How to Grow Amaryllis

Amaryllis

Amaryllis is a gorgeous, bulbous flower which can be grown indoors or outdoors, with the majority of people that work with it preferring it more as an indoor flower, because that is where it appears to do the best.

Other factors in relationship to the flower being planted in the garden are in some zones they would have a very difficult time growing, with zones 7-9 being considered the best regions to plant the flower outdoors, although under the right conditions, some areas in zones 6 and 10 have been known to produce quality amaryllis outdoors.

It depends upon choosing a variety conducive to the zone, and where within the zone it is going to be planted.

What really sets the amaryllis apart in the minds of most people though is its ability to produce fantastically big and colorful blooms during the fall or winter months in the house, adding great color and a festive feeling during that time period.

Again, it's the particular variety chosen as to whether amaryllis will bloom more in the fall or the deeper winter months.

When to Buy Amaryllis

The best time to buy amaryllis is out of season. If you wait until they're displayed in rows at the local store or market, you're going to pay a hefty premium for the plant.

You can save a lot of money by acquiring your bulbs in the fall season before everyone wants some for the holidays. The price difference is usually less than half of what you would pay at the times of highest demand.

Buying Instructions for Amaryllis Bulbs

When going to purchase your amaryllis bulbs, the first thing to look for is how the bulb outwardly looks. Make sure it is clean and has no hint of disease on it. Any type of rot on the bulb is a warning not to buy it.

Also important is to get a bulb as bare as you can. If there is a lot of stem or leaf growth it's best not to buy them, as a bulb performs better when its initial energy is geared towards the roots and not the stalk of the flowers.

What Type of Pot?

There are two major reasons to grow amaryllis in a clay pot if you have them available. First, the susceptibility to rot is diminished because clay pots can breath better than other types.

Also, when the amaryllis is in full bloom it gets top heavy, and so plastic pots can be unwieldy and more prone to fall or tip over than the more stout and heavier clay pot.

Preparation for Planting Amaryllis in Pots

One tip that will help your amaryllis when you acquire them, is before you place them in your pots you can put them in a container with lukewarm water in it for several hours. After that go ahead and plant them in the pots.

You don't have to do this to be successful, but it gives the growth process a boost by softening up the dry roots of the plant.

Bulbs that you buy that are pre-potted can be watered with warm water instead of taking this step.

If you aren't able to plant your amaryllis bulbs immediately after you get them, then you should store in a cool place which has a temperature range of 40-50 degrees F.

Planting Amaryllis in Pots

For the amaryllis plants you buy in a bag, they will of course have to be potted.

First decide how it is you want to display the plants. Do you want them in individual pots? Or maybe you prefer to get a larger container and place several of them in there together.

Here you can also add warm water while stirring it slowly until the potting mix gets moist. Don't let it get to the point of being soggy.

Now fill up your container of choice to about half full. For individual plants a pot of six or seven inches should do. If you want to plant more in an individual container, a 12-inch pot should suffice.

You can now set your bulb or bulbs on top of the mix, filling in the area around the bulb. Leave approximately the top third of the bulb above the top of the pot edge.

The mix should be about a half an inch below the top of the pot to give room for watering the plant.

Now firmly press the mix once it's at the proper levels, and then give the bulb a light watering.

Amaryllis Care Before They Bloom

Since heat is important for stem development of amaryllis, they respond well to direct light in the home where the temperature remains above 60°F. The ideal temperature for the plant if from about 68 to 80 degrees F, for night and day. This will help the bulb to sprout and grow much quicker.

As a bulb is susceptible to rot right after potting, don't water too much until the stem appears. After that gradually add water. A good rule of thumb is to water when the potting mix is dry to about an inch down.

If you have bought a pre-potted plant, it usually comes with Spanish moss. Some recommend you lift the moss and water directly into the potting mix.

Not too long after that you should see rapid growth and flowers emerging, although the variety of amaryllis you buy will determine how quickly you'll see blooms. Generally it takes bulbs from 7-10 weeks to flower.

