How to water amaryllis?

Amaryllis on the Rocks: Growing Hippeastrum in Water

For years I maintained a large collection of amaryllis bulbs in the time-honored method by potting up the same specimens year after year. Despite the rewards of their flowers, I eventually grew tired of the chore of replanting so many behemoth bulbs. I also ran out of space to store the plants during their long (and not particularly attractive) slide into dormancy.
On a trip to the local home store last November, an amaryllis set in a bed of decorative stones inside a clear glass container drew my attention. I was struck by the appeal of the fat brown bulb itself. Viewing its big white roots through the clear glass felt a bit like having a view of life underground.
Reproducing the look was simple, and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with containers of varying shapes and stones of different colors and sizes. By using my own containers, shopping for amaryllis on sale, and recycling the decorative stones as I start new bulbs, I’ve kept the cost under $5 each time. Besides being inexpensive, this method couldn’t be easier, and also makes a great gift.

Here’s what you’ll need:
• a clear glass container with an opening wide enough to accommodate the bulb and your hand

• clean stones or pebbles

• aquarium charcoal (optional)

• a loose, dormant (or barely emerging) amaryllis bulb

• distilled water (optional)

If you’re like me, you already have some large glass vases or other clear containers gathering dust. If not, check out your favorite discount store or resale shop. Wash the container in warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly.
I purchased packets of stones, uniform in size and color, from the floral section of the craft store. You could also use marbles. Rinsing the stones thoroughly will help keep the water you pour over them fresh and clean-looking.
Dormant amaryllis bulbs ready for do-it-yourself planting are widely available beginning in the late fall. You can often find them at reduced prices after January 1. If you find a good buy and purchase several bulbs at once, you may wish to stagger their starting times. If so, you can keep the bulbs from breaking dormancy by placing them in a dark, dry, cool spot (not the refrigerator) until you’re ready to plant.

Directions:

1. Place stones in the bottom of the glass container to a depth of about 3 or 4 inches. Add some aquarium charcoal, if desired, to help keep odors from forming.

2. Snip away any old shriveled, dried roots from the base of the amaryllis, being careful to leave the fleshy, white roots. Removing old roots will help prevent them from decomposing in the water.

3. Place the bulb root side down on top of the stones. Continue adding more stones to serve as an anchor, leaving the top third of the bulb uncovered.

4. Add water to the container until it reaches about 1 inch below the bottom of the bulb. (I used distilled water rather than tap water to help prevent mineral deposits from forming on the glass.)
Note: It’s very important that the bulb’s base not sit in water — if it does, it will rot.

5. Place the container in a warm, sunny spot indoors — in front of a south window is ideal. Check the water level daily and add more water as needed.

6. Watch for the leaves and flower stalks that will soon emerge. Rotating the container frequently will help the stalks grow straight.

The main disadvantage of this easy growing method is that once bloom is finished, the amaryllis bulb is likely not worth saving for future growing seasons. For this reason, it makes sense to use the least expensive amaryllis bulbs you can find. The generic discount varieties may not display unusual colors or outstanding size, but they still have plenty of flower power. As for the more rare or fancy cultivars, you’ll undoubtedly want to plant them in the traditional manner (See Amaryllis 101), and continue to care for them after blooming, so that you can enjoy them for many years to come.

After the last bloom fades on your amaryllis on the rocks, thoroughly wash and rinse the container and stones. You’re now ready to arrange your next bulb to bring bright, cheerful color indoors!

Growing amaryllis in water is a fun project, and looks cool too. It’s easy to do, and you can get really creative with it. In this post, I will give you step-by-step instructions for how to plant an amaryllis bulb in water, and share some simple care tips too.

Planting amaryllis in water rather than dirt is a cute way to display them for the holidays, and it’s a really fun DIY project too. They can’t be grown in water forever. But, when done correctly, they will survive long enough to bloom.

Below you’ll learn exactly how to force amaryllis bulbs in water. Plus I’ll give you some simple care tips, and I’ll also discuss the cons of doing it (just in case you decide to change your mind).

If you want to learn all about growing them and keeping them for years to come, then be sure to read my complete amaryllis plant care guide.

