rotate Bulbs Regularly
As the plant blooms, it will need more light and can benefit from being turned or rotated by 90-180° every week. Rotating your bulbs will help them receive an even amount of light, keeping them solid and healthy. The flower stalks will grow straight and evenly, creating a more aesthetically pleasing bloom.
Avoid Excess Humidity
Keep your bulbs away from excessively humid areas. Also, avoid placing them near drafty windows or doorways. Even though waxed amaryllis bulbs need some humidity to thrive, too much can encourage mold growth, causing the bulb to rot and shortening its lifespan.
Cut off Faded Flowers
When the flowers start fading, cut them off including up to 2 inches (5 cm) of the stalk. This will prevent the flowers from going to seed and help save energy for the bulb.
Leave the rest of the green stalk attached to the bulb to photosynthesize. It will continue to draw energy and nutrients for the bulb, and removing them too soon will compromise the quality and number of future blooms.
After-Blooming Care and Dormancy
Amaryllis bulbs can bloom several times a year under suitable conditions. Even waxed amaryllis bulbs will do so after a short period of dormancy (2-3 months). This is possible if the bulbs absorb enough energy before going dormant.
Alternatively, as your amaryllis stalks and stems fade, you can replant the bulb in your outdoor garden (for USDA zones 9-11) or in a snug pot with a well-draining potting mix.
Replanting the bulb is a fantastic idea, as it allows you to keep the plant for longer. But first, you must prepare the bulbs. Here’s how:
Move the Bulb to A Cool, Dark, and Dry Area
The bulb has just finished the blooming period and will need a brief resting time of around 8-12 weeks.
Wait until the stalks and stems turn yellow and the plant stops photosynthesizing. You can then place it in a shady corner of the room or a dry closet. Ensure the temperature remains between 50 and 55 °F (10 and 13 °C) and the humidity is only 30%.
Cut off the Flower Stalks
Amaryllis bulbs produce several flower stalks. Removing them after they dry out is vital. This helps the bulb conserve energy and store nutrients for new flower stalks and blooms.
Snip off the stalks at the bulb’s base with scissors leaving about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of stem attached. You can remove the cut stalks from the bulb and discard them to make room for new flower stalks.
Remove the Wax Coating
After all the flower stalks have been removed, you need to strip off the wax coating. You can do this using a knife. Gently cut through the wax without hurting the bulb and peel off the coating with your hands as though you’re peeling an orange. If the wax is stubborn, use a pair of tweezers to remove it.
A waxed amaryllis bulb usually has a piece of metal or plastic attached to its base for stability. You should remove and discard this as it can cause the bulb to rot if kept in place when replanted.
Removing the metal or plastic piece will expose the bulb’s base, and you’ll be able to see the roots growing out of the bottom. Don’t be alarmed when you see the roots, as this signifies that the bulb is healthy and ready for replanting.
You may also find some waxed amaryllis bulbs with the bottom covered entirely with wax. Carefully remove the wax and check for roots clinging to it to ensure you don’t accidentally damage them.
Sometimes, some wax will be left due to fragile roots growing through it. In that case, you can leave the wax attached as you plant the bulb.
Forcing and removing the roots may hurt your bulb but a small piece of wax in the potting soil won’t hurt your plant. The plant will grow and by the time it needs repotting, the roots will be sturdy enough and you can remove the wax.
How to Replant the Cleaned Bulbs
Now that you’ve prepped your waxed amaryllis bulb, you can begin replanting.
Here’s how to replant your amaryllis bulb:
1. Inspect the Bulbs
Ensure your bulbs are in good condition. They should be firm but not too dry or brittle.
Carefully inspect each bulb before planting, looking for cracked, broken, or missing pieces. If small portions of the brown, outermost covering of the bulb are damaged, gently break them off with your hands. What’s important is the inner part is still light green and looks healthy.
Use a knife to cut off any dark brown or black roots and discard them.
2. Prepare the Pot and Potting Mix
Choose a pot about 1.5-2 inches (3.8-5 cm) wider than the bulb. The height should be deep enough to fill the bottom with 2 inches (5 cm) of soil while the neck of the bulb is at the level of the rim of the pot. The pot should also have drainage holes.
A mix of equal parts potting soil, compost, coco peat, and perlite is excellent for amaryllis bulbs. These plants need well-draining soil rich in organic matter.
Place 2 inches (5 cm) of moist potting mix in the pot. Put the bulb over the soil and fill in the gaps with more soil. The bulb’s neck should be visible at the soil’s surface.
3. Care for the Bulbs Properly
Proper care is crucial to ensure your amaryllis bulbs survive in their new environment. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Light: Place the pot next to a bright eastern window or a curtained southern or western window. Give the pot a quarter or a half turn every time you water the plant.
- Water: Your plant came from a zero-water environment so avoid flooding it with water right away. The moist potting mix should be enough to keep your bulb safe for the next 7-10 days. After which, you can water the plant deeply until the excess drains out. Always wait until half the pot is dry before watering again.
- Temperature: Keep indoor temperatures between 55 and 70 °F (13 and 21 °C) for multiple blooming periods all year round.
- Humidity: Potted amaryllis will do better in slightly drier conditions than waxed amaryllis. You can keep the indoor humidity between 30 and 40%.
- Fertilizer: About 6-8 weeks after planting, add fertilizer to help the bulb establish itself in its new home. Sprinkle a thin layer of 5-10-10 NPK fertilizer granules over the soil surface. Keep them safely away from the neck of the bulb and water them in.
Once you’ve replanted your waxed amaryllis bulb, sit back and enjoy watching it grow and transform into an even more beautiful flower.
Waxed amaryllis bulbs can add a beautiful splash of color to any room or garden. However, to ensure the blooms last as long as possible and look their best, giving your bulbs the right environment and care is essential.
Once the blooming is complete, consider replanting the bulbs so you can enjoy their beauty for years to come. Choose healthy bulbs, replant them correctly, and provide them with the right temperature, sunlight, and humidity.
You can plant them outside during the spring or in a pot where they can bloom multiple times throughout the year.