How To Grow Amaryllis

One of our favorites for dependable holiday bloom indoors is the amaryllis. You can usually find the bulbs on your garden center’s shelves or in catalogs beginning in mid-September through February. And nothing could be easier to grow than amyrillis.

The amaryllis, being a sun lover, will grow best in a sunny window that gets at least 6 hours of good light every day. They like warm temperatures, around 70-75 F, which means they will be happy in the average home. Once flowering begins, moving your amaryllis to a slightly cooler location, about 65 F, will help to make the flowers last longer.

Your amaryllis bulb is a big ugly thing that somewhat resembles an onion. If your bulb is loose, rather than preplanted in a pot or container, the first thing you’ll want to do is locate a pot or container that’s about an inch or two larger in diameter than the base of the bulb. Clay or plastic will work but make sure it has a hole in the bottom for drainage.

Plant the amaryllis so that one-third to one-half of the bulb is above the soil or growing medium. This ensures that the bulb’s nose stays dry which helps prevent fungal infections. Use any good potting soil to grow your amaryllis.

Water immediately once you plant your amaryllis bulb. Keep the soil slightly moist, but not overly wet. When flowering starts, increase the frequency of watering. Water when the soil surface feels dry, usually once a week.

Do not fertilize the plant while it has no leaves. This is important to remember since the bulb generally will send up the flowering stalk before it does much in the way of leaf development. Fertilizing too soon will kill the roots… and that means no flowers. Once leaves begin to develop, fertilize twice a month using a soluble fertilizer recommended for indoor potted plants.

Remove the blossoms as soon as they fade to prevent seed formation, which would simply weaken the bulb. Do this by cutting the stem off just above the bulb. Do not remove any leaves. Make sure you keep your amaryllis in a sunny window now and water and fertilize it regularly. This is the active growth stage of your bulb and proper care now will give you a bigger bulb (and more flowers) next season.

It’s easy to bring your amaryllis bulb into flower again next season. First of all, decide when you want it to bloom. Then count backwards about eight to ten weeks. That’s when you will stop watering and fertilizing the bulb. Yes, it will seem to die but don’t worry, it’s simply taking a rest.

The leaves will turn yellow and wither but don’t be alarmed. At this point, when the leaves are dead, if your bulb seems to have grown so that it’s pressing against the sides of its pot, you can replant it into something larger.

You will notice the first signs of new growth beginning after an eight to ten week dormant period. When you see the top of the new flower bud beginning to emerge from the bulb, carefully trim off all the dead or yellowed leaves and repot it, if it seems too crowded. Then move the pot to a sunny area and start watering it again. Remember, no fertilizer until it has leaves!

Rotate the plant every few days so the flower stalk doesn’t lean towards the light too much. You will be rewarded with flowers very near the date you planned.

And that’s all there is to bringing your lovely amaryllis bulb into bloom for a second season!


‘Tis the season and our thoughts are turning to gifts and decorations once again. And once again, my favorite in BOTH categories comes to mind… the lovely Amaryllis!

Want some bright, cheerful color inside for the holidays? Plant amaryllis! This big ugly bulb will burst into bloom in just a few weeks with very little effort on your part. Because it’s so spectacular in appearance and so easy to grow, the amaryllis makes a wonderful gift, too.

Amaryllis can be found in just about any garden center at this time of the year. Most popular is the deep red color but these days, there is a wide variety of colors, textures, shapes and sizes in amaryllis blossoms. Anything ranging from snow white to pink or peach or even stripes and picotee has been added to the various red varieties.

If you purchase your amaryllis bulb pre-packaged, there will be full growing instructions printed on the box or insert. If you find a bulb in a bulk bin, the instructions may be printed on a handout. Just in case you don’t have the instructions, here are the basics:

Choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the diameter of the bulb. Amaryllis likes to be somewhat crowded. Be sure you have about a half to one inch of space all around the bulb and it will be perfect. Fill the pot about halfway with good potting soil and then set the bulb on the soil surface. Fill the pot so that about half of the bulb is left exposed. Water thoroughly and then put the pot in a warm, well-lit spot and forget it for a while. Don’t water it again until you see growth. From that point on, keep the soil evenly moist.

You will most likely see a flower bud growing long before the leaves show up. That’s normal, so don’t be alarmed. This thick sturdy stem will have just one large bud at its tip, but when that bud opens, you should have a cluster of 2 to 4 huge flowers. Bigger bulbs will have more flowers.

If you plan to save your bulb for a repeat performance next year, feed it with a houseplant fertilizer according to the package directions. And when the flowers fade, cut off the stem to conserve the bulb’s strength. Do not cut the leaves. Those are essential to the bulb’s growth for next year.

When the strap-like amaryllis leaves begin to yellow and die, withhold water from the bulb until the soil dries out. Then remove your bulb, shake off any loose soil and store it in a cool dry place.

Next year, about 6 weeks before you want to see blossoms, plant your amaryllis bulb exactly the same way you did it this year. You’ll need a larger pot, though, because your bulb should have expanded from its original size.

You can repeat this process year after year for as long as you care to do it. Each year, your amaryllis bulb will grow a bit more, rewarding you with more and larger blooms each season.