Although amaryllis is the term most people still use, the correct name for this common houseplant is hippeastrum. The true amaryllis, such as Amaryllis belladonna – the belladonna lily which also has a large bulb, has smaller flowers which come up after the leaves have died down. Hippeastrum species are native to South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The bulbs most usually available to buy are Hippeastrum hybrids which have been selected for the best qualities as houseplants.
For the purposes of this article I shall stick with using the name amaryllis.
Most of us get an amaryllis in flower as a Christmas present or as a bulb at Christmas which then flowers a couple of months later. It can be tempting to throw them away then – especially if you’ve had a go at raising them a second year before and only been rewarded by leaves. Don’t bin them – you can succeed with amaryllis and have them flower for many years in succession.
For a really stunning and dramatic display, you could group 3 or 5 amaryllis bulbs into one pot.
Compost - amaryllis bulbs don’t like to wallow in a lot of compost. Plant them in a pot which is no more than two inches wider than the bulb and two inches deeper than it. You can use compost, called bulb fibre, which is produced specially for bulbs, but I have used ordinary compost as an alternative and that works too. Plant the bulb so that the top is just above the soil. Moisten the soil with water, but don’t soak it.
Temperature - although the RHS - new encylcopaedia of plants and flowers recomends a minimum temperature of 55 fahrenheit (13 celcius) I have found mine do ok down to 50 fahrenheit (10 celcius).
Position your amaryllis on or near a north facing windowsill. 10-20 centigrade (50-68 Fahrenheit) is ideal. Often the flower bud appears before the leaves, when you see the bud you can start being a little more generous with the water. When the leaves start to appear you should add a liquid feed to the water, such as miracle grow, once a week. This is an essential step if you want your amaryllis to flower again the next year. The bulb takes up the nutrients from the food and the leaves photosynthesise and any energy not needed for growing this year’s flower is stored in the bulb to make next year’s flower.
When the flower stem is full height move the amaryllis to its flowering position. It can have pride of place somewhere you will enjoy it most. For the relatively short time that the flower is out it doesn’t matter if the amaryllis is kept well away from the light if you want to use it to brighten up a dull corner of a room. The flowers will last longer in a cooler room and if they are kept away from any radiators.
When the flower wilts you can cut it off at the base of the stem. Move the amaryllis back to the north facing windowsill. Continue adding a liquid feed to the water once a week until the leaves start to turn yellow. Then stop watering altogether for two months whilst the plant has a rest. You can move it away from the windowsill again if you want it out of the way, but I leave mine there.
After two months start to water it sparingly again and all being well you will soon have another flower from your amaryllis bulb. Don’t despair if it doesn’t flower second time round, it just means the bulb didn’t store enough energy, feed it regularly once the leaves show and it will reward you with flowers the year after.
Don’t expect your amaryllis to flower at Christmas again – growers specially prepare the bulbs to do that. Normal flowering time is March to early June.
Amaryllis Flowers Brighten Up a Dull Corner
It’s a slow process, but your amaryllis may produce one or more bulblets. You can separate these from the parent plant and grow them on individually or leave them together and pot the two of them up into a slightly larger pot as I have and enjoy two or more amaryllis flower stems at once. It will take 2 or 3 years for the bulblet to be big enough to flower.
What is the Difference between Hippeastrum (often known as amaryllis) and True Amaryllis
Flowers appear after or at the same time as the leaves
Leaves appear first then die down before the flower appears
Between December and June
Where to grow it
Only suitable as a houseplant in the UKHouseplant
Can be grown outdoors in a sunny spot in the UK
Flower colours available
pink, white, red, orange, yellow. Some varieties have bi coloured flowers,
pink or white
Species originate from
South America, Mexico, Caribbean
- Amaryllis Bulb Company
Free catalog, planting information, and pictures and prices of our Amaryllis selection.
- Flower Bulbs - Autumn Planting | Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) Mail order garden centre for flower bulbs,
Flower Bulbs - Autumn Planting, Amaryllis (Hippeastrum), Garden Supplies, gardening tools, equipment and products. Suppliers of flower bulbs in the green, lavender plants, pest control, gardman wildlife and wild bird care
- Pacific Bulb Society | Hippeastrum Species One