Amaryllis Care 101: How to Make Bulbs Flourish

Amaryllis Care 101: How to Make Bulbs Flourish

One of the easiest and most impressive flowers, amaryllis bulbs bloom in almost every color of the rainbow, from velvety red to bright green. The massive, trumpet-shaped flowers may be up to 8 inches across. Bearing multiple buds on a single stem, amaryllis (Hippestrum) are popular holiday gifts. Gardeners have created dozens of amaryllis specimens, all of which are easy to care for. The 2- to 3-foot stems support flowers that may be striped, two-colored, or solid. Here's what you need to know about how to plant and care for amaryllis bulbs.

Did you know that you can also grow amaryllis seeds?

How to care for amaryllis bulbs

Tatiana Foxy/Getty Images

  1. Plant one bulb in one pot or several bulbs in a larger pot.
  2. For one amaryllis, choose a pot that is at least 7 to 8 inches deep and 1 inch larger in diameter than the bulb.
  3. Make sure the pot you choose has proper drainage holes to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.
  4. Place a few inches of potting mix in the pot, secure the bulb on top, then fill the sides with additional mix.
  5. When you're done, the top third of the bulb should be free of dirt.
  6. Place the container in a cool, sunny location and keep the potting mixture barely moist.
  7. Amaryllis does best in rooms with temperatures around 65 degrees.
  8. Bulbs are easy to start indoors, but take seven to 10 weeks to bloom.

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Caring for amaryllis after flowering

Beautiful red amaryllisLyudmila Chernytska/Getty Images

Depending on the variety, it takes about a month for the bulb to appear. Once the stem has germinated, move the pot occasionally to level out the sun exposure to ensure upright growth. Later, once the flowers have bloomed, move the container out of direct sunlight and keep it cool. When the first round of flowers fades, cut them off, and once the stem is bare, cut them back to just above the bulb. Some amaryllis species may produce a second or even third set of gorgeous flowers.

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How to Get Amaryllis Bulbs to Bloom

Amaryllis care, Amaryllis bulbsCourtesy John Doyle

Do not throw away amaryllis plants after one season. With care and attention, you can keep your amaryllis bulbs blooming year after year. To encourage amaryllis plants to return to bloom during the holidays, move them to a cool location (about 55 degrees) in the fall to begin their dormant period.

Giving the bulbs a rest period of eight to 12 weeks allows you to control flowering time. The plants will come out of dormancy, usually blooming, within four to six weeks after you pot them and start watering them.

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Amaryllis care: watering and fertilizing

252093744 1 virginia williams bnb bypc2020Courtesy Virginia Williams
Amaryllis growing in an outdoor container

“I would like to grow amaryllis year-round without the fall rest time. What are the light, water and fertilizer requirements? Asks Karel Baetger of Unionville, Pennsylvania

Garden expert Melinda Myers: If you ask this question to several gardeners, you will likely receive several different recommendations for reblooming amaryllis. Most of them involve a period of rest. Here's what I suggest. Remove the flower stem once the flowers have faded and add fertilizer for flowering plants.

Move the plants outside in the summer for best results (a sunny window works too). During the warmer months, amaryllis plants generate energy for new growth and flowers.

In winter, move it to a slightly cooler, brightly lit location. At this stage, your plant will likely only have a few leaves, so water it sparingly. If you're lucky, new flower stalks appear in January or February. The key is to find the method that works best for you, your growing conditions, and your plant.

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Amaryllis care: Plant bulbs outside

AmaryllisCourtesy Nancy Brown
If you live in zones 8 to 10, you can plant amaryllis bulbs directly in the ground in full sun.

While northern gardeners are accustomed to forcing this plant to flower in indoor pots, those gardening in zones 9 and 10 can add it to a perennial garden and leave it in the ground year-round. Gardeners in zone 8 may have success if they mulch the soil with 6 inches of straw in late fall or early winter after the leaves die. Grow in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil for best results.

“I keep amaryllis plants outside in the spring and summer, and one year they bloomed! Is this normal, and should I expect this in the future?” asks Peggy Haskin of Racine, Wisconsin.

Melinda Myers: Summer blooms are not the norm but often occur when plants are actively growing throughout the year. Winter and summer flowers appear on the same plant when it continues to grow and skips dormant treatment. Enjoy the summer blooms and consider planting a few amaryllis plants throughout the year for several seasons of bloom.

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Why won't amaryllis bloom?

Amaryllis plantJan Hakan Dahlström/Getty Images
Amaryllis leaves

“My amaryllis has five green leaves, and is about 14 inches tall, but it doesn't flower. What could be wrong with that?” asks Joyce LeMaster of Pharr, Texas.

Melinda Myers: You are lucky to be able to grow amaryllis indoors or outdoors in your area. Start by assessing growing conditions. Make sure to place your plant in a mostly sunny location with a little afternoon shade and moist, well-drained soil. Avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer which can prevent flowering.

Plant indoor amaryllis plants in a sunny window and water as needed. Consider moving them outside from spring to summer. In late summer, reduce watering and move the plant to a cool location indoors to induce dormancy. Within eight to 10 weeks you should notice new growth. Bring the germinating amaryllis plant to a warm, sunny window to encourage growth and flowering.

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Amaryllis care: treatment of red spots

Red spot diseaseCourtesy Sue Gronholz
A fungal disease with red spots on amaryllis

“The amaryllis bulbs I'm storing and replanting have red spots on the leaves and stems. What's wrong with them?” asks Sue Gronholz of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

Melinda Myers: The symptoms match the name and description of red spot, which is a fungal disease. It may develop at the base of flower stalks and emerging leaves. Affected leaves may become disfigured or stems may break easily. The disease is not fatal, but it can ruin the appearance of the plant. Reduce the risk of disease by purchasing healthy bulbs, using clean pots, and planting them in sterile potting mix. Prevent spread by cleaning tools and stakes used on affected plants with rubbing alcohol. If disease persists, use fungicides or replace bulbs.

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Where to buy amaryllis bulbs

AmaryllisVia the merchant

Amaryllis bulbs are thoughtful gifts for gardeners, new plant parents, and everyone in between. Shopping online for amaryllis bulbs allows you to choose from many unique colors and varieties. You can also find them at local garden centers and big box stores.

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