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Ask the Master – Replanting Bulbs

Can a bulb, purchased in a pot, and already blooming, be replanted outdoors successfully?

Absolutely!  Unless the bulb was neglected during the bloom time or left to die in the pot, it is alive and simply needs to be kept fed, watered and growing like the little piggy that it is.

All flowering bulbs are already developing the next year’s bloom while showing the current year’s blooms.  They need a dormant time to trigger the coming bloom, and also plenty of food reserves with which to feed the developing bloom.  

Those reserves are stored after the first year’s blossoming time is done and before the foliage dies off.  The growing also extends to the summer after the bloom is done but the bulb and roots must be actively growing and still collecting food.  During that time, they need plenty of nutrition and an appropriate amount of water and good drainage. By fall they will have grown large enough to survive the winter and will then push up a spring bloom.  The re-blooming process will continue as long as the bulb can get enough nutrition to put on enough weight during the summer.

Amaryllis and other indoor ornamental bulbs are the same.  The problem with most re-blooming failures is that they are forced to bloom at an unnatural time, such as Christmas.  Timing in that case is difficult and many times the bulb never recovers enough strength to re-bloom although it isn’t impossible.  Again, careful watering, feeding and dormancy can bring it back to bloom in the next season.

The Master Gardener Speaker’s Bureau is available for group presentations.  Contact the office for specifics. 2020 Master Gardener Classes will begin in October 2019. Call for details.

Certified Master Gardeners are local volunteers trained by Penn State to answer Horticulture questions with properly researched information. For a “best practices” answer to your question, call Penn State Jefferson County Extension at 849-7361, Ext 508, e-mail JeffersonMG@psu.edu, or mail your question to 186 Main Street, Suite 3, Brookville, PA 15825.  

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

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