Growing Amaryllis In Water

In order to grow amaryllis in water, all you need is an amaryllis bulb, and a couple of items you can find around the house…

Supplies Needed:

  • Flower vase or bulb vase
  • Decorative pebbles, glass marbles, or rocks
  • Bare root amaryllis bulb
  • Floral snips or bonsai shears
  • Room temperature water

Supplies for planting amaryllis bulbs in water

Steps For Planting An Amaryllis Bulb In Water

This is a super easy project, and only takes about 20 minutes to complete once you have collected all of your supplies. Here are the detailed step-by-step instructions…

Step 1: Choose your vase – Any flower vase you have on hand will work. Or you can buy one that’s specifically made for forcing bulbs in water. Be sure to use one that’s proportionate to the size of the bulb though, you don’t want to go too large.

One that is 5 – 8″ tall is plenty, you don’t need anything too deep. For my project, I used a 6″ tall cylinder vase and a 6″ bulb vase.

Step 2: Choose the pebbles – The pebbles are not only for decoration, but they also help to stabilize the bulb, and hold it up and out of the water. You could use decorative rock or glass marbles rather than pebbles.

For my project I chose to use two kinds of river rock, one is multi-colored rock, and the other is plain black rock (which will look stunning with my red amaryllis flowers!).

If you use a bulb vase, and your bulb can sit on top of the rim, then you won’t need any pebbles (unless you like them for decorative purposes).

Step 3: Trim off any dead roots – Before you grow amaryllis in water, you should check the roots. Use your floral snips to remove any that aren’t firm and white. Dead or damaged roots will decay, and make the water get yucky (and stinky) very quickly.

Trimming dead roots from amaryllis bulbs

Step 4: Rinse dirt off the roots – If the bulb was previously growing in dirt, then you’ll want to rinse any remaining debris and soil off the roots before planting the bulb in water. This will help to keep the water clear and fresh longer too.

Clean bare root amaryllis bulbs before placing in water

Step 5: Position your amaryllis bulb in the vase – Position the bulb in the vase at the level you want it. If your vase is shallow, you can trim the roots a bit to make the bulb sit lower.

If your amaryllis bulb doesn’t have any roots yet, then you can fill the vase with pebbles first (step 6), and place the bulb (pointy side up) on top of the pebbles.

Positioning amaryllis bulb in the vase

Step 6: Add pebbles to your vase – Slowly add your rocks, pebbles or marbles to the vase. If you’re working with a glass vase, take care not to drop them in, or it could break the glass. You might find it easier to tilt the vase sideways so the rocks will slide into the bottom slower.

Rotate the vase as you work to fill it with pebbles so that your bulb stays centered in the vase, and to hide as many of the roots as you can. You can also gently shake the vase so the pebbles will settle evenly.

Adding rocks into the glass vase

Step 7: Fill vase with tepid water – Fill the vase so that the water line is below the bottom of the bulb. The trick to successfully growing amaryllis in water is to make sure the bulb never touches the water.

So, when you fill it up, ensure the bulb is completely above the water line, or it will only rot. And take it from someone who has made this mistake before, a rotting amaryllis bulb does NOT smell good. (GAG!)

Filling the vase with water

Step 8: Place your bulbs in a sunny location – Once your amaryllis is planted in water, move it to a warm, sunny spot, and within a few weeks it should start to grow.

Sometimes the leaves will grow first, and sometimes the flower will. Don’t worry if the leaves start to grow first, that doesn’t mean your amaryllis won’t bloom.

Amaryllis bulb sitting above the water line

How To Care For Amaryllis Bulbs In Water

Caring for an amaryllis growing in water is a bit different than caring for them in soil. Here are some tips for the best success…

  • Keep an eye on the water level to make sure it doesn’t evaporate completely, you never want the roots to dry out.
  • Try to maintain the water level so it stays just below the bottom of the bulb at all times. Remember, if the bulb is ever left sitting in water, it will rot.
  • Make sure to keep the water fresh so that it stays clean. Flush the vase with fresh water once a week for best results.
  • When your amaryllis starts to bloom, the flower spike will grow quickly. They tend to reach towards the light, so turn the vase every day in order to keep it growing straight. You could also add a grow light.

