Whether you choose to grow amaryllis for the holidays or want to branch out and brighten your home with unique blooms for Valentine’s Day, you’ll adore these easy-to-grow bulbs. Plus, with a few simple steps, your amaryllis bulbs will entertain you with stunning blooms for years.
What’s in a Name? Amaryllis vs. Hippeastrum
Instead, the traditional holiday favorite is actually classified as Hippeastrum, from the genus Amaryllidaceae. Native to Central and South America, Hippeastrum includes 90 species and more than 600 cultivars, ranging from ruby-red single blooms most often associated with holiday hostess gifts to double flowers in shades of coral, pink, white, and even bi-colored, to outrageous, skinny green petals from unique hybrids. With such diverse blooms, how can you not want to collect them all?!
For simplicity—and because you’ll most likely see the bulbs marketed as amaryllis rather than Hippeastrum–we’ll use the term amaryllis to refer to the bulbs.
How to Choose an Amaryllis Bulb
Also, look for healthy bulbs. Choose firm, mold-free bulbs without blemishes. Make sure your bulb feels firm, like an apple, without any soft spots. Choosing healthy bulbs leads to healthy plants.
Pick Your Amaryllis Bloom Time
Whichever bulbs you choose, bloom time also depends on when you plant them. You may want to plant a few amaryllis bulbs early for holiday blooms, saving a few to grow later for mid-winter flowers. An amaryllis bulb may produce multiple stalks with a series of blooms that can last a month. Sometimes, more is more—more amaryllis blooms equals more happiness. After all, can you really have too many flowers during chilly winter days?
Which Amaryllis Is Your Favorite?
With so many gorgeous options, why pick just one amaryllis variety? Select several, and you’ll enjoy winter-long blooms to get you through the sad season until spring. Some popular options to consider include:
Seven Simple Steps to Grow Amaryllis
- Choose a container about an inch wider and deeper than the amaryllis bulb. Make sure the container has a drainage hole.
- Fill the pot about half full using a high-quality potting mix that contains bark to promote drainage. Amaryllis bulbs can rot if they sit in soggy soil.
- Place the bulb in the pot on top of the soil, adding more soil around the sides of the bulb. Leave the top third of the bulb exposed above the soil line.
- Water the bulb after planting. Don’t water it again until you see signs of growth, and then water sparingly.
- Place the amaryllis where it will receive lots of light—6 hours is ideal. Without adequate light, the flower stalks will stretch to reach light, making them leggy and weak. Use grow lights if natural light isn’t available.
- Once flower stalks form buds, begin watering as needed. Check the top two inches of soil. If dry, it’s time to water.
- When the flower finishes blooming, cut off the spent flowers, but keep the green stem and additional buds. Do not remove the leaves.
The large, trumpet-shaped flowers of amaryllis can make the plant top-heavy, especially if the plant becomes leggy when stretching for light.
Stake your amaryllis to prevent it from toppling over or breaking. A heavier pot can also weigh down the base to prevent toppling.
How to Care for Amaryllis after Blooming
- Once the bulb finishes flowering, remove the flower stem. Cut it about an inch above the bulb.
- Treat the amaryllis like your houseplants. Place the pot where the foliage continues to receive bright light. Water when needed, making sure the soil is barely moist—never soggy.
- Fertilize the plant once or twice per month, using a diluted liquid fertilizer. The strappy amaryllis leaves absorb light, converting starches and sugars to feed the bulb. Producing and storing energy allows the bulb to rebloom the following year.
- In spring, when all danger of frost has passed, place the amaryllis pot outside to continue growing. In warm zones where temperatures never drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (USDA hardiness zones 9-11), try planting amaryllis bulbs in the garden to grow as perennials.
How to Make Amaryllis Bulbs Bloom Again
First, they need a nap.
- Late summer/early fall: Stop watering and fertilizing. Move the potted bulbs to a cool, dry location away from bright light. A basement or garage, where temperatures stay about 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, is ideal. As the plant goes dormant, the leaves will wither and die. Remove the dead leaves, snipping them off from the bulb. Let the bulb rest for about 8 to 10 weeks.
- Late October (for holiday blooms): Move bulbs out of storage. Check bulbs to ensure they’re healthy. Remove from pot and look for mold or soft spots. Empty old potting soil into the compost pile, rinse pot, and add fresh potting mix. Replant the bulb. Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot indoors. Water thoroughly, then follow directions above—wait to water again until you see active growth. The bulb should bloom in 8 to 10 weeks. For Valentine’s Day blooms—bring the bulbs out of storage in early December, then follow the process above.
If your amaryllis grows leggy, consider using it as a cut flower.
Amaryllis blooms look lovely on their own in a vase or as part of a bouquet. They last just as long as a cut flower as they do when attached to the bulb. Plus, cutting amaryllis stems before they bloom helps the bulb conserve energy for future flowers.
Are Wax-Coated Amaryllis “One and Done”?
- Once the amaryllis bulb finishes blooming, remove the flowers and stem, but keep the leaves intact.
- Remove the wax coating from the bulb. Try to peel it off by hand to minimize damage to the bulb, or carefully use a sharp knife to loosen and break the wax.
- Plant the bulb in soil, as directed above. Place in bright light. Water and fertilize to encourage roots to form. Continue to grow like a houseplant, or place outside when danger of frost has passed.
- Follow the steps to encourage the bulb to rebloom.
Can Amaryllis Grow in Water?
- Select a clean, clear vase. A tall vase can help support the top-heavy flowers.
- Fill the vase with three to four inches of stones or pebbles.
- Place the amaryllis bulb on top of the stones, then add more stones around the bulb for stability.
- Add water to the vase to just below the bulb. Make sure the bulb is not sitting in the water, or it may rot. The roots will grow down to reach the water.
- Place the vase in bright light.
- Monitor the water level, and add more water as needed.
- Once the bulb finishes flowering, remove the flower stem. Plant the bulb in a container with potting soil and follow the directions above to encourage blooms the following year.
How to Accessorize Your Amaryllis
Are you ready to celebrate the Year of the Amaryllis this winter? Choose your favorite cultivars, make sure to pick up a few extra bulbs for gifts, and enjoy the fabulous, brilliant show.
Did you know that National Garden Bureau members include the most innovative breeders and distributors of amaryllis cultivars?
Whether you’re looking for a hostess gift or a gift for yourself, you’ll find a stunning selection of amaryllis cultivars from National Garden Bureau members.
Founded more than 100 years ago, the National Garden Bureau educates, inspires, and motivates people to grow home gardens. National Garden Bureau members are horticultural experts, and the information shared with you comes directly from these experts to ensure your gardening success.
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