Amaryllis are often used as pieces of living decoration during the holiday season, usually sold alongside plants like poinsettias.
These plants are hardy and flower easily, making them great centerpieces for tables or general decor.
Additionally, amaryllis grows and stores energy in a large bulb below the soil.
Save and store the bulb after the flowering season in a cool dry location, and simply plant it again to bring back the same beautiful flowers each year.
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Amaryllis are a type of flowering bulb that send up long leaves and flowers like a lily. The bulbs grow quite large and have a papery outer-skin thats easily mistaken for an onion.
The most common amaryllis grown around the world is Amaryllis belladonna. This species has dozens of varieties with different colored flowers and patterns.
They are native to the hot and rocky southwestern regions of South Africa. They can be found growing in California, Israel, Brazil, and Holland.
Amaryllis plants grow in two cycles, flowering once a year.
In the first cycle involves growing leaves to store energy. The second involves the leaves dying back and the growth of flower stalks.
The same bulb can flower multiple times. There is evidence that the same bulb can flower for up to 75 years.
HGTV has a list of some of the different varieties.
Amaryllis plants do best in bright, indirect light. A room with a large window or a location outdoors that does not get direct sunlight for most of the day is ideal.
Too much sunlight can be dangerous. The leaves and flower stalks of Amaryllis are tender and will sunburn.
Dark locations are equally dangerous for the plant. Spots that don’t receive enough light may result in mold growth or root rot.
Dark conditions can also stunt flower growth and development, leading to smaller flowers (if any at all).
Additionally, it is a good idea to rotate Amaryllis every few days if planted in pots. Rotating pots prevents leaves and flowers from growing in one direction.
Amaryllis Water Requirements:
Amaryllis plants do not need a lot of water and prefer to be kept dry. As a result, use caution to not overwater them.
These plants do not like to sit in water. Improper drainage or too much water will result in root rot.
As a general rule amaryllis should be watered when the top 2 inches of soil have dried out. This gives enough time for the water to drain away from the bulb and keeps the roots from sitting in water without letting the plant fully dry out.
This equates to watering plants once a week or every 10 days.
Since drainage can be a problem with amaryllis, plant them in pots with holes at the bottom. Add a layer of rocks to the bottom of the pot to stop water from sitting in the soil.
Amaryllis watering is similar to most succulent watering. There’s an in-depth guide to that on our Succulent Watering Guide.
Amaryllis plants are technically tropical like most other houseplants, but they are a little more tolerable of changing temperatures and actually need a dormancy period.
Firstly, they should be kept between 65°F and 75°F (18-24°C) during their active growing season. The active growing season lasts for most of the year and encompasses the time the plants grow leaves and flower.
They will also tolerate temperatures as low as 60°F (15°C) and as high as 80°F (27°C) during the growing season. If the temperature falls below or rises above these temperatures, take the plants inside or cover them.
Unlike most tropical plants, Amaryllis requires a dormancy period. After the flowers and stalks die, place them in a dark and cool area for about 8 weeks before replanting.
Store the bulbs in an area with a constant temperature of 50°F to 55°F (10-13°C). The bulbs will tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures during dormancy.
Do not let amaryllis bulbs freeze at any point in time, regardless of if they are in a dormant state. Temperatures at or below 32°F (0°C) can kill the plant altogether.
There are some marketed cold varieties of amaryllis that can survive sustained temperatures as low as 10°F (-12°C). Overall, try to keep plants above freezing temperatures unless the variety is specifically cultivated to endure colder temperatures.
Additionally, never place plants in an area with a draft. Cold air can cause the leaves and stems to freeze and warm or windy locations can cause them to dry out.
Growing Amaryllis Outdoors:
Amaryllis can be kept outdoors year round in USDA zones 9-11.
Some cold hardy varieties can survive in USDA zones 6-8 all year if kept covered with a layer of mulch or straw during the winter.
Proper amaryllis care revolves around having proper soil for these plants. Thankfully, they are pretty adaptable and can be grown in most soils as long as it doesn’t retain water.
A fast draining cactus/citrus mix with an inch or two of potting soil at the bottom of the pot is a great combination.