Red amaryllis flowers

The Downside Of Forcing Amaryllis Bulbs In Water

Growing amaryllis bulbs in water is a fun project, and can add a lovely dramatic effect to your Christmas or holiday decor, but… there is a downside.

Amaryllis bulbs grown in water will usually need to be thrown out because they won’t grow very well afterward.

However, if the bulb is firm, and isn’t showing any signs of rot after you remove it from the water, then you certainly could try planting it in soil. But it may take a few years of growing it in dirt before your amaryllis will bloom again.

Growing amaryllis in water is a fun project, and can add a unique flair to your holiday decor. With proper care, you will be rewarded with gorgeous blooms in a few short weeks.

Do you strive to grow beautiful houseplants, but struggle keeping them alive through the winter? Then my Winter Houseplant Care eBook is exactly what you need! It will show you everything you need to know in order to keep them thriving year round! !

Products Used For This Project

More Houseplant Care Posts

  • How To Grow Indoor Plants: The Ultimate Guide
  • How To Save A Rotting Cactus Plant
  • Fall Houseplant Care Guide
  • How To Melt Snow For Watering Houseplants

Have you ever tried growing amaryllis in water before? Share your tips in the comments section below.

How to Grow Amaryllis Bulbs in Water

Amaryllis bulbs produce large and showy flowers. Gardeners often plant amaryllis bulbs in containers in the autumn to force blooms over the winter when flowers are in short supply. Amaryllis grows and blooms easily in soil; it also blooms readily when potted in water.

Place approximately 4 inches of river stones in a glass container 8 inches wide and 12 inches tall.

Examine the amaryllis bulb to find any roots extending from the bottom that are brown and dry. Cut off these roots without disturbing the white healthy roots.

Set the bulb on the river stones with the roots facing down. Add river stones around the sides of the bulb until only the upper 1/3 of the bulb is uncovered.

Add water to the container until the water level is 1 inch below the top of the amaryllis bulb. Do not submerge the amaryllis bulb–this will cause decay.

Place the container in a location that receives direct sunlight and stays at a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees F. Replenish the water every day as it evaporates so that it stays at the same level.

Watch for an amaryllis shoot to emerge in two to eight weeks. When the amaryllis blooms, rotate the container 90 degrees every day or two so that the bloom grows straight.

Discard the bulb when the blossoms wilt. Amaryllis bulbs grown in water do not generally grow well in subsequent plantings.

How often should I water an Amaryllis plant?

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Growing Amaryllis

These beautiful tropical bulbs are actually in the family Hippeastrum. Flowering in fall or winter, they are often associated with Christmas. Care is easy, even though something this special looks like it should be difficult to grow; read on to see how easy it can be . . . (and we promise we’ll let you take all the credit).

Potting

Of course, our potted Amaryllis are ready to grow, but if you buy just a bulb it will need to be potted. As your Amaryllis will be top-heavy when in full bloom, we recommend using a heavy clay pot, preferably no more than an inch wider all around than the bulb itself. Use a bagged potting soil leaving approximately 1/3 of the bulb showing above the soil level. Water thoroughly, then do not water again until the soil is almost completely dry. (See how to grow Amaryllis in water below)

Watering

Water your Amaryllis sparingly until the sprout is well out of the bulb. From then on, start watering regularly when the soil is just dry, and within a few weeks you’ll have a spectacular floral show in your home. Remember to keep turning the pot regularly to make the stalk grow up straight, as the Amaryllis does have a tendency to lean toward the light. No fertilizer is required at this time.

Light & Temperature

Place your Amaryllis near a sunny window. Amaryllis prefer temperatures in the 65°-80°F range, with temperatures at the warmer end of the range producing fastest growth, and longer-lasting flowers at the cooler end.

After Care

With a little skill and work, you can keep your Amaryllis alive for another beautiful holiday display next year. (lt is definitely easier to buy a new bulb, but for those of you who love a challenge, this is worth trying!)

