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How to Grow Amaryllis Bulbs

Updated on July 11, 2015
Amaryllis blooming in winter
Amaryllis blooming in winter | Source

Tips for Successfully Growing Your Amaryllis Flowers From Bulbs

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) is a popular bulb flower for growing indoors during the cold months of the year, producing large, showy blooms with rich and vibrant colors. It's also the easiest of the flowering bulbs to force into bloom.

Each winter my husband grows a couple Amaryllis plants from bulbs, resulting in a colorful indoor flower display that easily offsets the outside winter whites, grays, and browns. He knows how to care for the plants and bulbs during and after growth so that they will grow again the following year.

Because of the ease in growing Amaryllis bulbs indoors, combined with its spectacular blooms, the Amaryllis makes a great gift during the holiday season and the colder months of the year. These plants with their beautiful blooms will brighten most anyone's day!

Amaryllis plant
Amaryllis plant | Source

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

The "Amaryllis" plant that we're familiar with for growing and displaying around the Holidays belongs to the genus Hippeastrum, and not the Amaryllis genus, even though both are in the Amaryllidaceae family. The true Amaryllis has similar-shaped flowers, but can't be "forced" to bloom in the winter like Hippeastrum.

For the sake of simplicity, throughout the rest of this page I'll be using the common name Amaryllis to refer to these Hippeastrums.

The Hippeastrum Amaryllis is native to the tropics and subtropics in South America and Central America, and many of its hybrids are grown in garden beds and borders in warmer climates. They won't survive year-round in colder climates, but do well as indoor houseplants, especially for the purpose of forcing the bulbs into bloom.

Typically, on a fully grown Amaryllis there'll be 2 to 7 large lily-shaped blossoms about 6" across, on thick stems up to 20" tall. The leaves are dark green, and up to 20" long, growing from the bulb in a rosette. Even when the flowers are done blooming, the leaves are visually pleasing in their own right. Blooms come in a number of vibrant colors: red is very popular around Christmas, but there are also pink, white, salmon, orange, and bi-color blooms. Different hybrids will also have different shapes, sizes, and patterns.

Newly potted amaryllis bulb
Newly potted amaryllis bulb | Source

Choosing and Planting Your Amaryllis Bulb

You can buy Amaryllis bulbs from most garden centers, usually from around September to January. They can be bought individually, and planted in your choice of container, or they can be bought as kits, with the bulb already planted in a small pot.

If you buy individual bulbs from your local garden center, pick bulbs that are firm to the touch, and avoid choosing bulbs that have already started to sprout.

Larger bulbs tend to grow more stalks and flowers than smaller bulbs, but you do pay more for the larger ones. The bulb pictured here is a larger one, about 36cm in circumference, bought from our local home and garden store. It will most likely grow two bloom stalks.

Plant your bulb, pointed end up, in a deep container with 1" - 1 1/2" space around the bulb. Make sure your container has good drainage, and that your potting medium is sterile and well-drained. Poor drainage will cause the bulb to rot.

Don't bury the bulb, but rather leave about 1/3 of the bulb above the soil level. Then water well around the bulb, but not on it (again, that can cause the bulb to rot). Watering with room temperature water is better than cold water -- probably it promotes growth a bit more quickly. Place in a well-lit area that's at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It will grow more quickly at 70 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but many of us do keep our houses cooler than that during the winter!

Don't water again until the flower stem starts to come up. My husband has experienced that watering before growth starts makes it more likely that leaves will come up first, and the flower stem will come up much later, or not at all. It's still a pretty plant with just the leaves, but you're growing this for the stem and flowers!

Video Tips For Planting the Amaryllis Bulb

Note that the bulb isn't completely buried in soil. You don't want to get soil or water on the neck of the bulb.

Great Reference for Caring for Your Amaryllis - and other holiday plants

Amaryllis, Paperwhites and Poinsettias: Growing, Propagating and Reblooming Your Holiday Plants

Here's a good Kindle book to keep on hand for whenever you have questions about how to care for your amaryllis and other plants that are often grown during the holidays.

Growing Amaryllis
Growing Amaryllis | Source

Caring For Your Amaryllis As It Grows

Once the flower stem starts to grow, keep the soil medium moist -- not too soggy. Water every 6 - 9 days, or when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Again, make sure not to water the "nose" of the bulb.

Feed your Amaryllis plant every two weeks with a good liquid plant food, or once with a slow-release granular plant food.

The stem will grow toward the light, so turn the pot every day to ensure even growth of the stem. As you see from this photo, you may need to stake up a heavier plant.

Once your plant starts to flower, place in a cooler area and out of direct sunlight to keep the flowers blooming for longer.

As each flower fades, carefully trim it off, and when the stem starts to wither, carefully cut that as well.

Continue to water and feed your amaryllis while the leaves are still growing. If you'd like to save the bulb to re-grow it, place the leaves back in a sunny area to store more energy for future grow. Trim the leaves off when they turn yellow, and let the bulb dry out to go dormant.

Amaryllis Growing, Flowering and Decaying, Time-Lapse

Re-grow your amaryllis
Re-grow your amaryllis | Source

Re-growing Your Amaryllis Bulb

You may prefer to just discard your amaryllis bulb after it's done growing. But you can also re-grow it if you follow a few simple instructions.

If you plan to save your bulb for regrowing, once the flowers have died back but the leaves are still growing, place the plant back in a sunny spot so the leaves can store more energy for later re-growth.

After the leaves have died back, and you've trimmed them off, remove the amaryllis from its pot and let it dry out and go dormant for at least 6 - 8 weeks. Store it in a cool, dry place, ideally 50 - 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anytime after that, you can re-pot it and start again with the growing process. Start about 8 weeks before you want it to bloom.