Amaryllis Care During Bloom

Once your amaryllis blooms in a pot, you can move it away from the more direct sun, as it will allow the flower to remain on the stem longer in a slightly cooler place.

Also remember to rotate the plant so it doesn't start to lean too much in one direction when it gets more top heavy. This of course should be done before bloom as well.

When the weather is warmer you can of course place them outside to enjoy them if you wish.

Amaryllis Planting Strategy

The usual planting season for amaryllis in the home is from October and April. To enjoy color throughout the entire season, plant them at intervals of two weeks.

Be aware that flowering time in winter will be longer than it is in spring, so plan accordingly.

Fertilizing Amaryllis

Normally it's best to start fertilizing amaryllis shortly after they begin to sprout.

All that's really needed for indoor plants is to use a regular houseplant fertilizer. You can use either a time release or apply an NPK liquid fertilizer twice a month.

Amaryllis Care After Bloom

When talking about after care for an amaryllis, be aware that there is the after care of the flower when it stops blooming, and the care it receives when the colder weather comes in. Each one is done differently, so be sure you don't get them confused. We'll talk about both of them here.

First we'll look at what to do to an amaryllis once the it has stopped flowering, especially if you want flowers on it next year. I say that because some people don't bother with this and just buy new bulbs every year. In other words there is only one reason to go through this process, and that is to produce flowers from your plant next year.

Once the bulb stops flowering, it's similar to running a marathon - it's extremely tired. In order for it to produce flowers the following year, it must regain its strength.

So when the blooms are fading on the amaryllis, cut the flower stalk off down to about 3 to 5 inches above the bulb. Don't cut the leaves off at this time, as they produce food for the bulb.

This is the major difference between after bloom care and preparation for the plant as it goes to dormancy. Preparation for dormancy, as we'll talk about below, includes the removal of all foliage that has died back. Here it is still alive and well.

After you snip the flower stalk place the plant in a sunny window. Only water when the top inch of the mix is dry. You can also fertilize at this time.

Amaryllis Care In the Fall

When cooler weather is ready to return in the fall season, it's time to take you potted plants back in the house.

To prepare for this, start to get rid of the dead foliage by pruning them with a shears. Don't cut the foliage until it has completely died back. Also start to cut back on watering the plant to help it on its journey to dormancy.

If warmer than usual weather helps the foliage last longer than normal, you can also start to reduce watering to help it die back. Amaryllis should start wilting by September.

When you've cut back the wilted foliage, bring the pot inside and place it in a dark area with a temperature of about 45°F to 55°F. Stop feeding or watering the plant for six to eight weeks.

At the end of this period, remove any foliage that you weren't able to cut off earlier because it didn't die completely.

You can now keep the bulb in the pot to allow it to regrow, or take it out and place it in a new pot.

Propagating Amaryllis

When you come back to your dormant amaryllis, you could find that some little bulbs have started to grow off of your main bulb.

All you have to do is remove those small bulbs and pot them up to grow like you grow the mother plant. Either that, or you can leave them on the mother plant and allow them to mature before you remove and replant them.

Either way, water the small bulbs and place them in a bright, warm location. When they start to show growth, just repeat the process we've talked about here.

One thing to keep in mind concerning the potting of small bulbs is it could take an additional year before they bloom. Don't think there's anything wrong with them, as they will eventually bloom, and once they do, you can continue working with them as you do with any amaryllis.

Pleasure of Amaryllis

There you have a good overall look at what it takes to successfully prepare, grow, propagate and store amaryllis for the best results.

Even though there are a few things that must be remembered, each stage is very simple, and if focused on when those seasons arrive, it's one of the easiest and most fun flowers to grow, producing magnificent flowers and color for your garden all year round.

You also get the additional benefit of moving them from the house to the outdoors and back again. It doesn't get much better than that!

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WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 20 months ago from Templeton, CA

Since I grow my plants outside, I'm still not sure when I should dig them up to move them and when to replant them outside in another location. I live in a mild winter area of California.

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