Amaryllis bulbs are fun to watch grow, and their big, bold flowers are like a breath of spring when grown indoors in the winter months. They’re very popular for gifting around the holidays and that’s the way many people first discover the beauty of this plant.
Where to Get an Amaryllis Bulb
Amaryllis bulbs are available in several forms. You can get them in packaged kits that include soil, pot and a bulb. You can also get a bulb that has been treated with a relatively new process called “waxing”. The amaryllis bulb is encased in a wax coating. No soil is involved but the wax retains the bulb’s moisture so it doesn’t need water, and all the nutrients the plant needs to get started are available in the bulb itself. The waxed bulb is designed to be freestanding, or you can place it in a wide-mouthed vase or decorative container. The plant will grow and bloom without soil or water.
Loose bulbs may also be purchased that you can pot up yourself. In this case, you’ll need to make sure you have a container (with a drainage hole) and potting mix. You will also want to make sure that the bulbs have already received a treatment that allowed the bulb a period of dormancy. This dormant period is necessary for the bulb to set flower buds.
Caring for Potted Amaryllis
Once your bulb is situated in its container it will grow with very little care. If you think you’ll want to keep the plant beyond the blooming period, put it in a location where the developing plant can get bright, indirect light. This will result in the best foliage development.
Water your amaryllis bulb when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Potted bulbs will start growing roots rapidly. You might also want to consider staking your plant
if the flower stems get very tall and start to lean. A lot of leaning could indicate that your plant is stretching towards the light.
Remedy this by rotating the pot a quarter turn every couple of days so that it’s getting light equally distributed on all sides of the plant.
What to Do When Amaryllis is Done Blooming
Once the flowering period has ended and the blooms are wilted, you have a couple of options. One is to simply dispose of the plant. The other is to continue growing your plant and enjoying it as a houseplant. Here are the steps to keep growing your amaryllis plant:
1. Cut off the flower stalk close to the top of the bulb. At this stage, you are probably already seeing leaves emerging from the bulb.
Amaryllis plants can get big so if your plant is currently in a flimsy plastic pot, you’ll want to upgrade to a heavier ceramic or terra cotta pot. The weight of the pot will keep the plant stable and prevent it from tipping over. Select a pot 1 to 2 inches larger than the pot it’s currently in
and make sure it has a drainage hole. A general-purpose potting mix is suitable for repotting your amaryllis
3. Place a layer of soil in the bottom of the new pot. Remove the plant from its current container and set it inside the new pot. Fill in the space around the bulb with soil. Make sure that once the pot is filled, the top third of the bulb remains exposed.
4. If growing indoors, treat your amaryllis like your other houseplants. Place it where it will receive bright, indirect light and feed it on the same schedule as your other plants. This is an important time for your plant since the developing foliage will help the bulb grow and replenish nutrients that were depleted during blooming.
How to Grow Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs
If you want to keep your waxed amaryllis bulb after flowering, you’ll need to carefully remove the wax coating by gently picking it off. Once the bulb is out of the wax, cut off any remaining flower stalks and inspect the bulb. If the bulb appears firm and healthy, pot the bulb as previously described.
Try to remove the wax and pot the bulb as soon as the flowering is over. Once the foliage starts growing it can quickly deplete any remaining nourishment in the bulb. If the bulb seems shrunken or mushy, it’s not likely to recover. You’ll want to get a new bulb next year and try again.
How to Grow Amaryllis Outdoors
Your potted amaryllis can be grown outdoors if temperatures are above 50 degrees F. When the temperatures start to fall you will need to bring it back indoors. If you live in an area where winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing (USDA hardiness zones 9-11), you can plant your bulb in the ground and leave it there year-round. It’s best to consider your amaryllis a “tender perennial” if there’s any chance of it getting frosted in the winter. Here are the steps for planting an amaryllis outdoors:
1. Plant your amaryllis in a location where it receives morning or late afternoon sunlight if possible. A long day in full sun can be too much for amaryllis.
2. Apply mulch around your bulb to help keep the soil moist in summer, as well as provide some protection from the winter chill.
3. If you got your plant as a bulb forced into bloom for the winter months, it may take a season or two for the bulb to revert to its normal blooming schedule once it’s living outdoors. Amaryllis naturally bloom in the spring.
How to Get Your Potted Amaryllis Bulb to Rebloom
There are several ways to get your amaryllis bulb to flower again. Here’s a simple method that we recommend:
1. Around the first of September stop watering your amaryllis plant. If possible, move it to a low-light, cool location such as a basement, three-season room, cellar or garage. Ideally the location for this stage should get no lower than 55 degrees F. You don’t want the bulb to freeze. If you don’t have such a location, at least try to move your amaryllis to a lower light setting to discourage new growth. The plant will start to die back as you force it into a state of dormancy.
2. Leave your amaryllis alone for 6 to 8 weeks. After that, you can tidy up any dead foliage, return your plant to its happy place near a bright window, and resume regular watering. Your plant will start growing again and, hopefully, send up a flower stalk or two around the holidays. You can repeat this process every year for your potted amaryllis to enjoy flowers during the winter months.
There are many flowering bulbs that are sold as potted plants, especially during holidays. Most of these can be successfully planted in your garden. Follow the steps in our article, Beyond Basic Care – Potted Flowering Bulbs
, to learn how easy it is to enjoy these plants for years to come.