After the flowers have faded, trim the flower stalk (not the leaves!) back to 3-4”. Keep watering the plant and start a feeding program with a liquid plant fertilizer, fertilizing at least once a month. Any fertilizer suitable for houseplants will do. Do not apply fertilizer to dry soil, as this can burn the feeder roots and retard healthy growth. Amaryllis are big eaters, and they must grow a number of leaves during the summer. This growth helps them restore their strength for the production of next year’s flowers.

After the last danger of frost has passed, you can plant your Amaryllis, pot and all, straight into your garden in a sunny spot. Continue your feeding program, and let leaf growth develop freely. Around September, the leaves should start to yellow, signaling that the plant needs a rest. (If the leaved do not naturally yellow at this time, withhold all water until they yellow and die.) Cut the leaves back to the neck of the bulb, dig up the plant and pot, and store the whole thing in your basement or garage. Store until around December, or until the bulb shows signs of new tip growth. Then go back to the start of this page, and enjoy your Amaryllis all over again!

Repotting

Your Amaryllis can stay in the same pot for a few years, as long as there is still at least a thumb’s-width between the bulb and the pot. Amaryllis don’t mind being somewhat pot-bound. Eventually, though, you’ll have to repot. It’s easiest to do this as you begin to re-grow the bulb after the fall dormancy. Rinse soil completely from the roots, trim off any dead, mushy roots, and repot into a pot one size larger.

Van Engelen

AMARYLLIS: THE ART & SOUL OF WINTER

Nothing brings more joy, color and song to our spirits than huge Amaryllis flowers over winter’s long, dark days. Amaryllis are the Art and Soul of Winter™.

Holiday or Winter Blooming?
If you want your Amaryllis to bloom for the holidays, please choose from among our Christmas Flowering Amaryllis, grown in South Africa in the southern hemisphere. They will also bloom after the holidays, but they are the only varieties that will reliably bloom for the holidays. Christmas Flowering Amaryllis usually take four to six weeks to bloom once potted. Royal Dutch Amaryllis grown in the Netherlands in the northern hemisphere usually take eight to twelve weeks to bloom once potted.

All of our Christmas Flowering Amaryllis are bareroot bulbs, meaning that you pot them up yourself in your own pots. If you intend to start an Amaryllis bulb in a special pot as a holiday gift for a friend, choose a Christmas Flowering variety. Amaryllis are tender bulbs. When delivering your Amaryllis gift, protect the tender buds from a cold shock by covering the potted plant with a loose plastic bag.

All of our Royal Dutch Amaryllis are bareroot bulbs for vibrant, large blooms after the holidays. Our attractive Art & Soul of Winter™ Amaryllis Gift Boxes include a 30/32 cm. Royal Dutch Amaryllis bulb, a green plastic pot, lid and saucer, potting medium and horticultural tips.

Inspect the Bulbs
Once you receive your order, open the exterior carton and interior boxes to give the bulbs air ventilation. Gently inspect the bulbs. The healthy outer skin of Amaryllis bulbs may appear papery, shriveled or rust-brown from having been washed and dried after harvest. It’s all good, all natural. Bulbs are sized when they are harvested. They shrink naturally as they dry, and plump up again once potted and rehydrated. Each variety has a varied amount of existing roots.

Keep in mind that top size Christmas Flowering bulbs are always smaller than top size Dutch Amaryllis bulbs. They have been hybridized to create well-proportioned plants and large flowers from smaller bulbs (better crop yields and lower shipping charges for the boat ride half way around the world from South Africa). Bulb circumference size is measured around the widest girth of the bulb (not from left to right).

Storing the Bulbs Prior to Potting
Christmas Flowering Amaryllis are best potted through February and Royal Dutch Amaryllis are best potted through March for optimal root growth and performance. Prior to potting, store the bulbs at about 50°F. Colder temperatures could damage bud development. Warmer temperatures could initiate sprouting and growth even before the bulbs are potted. The ideal humidity level to keep the roots healthy and pliable is around 65%.

