How to Grow and Care for Amaryllis (and Make the Bulbs Rebloom!)
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When your green thumb is itching to dig in the dirt this winter, turn to amaryllis! Learn how to grow amaryllis and get the bulbs to rebloom.
How to Grow Amaryllis Bulbs
One of the easiest and most impressive flowers around, amaryllis bulbs blossom in almost every color of the rainbow, from velvety red to pale green, with huge trumpet-shaped flowers that may reach 8 inches across. Bearing multiple buds on a single stalk, amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are popular holiday gifts. Horticulturalists have created dozens of amaryllis specimens, and they’re all easy to maintain. Two- to 3-foot stems support flowers that may be striped, bicolored or solid. Here’s how to grow amaryllis bulbs.
Amaryllis Care Tips
- Plant one bulb in a single pot or several in a larger container.
- For one amaryllis, choose a vessel at least 7 to 8 inches deep and 1 inch larger than the bulb in diameter.
- Make sure the pot you choose has proper drainage holes to keep the roots from becoming waterlogged.
- Put a few inches of potting mix in the pot, settle the bulb on top, then fill in the sides with additional mix.
- When you’re done, the top one-third of the bulb should be popping out from the dirt.
- Place the container in a cool, sunny spot and keep the potting mix barely moist.
- Amaryllis does best in rooms that are around 65 degrees.
- Bulbs are simple to start indoors, but take seven to 10 weeks to bloom.
Depending on the variety, it takes about a month for the bulb to sprout. Once the stem sprouts, turn the pot occasionally to even out sun exposure to ensure straight growth. Later, once the flowers burst open, move the container away from direct sunlight and keep it cool. When the first round of blooms fades, cut them off and, once the stem is bare, cut it back to just above the bulb. Some amaryllis types may produce a second, or even third, batch of brilliant blooms.
With care and attention, you can keep your amaryllis bulb blooming year after year. To coax your plant into blooming around the holidays, move the pot to a cool place (around 55 degrees) in fall to begin its dormant period.
Courtesy John Doyle
How to Get Amaryllis Bulbs to Rebloom
“I would like to grow amaryllis year-round without the fall resting time. What are the light, water, and fertilizer requirements?” asks Caryl Baetjer of Unionville, Pennsylvania
Melinda Myers: If you ask several gardeners this question you will likely receive several different recommendations for reblooming amaryllis. Most do involve a rest period. Here’s what I suggest. Remove the flower stalk once the flowers fade and add a flowering plant fertilizer. Move the plants outdoors in summer for best results (a sunny window works, too). During the warmer months, amaryllis plants generate the energy needed for new growth and flowers. In the winter, move it to a slightly cooler, brightly lit location. At this point, your plant likely has just a few leaves, so water sparingly. If you are lucky, new flower stalks appear in January or February. The key is finding a method that works best for you, your growing conditions and the plant.
Where to Buy Amaryllis Bulbs
Check out the best websites for buying flower bulbs online.
Planting Amaryllis Outside
While, Northern gardeners are used to forcing this plant to bloom in pots indoors, those gardening in Zones 9 and 10 can add them to the perennial garden and leave them 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 back. Grow in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil for best results.
Why Is My Amaryllis Not Blooming?
“My amaryllis has five green leaves, and it’s about 14 inches tall, but no bloom. What could be wrong with it? asks Joyce LeMaster of Pharr, Texas.”
Melinda Myers: You’re lucky to be able to grow amaryllis indoors or out in your area. Start by evaluating the growing conditions. Make sure your plant is in a mostly sunny spot with a bit of afternoon shade and moist, well-drained soil. Avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer, which can prevent flowering. Grow indoor amaryllis plants in a sunny window and water as needed. Consider moving them outdoors spring through summer. In late summer cut back on watering and move the plant to a cool location indoors to induce dormancy. In eight to 10 weeks you should notice new growth. Bring your sprouting amaryllis into a warm, sunny window to encourage growth and flowering.
How to Grow Amaryllis Seeds
“When the pods of my amaryllis broke open, I collected the seeds. What should I do with them and how do I plant them?” Gerald Stevens of Parkersburg, Illinois.
Melinda Myers: Allow freshly collected seeds to dry for several days before planting or store the dried seeds in the refrigerator until you’re ready to plant. Start with clean containers with drainage holes, flled with a sterile potting or seed starting mix. Leave the papery covering on the seeds intact and lay them on the potting mix. Cover lightly, about 1/8 of an inch, with potting mix. Keep the soil warm (70 to 75 degrees) and moist. Seeds should germinate within 4 to 6 weeks. The seedlings will look like a young chive plant. Move them to a sunny location or under artificial lights as soon as they appear. Keep in mind it will take several years for the plants to reach maturity and start producing flowers.
Red Blotch Treatment
Courtesy Sue Gronholz
“The amaryllis bulbs I store and regrow have red blotches on the leaves and stems. What’s wrong with them?” asks Sue Gronholz of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
Melinda Myers: The symptoms match both the name and the description of red blotch, a fungal disease. It may develop at the base of flower stalks and emerging leaves. Infected leaves may become distorted or the stalks could break easily. The disease isn’t fatal, but it can ruin the plant’s appearance. Reduce the risk of disease by buying healthy bulbs, using clean containers and planting in sterile potting mix. Prevent the spread by cleaning tools and stakes used on infected plants with rubbing alcohol. If the disease persists, use a fungicide or replace the bulbs.