Dolores has landscaped for private clients, maintained one client's small orchid collection, and keeps 30 houseplants.
A Popular Winter-Blooming Houseplant
Amaryllis is a stunning houseplant often sold at Christmas time. A tall stalk grows from the large, heavy bulb some 7–10 weeks after planting. Each bulb produces one or two stalks which, in turn, produce two to four very impressive blooms.
The flowers are large, lily-like, and trumpet-shaped with prominent stamens. Flower colors range from white to red, salmon, pink, yellow, flecked, or bi-color with one color fading into another.
The Latin name is Hippeastrum acramannii. The actual Amaryllis belladonna is a beautiful flower that is related to that which we call Amaryllis.
Amaryllis are easily available and relatively inexpensive, though the more exotic or newer hybrids may cost a bit more than the most common varieties.
How to Plant an Amaryllis Bulb
Purchase a bare bulb or one that has been planted in a container. You may see a bit of green on the top, which shows the stem is emerging from dormancy. Inspect the bulb. Don't buy one that looks shriveled, moldy, or brown at the edges.
- If you plant the bulb yourself, soak it for a few hours in lukewarm water.
- Choose a container that is heavy enough so that the top-heavy Amaryllis will not topple over. Plastic containers are too lightweight and not really suitable for such a dramatic flower. Terra-cotta can be quite inexpensive and offers the weight needed to offset the weight of the blooming plant.
- Fill the bottom of the pot with small stones or pieces of broken terra-cotta. If you still think that the plant will need more bottom-weight, you can place a larger rock in the container.
- Plant the bulb in a loose soil mix with commercial potting soil, peat moss or humus, and perlite. (Perlite is a soil conditioner that reduces soil clumping and improves drainage)
- Set the bulb into the soil with the widest part facing down. Allow the top 1/3 or 1/4 of the bulb to protrude above the surface of the soil.
- Place the container in a warm, brightly lit area. The plant will need some direct sunlight. An east or southeast-facing window is best.
- Water sparingly.
- After the stalk emerges, increase water. Allow soil to nearly dry out before watering again. Do not overwater. Too much water will rot the roots.
- Turn container often as the stalk will grow towards the light. The stalk shows up first. Foliage will grow in later.
- The leaves are medium green, strappy, and slightly arching.
In order to keep the Amaryllis in bloom for the longest possible time, move it into a cooler area of the house. Flowers generally last longer when kept relatively cool and out of direct sunlight.
How to Get Amaryllis to Bloom Again the Next Year
- When the flowers wither, remove them from the stalk.
- After all the flowers have faded, cut the stalk down close to the foliage. Keep watering the plant and begin to feed with a liquid fertilizer. (Use a fertilizer that is higher in phosphate and potash, the last two numbers in the three-number sequence on fertilizer container).
- Plant outdoors when there is no longer a chance of frost or leave in a container and maintain until the leaves yellow and die mid-summer to early fall.
- Snip of the dead leaves to within 2" of the bulb.
- Remove the bulb from the soil mix and gently brush off any soil.
- Dump soil and clean the container.
- Store bulb in a dark area at temperatures between 40–50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can keep it in a garage or the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator.
- Allow the bulb to rest in cold storage for 6–8 weeks.
Now you are ready to start all over again! If you have several bulbs, stagger planting. Plant one bulb every two weeks for a continuous show of these magnificent flowering houseplants.
Questions & Answers
Question: If the bulb shows signs of leaf growth, but no sign of stalk will the stalk eventually grow or is this bulb only going to grow leaves?
Answer: Some varieties of Amaryllis sprout leaves before they sprout a stalk. After planting a bulb, the stalk should emerge in seven to ten weeks. Follow the instructions given in the article. Not all plants behave exactly the way we expect. I can not promise that your bulb will produce a stalk or a giant, amazing bloom. It can be wonderful to watch the emergence of an Amaryliss, and we always hope for the best.
© 2013 Dolores Monet
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on January 16, 2015:
Peggy W - oh you lucky gardeners of the South! I try to avoid tropical plants, hating to drag them in and out of the house. It must be beautiful to have those huge blooms outdoors. Getting your Amaryllis to bloom again should really be a once a year thing. The leaves need to gather strength after blooming, then a good rest to rebloom. Thanks for dropping in!
sgbrown - Hi Sheila - another Southern gal! Up here in the cold, we are so happy to have one or two flowers in winter. It's a whole other thing! Thanks!
HappyMike - this article speaks to growing Amaryllis indoors!
Jeannieinabottle - I work for a woman and part of my job is taking care of her plants. I've gotten moth orchids as well as Amaryllis to rebloom for her. Not for me though. The one I bought was a dud. Check out the bulb when you make your purchase. If it seems too dry or soft, don't get it. Thanks!
WannaB Writer - yet another Southern gal living in a gardener's paradise! I never wrote one about growing them outdoors, that must be someone else. I am more concerned with us poor cold folks shivering in the snow, dreaming of flowers, haha. Thanks!
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on January 14, 2015:
RTalloni - red and white stripes sounds so pretty! Hope it blooms again for you!
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on January 11, 2015:
I have never grown these indoors, but I have a lot of them outside. I'm afraid I have pretty much neglected them and just let them do their thing every year. I guess I should pay more attention to them. I'd like to dig some up and take them to another property, but I've never been sure of the right time. Guess I'd better read your other article on caring for these plants.
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on July 09, 2013:
I had a beautiful amaryllis once, but unfortunately, it never came back. I suppose I did something wrong. If I get another one, I will definitely take your advice since it is such a stunning plant when it blooms. Great advice and voted up!
Abdus Salam from Bangladesh on May 21, 2013:
Thanks for sharing the beautiful topic!!
HappyMikeWritter on May 21, 2013:
I love flowers. Your articles seems like a great advice for my garden :-) Thank you soo much for sharing :-)
Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on May 21, 2013:
I'm so glad I found this! I had two amaryllis plants come up and bloom one year, they were apparently planted by the previous owner of our house. I love them, they were bright red and beautiful! The next year, they came back, but didn't bloom, so I moved them to give them more sun. They didn't bloom again. Know I realize I planted them way too deep. I would love to try them again and this time, I will start them inside. I love your information, thank you so much! Voted up, useful and sharing! :)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2013:
This is interesting that you could force an amaryllis bulb to bloom several times a year by doing what you suggested. In the south we just plant them in the ground if we have been gifted with one and they multiply to bloom again year after year. Voted up, useful and interesting.
RTalloni on May 15, 2013:
Amaryllis is a beautiful flowering plant! I wish I could post a photo of the party my red and white striped amaryllis are having here in this comment. :) I might have to dig them up next winter and let them bloom indoors, then outdoors next spring.