Do amaryllis stems photosynthesize?
After the flowers are done I remove them, but I leave the leaves on until it is time to force dormancy in September. I understand the critical role the leaves play in building up the bulbs energy for the following year. Some people suggest leaving the stem on the bulb until it begins to wilt as it too participates in photosynthesis. These sources are unreliable so that is my question. Do amaryllis stems help with photosynthesis or can I cut them off once the last flower is done?
Thank you for your time,
Thank you for writing — the early months of every new year bring many interesting questions about the amazing amaryllis bulb.
To answer your first question: yes, photosynthesis occurs in chloroplasts in plants, which are found both in the green leaves, and green stems, of plants.
The chemical chlorophyll enables plants to convert energy from the sun into chemical compounds, for growth. This process is called photosynthesis, as you said. Chlorophyll absorbs blue and red light, and reflects green light. Because of this, plant stems and leaves appear green in color. So, to answer your second question: yes is it useful to the plant to leave your green amaryllis stems on as well.
However, the stems will often yellow-off, and droop, far sooner than the leaves, at which point you may cleanly cut off just above the bulb base.
For more in-depth reading, you might enjoy the attached Amaryllis page from the University of Wisconsin.