Potting the Bulbs
Pot individual bulbs in well-draining, cozy pots in sterile, neutral pH potting soil with at least the top quarter or third of the bulb above the surface of the soil to avoid water collection in the sprout. A cozy pot means that there shouldn’t be much more than about an inch of space between the bulb and the pot. Amaryllis flower better when their roots are pot bound. Tamp down the soil lightly. Give the bulb one drink of room temperature water around the base of the bulb. Place the pot in direct sunlight at room temperature with good air circulation and normal to low humidity. Avoid placing the pot in an area with cold drafts. Do not water again until green growth appears. Over-watering could inhibit root and plant growth.

Once the Amaryllis starts to grow, water evenly and consistently around the base of the bulb at soil level (never mist). Make sure to discard any collected water in the pot saucer to avoid root or bulb rot. Brighter sunlight creates the best coloration and a more proportionate plant (read: shorter stem). Most varieties yield two, and sometimes even three, flowering stems in succession. Sword-like foliage may appear before, during or after flowering. You may need to install structural support for the huge flowering stems. We like to make pot-size teepees from twisted twigs and branches we’ve collected in the woods to secure the Amaryllis stem’s growth and help to keep it balanced in its pot. You may also top dress pots with stones to weigh down the pot to prevent it from tipping over when the plant is in full bloom. If they grow too tall, you may cut them: Amaryllis are among the best, most long-lasting of cut flowers. After the flowers have faded, cut them off to prevent unnecessary seed formation, but leave the stalk in place to die back naturally. It helps to feed the bulb.

If you want to display more than one Amaryllis together, we suggest sinking individual pots at the same rate of growth in a basket or cachepot. The pots can be covered with green Spanish moss or preserved reindeer moss. It looks beautiful, and the Amaryllis may still be grown in cozy pots that is best for them from a horticultural perspective.

Growing Amaryllis in Pebbles and Water
Truth be told, we’re kind of old-fashioned, and don’t prefer to grow Amaryllis in pebbles and water, but it can be done. If you intend to do this, please consider how tall Amaryllis stems stretch, and how heavy their flowers become. Choose a sturdy container that is more like a big glass hurricane candle cylinder than a vase (no pedestal or foot). Nothing too fragile or tippy. The general method is to place about four inches of river stones in the bottom of the cylinder and to place the Amaryllis bulb, roots down, on top of the stones. Then, carefully fill river stones in around the bulb and over the bulb, leaving the top quarter of the bulb uncovered. Very carefully add water, making sure that no water collects in the sprout, or nose, of the bulb. Only fill the cylinder with two or three inches of water because the water cannot touch the root base of the bulb or it will rot. You must keep the water level even and consistent and must never allow the roots to dry out. The water can become funky as old roots decompose. Amaryllis grown in water are not suitable for more than one season of growth and should be discarded after blooming.

Amaryllis Cut Flower Tips
Amaryllis are one of the best, most long-lasting cut flowers of all time. The best time to cut an Amaryllis stem is when all of the buds on that one stem have begun to color up. Cut Amaryllis vase life is longer if the ambient room temperature is around 60 for the better part of the day: stems can last a good ten days, close to two weeks!

Around the holidays, long stems of blooming Amaryllis are incredibly beautiful in large vases on the floor. Table top arrangements call for shorter stems. Short stalks are beautiful in glass vases filled with clear or colored glass marbles, fresh cranberries or small pine cones. Individual flowers can even be snipped for individual bud vases to adorn the center of a dining table. We love to grow Royal Dutch Amaryllis for winter parties, and for Valentine’s Day. If you’re growing pots of Amaryllis and one or two of them become too tall or leggy, don’t hesitate to cut the long stem and use it as a cut flower. But do keep the pot going for a second, and sometimes even a third stem!

Growing Amaryllis for Multiple Seasons
To hold Amaryllis over for subsequent years of bloom, cut off the flowers once they have died back but leave the stalk in place to die back and nourish the bulb. Place the pot in bright sunlight so that the foliage has a prolonged period of photosynthesis for optimal chlorophyll production. When nighttime temperatures are reliably above 60°F, Amaryllis pots may be brought outside and hardened off: this means to gradually introduce brighter outdoor sunlight to the potted Amaryllis. First, place the pot in the shade, then in filtered sunlight, and finally in a spot with at least six hours of sunlight. It’s best to sink the pot into the soil to protect the bulb and root system from temperature spiking. Fertilize the plant every four weeks with a diluted houseplant fertilizer. Water regularly through mid-July. Do not cut back the foliage.