The plants will also happily grow in just potting soil, loose bark chips, or even peat. Try to avoid using pine chips specifically because they are acidic and can damage the plant. Pine chips also retain a lot of water and may result in bacterial growth.
If the soil tends to retain a lot of water, try watering less and adding rocks for drainage. Changing soils is also a good idea if the problem is persistent.
Fertilizing Amaryllis Plants:
Amaryllis plants do not need fertilizer in order to survive or even flower, however, adding fertilizer can boost growth and lead to bigger flowers.
If planning to add fertilizer for more robust growth, use a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These fertilizers are pretty standard and can be found in the garden section of most stores.
Start fertilizing plants as soon as foliage begins to grow up from the bulb. If done too soon it can kill the roots of the bulb.
If using a liquid fertilizer make sure to mix it with water and follow the given instructions.
Apply standard fertilizers once or twice a month during waterings. Be careful not to overlap fertilizer application and waterings because too much water is dangerous.
If choosing to use slow release fertilizers, apply them once every three to four months unless clarified by the product’s instructions.
Amaryllis care is no hassle, and starting an amaryllis from a bulb is just as easy.
First, find an amaryllis bulb to plant. Check local department or floral stores, or consider buying some online from reputable sources.
Look for a pot that has about an inch or two of space between the edge of the pot and the bulb. Amaryllis like to be a little cramped while growing.
Second, layer the bottom of the pot with weights, rock, or a heavy substrate. The large foliage and flowers produced by this plant often cause it to tip over in its own pot.
Third, add the bulb to the pot and add soil. Leave about 1/3 of the bulb above the soil line to prevent rotting and ensure the sprouts from the bulb have access to light.
Lastly, place the bulb in an area that gets bright, indirect light and allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. The bulb will rapidly send up shoots that will form into elongated leaves.
After some time, the bulb will send up stalks that bloom into beautiful flowers. Some leaves might begin to die back, but it can still send up flower stalks.
Amaryllis care is easy and straightforward. This plants will continue to flower for years to come if cared for properly!
Growing Cycle Gallery:
When starting your Amaryllis care adventure, the newly planted bulb will send up new leaf shoots after receiving water. They should be noticeable in a few days or weeks.
Then, after some time the leaf shoots continue to grow quite large. The leaves help the plant store nutrients in the bulb to flower. It also stores energy for the next growing season.
At some point, the leaves may begin to die off and a flower bud will emerge on a stalk. Continue to care for the plant as usual and allow it to continue growing its flower.
The flowers bloom over the course of a few days. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns that can be very unique. Also, the same bulb will continue to produce the same flowers over many seasons.
If your Amaryllis care was successful and its flowers managed to get pollinated, the flower will die back and leave a seed pod. The pod continues to grow and will split open to drop thin, paper-like seeds.
Amaryllis Propagation Methods:
There are a few different ways to propagate more amaryllis plants from your original varieties.
The easiest way to do this is to wait for the development of additional bulbs below the soil.
The main bulb will slowly produce new bulbs, called bulblets, that can be separated using a sharp and sterile cutting tool.
Wait for the bulblets to grow to about 1/3 the size of the main bulb before separating.
Or, wait for the bulblets to shoot up their own leaves and cut them away after the leaves die back to ensure they can sustain themselves.
Dividing Up the Main Bulb
The main bulb itself can be sliced into multiple parts that each develop into individual plants.
Right after growing season when the leaves start to die back, usually around late summer to early fall, pull the main bulb from the soil.
Clean the bulb of any excess soil, and cut down vertically from the top.
Separate the bulb into quarters (you can do more cuts, but note that larger slices are more likely to survive)
Place the bulb cuttings into soil, coving about 2/3 of the total cutting.
The bulb will heal over and begin to develop bulblets and leaves over the next few months.
Amaryllis readily flowers, and if you have more than one try cross pollinating them!
If the pollination is successful, the flowers will die off and be replaced by a seed pods atop the flower stalk.
Eventually, the seed pods will ripen and burst open to reveal dozens of thin, paper-like seeds.
Plant the seeds directly into the soil or germinate them on a wet paper towel.
Once they germinate, take care to keep them moist and allow them to develop.
After a few years, usually three to five, they will be ready to produce flowers.
Until then they will continue to develop bulbs beneath the soil.