A magnificent specimen is the amaryllis with its flowers at Christmas time. With the high-stemmed plant, however, there is a risk that the leaves will buckle. Care errors on bent leaves are mainly responsible. The plant expert gives ideas on what to do in this case and how to prevent twisting in the future.
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need for action
If an amaryllis leaf snaps, this is often a serious problem, especially between the growing season in summer and well into the flowering period. In addition to the visual aspect, this is based on the fact that the supply routes are disrupted by the kinking. Nutrients and moisture no longer reach the leaf tips to the required extent.
In particular, during the formation of buds, which already begins in the summer months, it is usually not possible to create flowers due to insufficient supply. Because the amaryllis is not one of the lush flowering plants and often only has one or two flowers, hobby gardeners and flower lovers have to do without them. In addition, the affected leaf dies over time. Here it is important to act quickly as soon as you discover a folded sheet, so that there are no further consequences.
most common cause
If the leaves bend, it is usually because they have grown too long. Especially when there is rapid growth, the Hippeastrum vittatum cannot keep up with the formation of a sufficiently stable fiber structure so quickly. This means: the longer and consequently heavier an amaryllis leaf becomes, the higher the chance that it will buckle. This usually happens in the lower third. The upper part is structured flexibly and bears less weight on it, so that there is no risk of “independent” ankle twisting. The fact that an amaryllis forms leaves that are too fast and/or too long is often due to a mistake in care and/or the choice of location.
If the amaryllis leaves grow unnaturally fast and/or long in the second half of the year, this may be due to the location if the plant does not receive enough light there. It cannot continue the formation of buds or flowers without sufficient light. As a result, it sends its nutrients, which it actually uses more for buds and flowers, into the leaves. In addition, the unnatural growth is linked to the plant trying to catch more light through its foliage. Therefore grow correspondingly fast and/or long. To stop the progress and avoid this situation in the future, do the following:
- During the growth phase between spring and summer: sunny and warm with temperatures between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius
- Ideal east or west window during the growth phase
- During the rest period between September and the beginning of December: semi-shady and cool with temperatures between five and nine degrees Celsius
- During flowering: move to a bright, not full sun location at temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius
Particularly long leaves and rapid growth can be caused by well-intentioned or incorrect fertilization. Many flower lovers think that a nitrogen fertilizer during the growth phase promotes flowering. This is wrong, because nitrogen only affects the growth of green parts of plants. The foliage shoots up accordingly in height/length and tends to buckle at a certain point.
If the leaves bend because they are unnaturally long, this can also be due to too high a dosage or too frequent fertilization rhythm. If the amaryllis receives too many nutrients from the outside, the plant absorbs them in its transport. There is an oversupply, which often results in rapid growth with an increase in the length of the foliage. If this cause is considered, the following action should be taken:
- plant out plant
- Remove soil from roots
- Fill the planter with fresh substrate
- replant the plant
- Pour lightly
- Fertilize after six weeks at the earliest (outside the resting phase)
How to properly fertilize:
- Fertilize every two weeks from April/May up to and including July (outdoors on a weekly basis)
- Stop fertilizing from August
- Fertilizer break until after the flowers have wilted
- Then fertilize every three to four weeks up to and including March/April
- Use liquid fertilizer mixed in irrigation water (distributes better and does not take time to dissolve)
- Pay attention to low-nitrogen fertilizer from April to July
- Always follow the product manufacturer’s dosage recommendations
One of the most typical care mistakes is incorrect watering and, in the case of the Hippeastrum vittatum, often too much water. This causes the leaves of the amaryllis to grow and eventually snap. What many people don’t know is that the plant is dormant between October and early December before it enters the flowering phase. Under no circumstances should water be poured here, because the risk of onion rot is highest because the metabolic process is reduced to a minimum. The water is not utilized and floods the onion. Rotting causes all parts of the plant to lose their stability. The leaves begin to droop and inevitably buckle at a certain point. It is important to ensure that the plant is “drained” as quickly as possible:
- Plant out larkspur
- Remove soil completely from bulb/roots
- Allow onion to drain/dry for a few hours in a resting place (air only – do not use heat sources)
- Plant back into new, dry substrate
Subsequent watering rhythm:
- Watering pause during the entire resting phase (also do not water after transplanting during the resting period)
- Give a small amount of water after the rest phase
- Slightly increase the amount of water from the first visible bud
- When the flowers are about ten centimeters large, keep the soil/substrate constantly moist (do not overwet)
Even without the leaves becoming unnaturally long, they have a leaf length of up to 30 centimeters, depending on the variety. Especially during the formation of buds, the Hippeastrum vittatum increasingly focuses on the supply of these. As a result, this can lead to the leaf structure suffering and a leaf buckling as a result. You can also use these tools to avoid breaking the sheets.
So that no more leaves follow, you should choose a higher planter in which the outer foliage can be supported by the edge of the container. This significantly minimizes the risk of kinking.
If the amaryllis is only on one side in the required light and the other in the darker area, the leaves pull over in the direction of the light channel, making the foliage on the light side more difficult, which then often buckle under the “load”. You can quickly help here by turning the pot regularly at least once a week. This ensures straight growth.
Lush, sometimes heavy buds and/or unstable flower stalks can occasionally be another reason for amaryllis leaves to snap. If the flower stalk leans more to the side, it often presses on the surrounding leaves, mostly in the lower area. The pressure can cause them to snap off. Stabilizing the stem with floral wire or a wooden stick that is loosely tied with floral wire over the entire length of the stem up to the blossom helps here.
Especially with tall varieties, kinking is not uncommon, even despite perfect care and an ideal location. Sometimes a rain shower is enough for an outdoor amaryllis to put more weight on the leaves, which then buckle. Wind also poses a hazard when foliage is blown back and forth beyond its natural range of movement. A rain and wind-protected location can of course prevent this, but in principle it is not a bad idea to support/stabilize an amaryllis from below. Here it is already sufficient if a wire is attached as described below:
- Choose wire length twice as long as pot diameter
- Lay three-fourths of the wire in a circle under the leaves about two inches above the ground
- Close/twist the end of the wire from the circular shape so that you can still stick a third of it down into the ground
- For very large/long leaves, attach the second wire to the round wire and stick the other end in the ground
- Alternative: Place the ribbon under the bottom leaves and attach it to a wooden stick on the edge of the pot