If you have a few bulbs, you can stagger their growth, and enjoy beautiful Amaryllis blooms throughout the winter!

Amaryllis bulbs to buy
Amaryllis bulbs to buy

Amaryllis Kits and Bulbs

Amaryllis kits are almost fool-proof to grow. Water them to start their growth, and follow any other instructions that come with the kit to ensure beautiful blooms! Amaryllis bulbs are also easy to grow if you follow the guidelines earlier on this page.

Amaryllis kits and bulbs are usually not sold during the summer. You can find them at local garden stores and also online.

Check on Amazon for amaryllis bulbs if you're having trouble finding them locally.


Amaryllis Resources

Here are a few good resources for learning more about blooming amaryllis bulbs.

I'd Love to Hear From You!

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    • KarenHC profile image
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      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      @KarenHC: Oops, I didn't see this in context with the earlier comment / question! I'm not really sure what's going on if the plant doesn't go dormant, but my sense is that if it's so active even when you're trying to get it to go dormant, then cutting off the leaves even if they're green won't hurt the bulb too much. I'm not 100% sure of this though. Usually our amaryllis leaves do start to turn yellow, or at least a little less green, by the time we cut them off.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: Hi Kit, We trim the leaves off once they've started to turn yellow, since by then they've done all the work they need to do (they're no longer storing energy to be transferred back to the bulb). We trim them with scissors less then an inch from the bulb. I think the same would apply for spring bulbs too. Or at least we trim our daffodils when the leaves start to get a little yellow, although that takes awhile!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @KarenHC: So close! Like my Gran's recipés; missing a detail. "Accidentally", of course. "Remove the leaves..." ?? Ackk. How? How much? Furthermore, isn't it precisely the energy/resource developed by/in the leaves, what needs to be transferred back into the bulb? Same process as for outdoor & spring bulbs? Yet, mine too; refuse to "die back".

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: Hi Marie! One tip is that if the plant doesn't go dormant, then remove the leaves and re-pot it. Otherwise this is what my husband does: he stops feeding the amaryllis in August, and then stops watering it in September and puts it in the basement in a dry, dark, cool spot. After a couple months he brings it up again, waters once (not over-watering), and waits until the flower shoot starts. If the bulb is over-watered, it will grow leaves instead. Sometimes the flower stalk will grow later too, after he stops watering for awhile.

      Here's another great overview of how to grow amaryllis bulbs that includes tips for: 1. starting with a new amaryllis bulb, or 2. forcing an existing plant to bloom for the holidays, or 3. letting the plant bloom naturally. http://gardening.about.com/od/floweringbulbs/a/Ama...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I cannot seem to get my Amarylis to go dormant. I stop watering it entirely and leave it in a sunny window but the leaves never stop coming on. So, then I put them in a black pot with a cover on it so they get no light and keep them in a cool shop. When I check on them a month or so later they are still growing new green leaves. After 8 weeks I bring them back into the house and start watering them. They then produce lots of healthy green leaves and nothing else. What do I need to do?

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 4 years ago

      Your tips about growing amaryllis bulbs are really great! Thanks!

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: Thanks, Tipi, for stopping by again :-) Always appreciated. Also your comment reminds me I need to bring up our amaryllis bulbs for the season! My husband keeps them from year to year and does a great job in getting them to bloom again.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just stopped by again. Am hoping my Amaryllis will be blooming for Christmas. Thanks once again for the tips my dear. :)

    • malena10 profile image

      malena10 5 years ago

      I love amaryllis, I have red and white one :)

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      I've always wanted to do this. Such lovely flowers!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @KarenHC: Thanks for the info, Kajohu.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: Hi Jen,

      The artist is Jim "Kimo" West, and the music is "Aloha Uncle Lawrence". If you click on the little YouTube logo on the bottom right of the video, it will take you to the same video on YouTube, which also gives the music information. It really is lovely music, isn't it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just LOVE the music that accompanies the time-lapse film of the amaryllis. Does anyone know the title and who is playing it?

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: It's great that you're growing an amaryllis for the first time! To keep the flower lasting longer, you could place it in a cooler area perhaps. I don't know of an easier way to get it growing again, but if you follow these instructions it will grow again. Or you might decide to discard it when it's done growing this year, and get a new one for next year. That's probably the easiest way :-) Good luck!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i have a amaryllis, it is great, but the flower dies to soon, but another is blooming now,this is my first time taking care of one and i am scared that i can't get it growing again is there an easier way to take care of it.

    • profile image

      FarmerTom 6 years ago

      Thanks for the excellent advice! Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      These are beautiful! I would love to try them. Favorited for future reference and guidance!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 6 years ago

      I start several amaryllis in the house before Christmas. Once they've bloomed and spring has arrived, I plant them in my garden. They bloom for me every spring. I love them.

      Lensrolled to Christmas Plants and Flowers.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Excellent information. We got an Amaryllis kit for Christmas, and it's in flower right now. It would be nice to keep this for next year.

    • profile image

      Craftybegonia 6 years ago

      Beautiful!

    • wilhb81 lm profile image

      wilhb81 lm 7 years ago

      Hmm, it looks like that I've used the wrong method to grow my amaryllis bulbs in the past. No wonder, I was always failed to grow it up lol Thank you very much for sharing all these amazing tips with us. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Really fun lens! I grew an amaryllis for years, such a beautiful flower. Great idea!

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      these are great fun to watch growing and make wonderful gifts - great lens

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      I have grown amaryllis before and really enjoyed them. Actually I like all kinds of bulbs. It's hard to pass them up in the garden departments. Great lens on their care.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 7 years ago

      What a lovely flower! Beautiful lens.