Although most Amaryllis will flower on and off again without a dormant period (this is referred to as growing them as evergreens), one can control the bloom time by forcing it back into dormancy. In mid-July, store the potted Amaryllis plant in a dark, relatively dry spot like a basement. You may want to put the pot on its side so that it is not accidentally watered. The lack of water and darkness will cause the bulb to go back into a dormant state. The foliage will slowly die back with all of its nutrients seeping back into the bulb to nourish it for future growth. In late October, after about 12 weeks of rest, the pot may be brought out, the dead foliage can be removed and the soil can be refreshened. All you need to do to start the whole process over again, is to give the plant a drink of room temperature water. If you find that the foliage has not died back, it’s likely because the storage site was too humid. If this happens, the Amaryllis will likely not bloom again. Please note that this is not a guaranteed or foolproof process. Since Amaryllis bulbs perform best when pot bound, repotting Amaryllis bulbs as they grow larger is usually only necessary every three to four years. The best time to repot them is in October, when you are bringing them out of dormancy. If the Amaryllis pot has been outdoors, please examine the soil to make sure that it is clean, healthy and bug-free before bringing it indoors.

Growing Amaryllis Outdoors
If you live in horticultural zone 9 or warmer, you may grow Amaryllis bulbs outdoors in the garden as long as there is absolutely no chance of even a light frost. They require well-draining, neutral pH soil, at least six hours of bright filtered sunlight and good air circulation. In the late fall, plant the bulbs with the neck of the bulb at, or just a little higher, than the soil level, spaced 12″ to 16″ apart. Water lightly after planting. If it hasn’t rained, wait until green top growth appears to lightly water the bed. If the surface of the bed has dried out and rain is infrequent, lightly water. Top dress the Amaryllis plantings with a monthly application of a 10-10-10 fertilizer after foliage appears. Amaryllis bulbs should not be planted in areas with in-ground irrigation systems. From July through October, do not supplement rainfall with watering. Cut back and remove any yellow or dead foliage.

Trouble Shooting
If an Amaryllis bulb is slow to wake up out of dormancy, apply bottom heat by placing the pots on a seed growing mat, heating pad or food warmer, or place the pot over a radiator (never on a stove top). Double and Miniature varieties may pop out of dormancy more quickly than Single varieties.

Stunted plants, flowers growing on short stems (out of their necks) and poor flower formation are usually caused by excessive watering prior to the initiation of top growth, nutrient-poor soil, improper storage conditions, and by under or over watering during plant growth.

If you’ve had your Amaryllis plants outside and the foliage has become wilted, yellow or deformed, it’s possible that outdoor insects, like the narcissus bulb fly, found their way into the pot’s soil, and into the bulb. If this has happened, it’s best to destroy and remove that Amaryllis bulb from your collection.

If red spots appear on flower stalks and leaves and the plant appears to be deformed, it might be signs of a fungal disease called Red Blotch, Red Fire or Stagonospora curtissi. Dutch and American agricultural inspectors are incredibly fastidious in their examination of Amaryllis bulbs to make sure that they are disease-free prior to export. The use of sterile potting soil, good air ventilation, bright sunshine and only moderate, soil-level watering helps to reduce the chance of fungal disease. Plants brought outside during the summer and kept in shade, high humidity and/or over watered may be susceptible to fungal disease development. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed. Red Fire blotches are completely different than the superficial rust-brown mark or red streaks on Amaryllis bulbs that occur during the harvest and washing process. If an Amaryllis bulb gets nicked or bumped during the harvest process, the flesh may develop a shallow, external red mark that has nothing to do with Red fire fungal disease. Harvest marks or discoloration from washing and drying are natural and not harmful to the bulb or its performance.

Nothing brightens up a cold winter day like a blooming amaryllis bulb (Hippeastrum sp.)! Above the strappy foliage, the flower stalk can stretch over two feet high, topped with a stunning display of huge, trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of pink, red, white, and even orange – with some gorgeous striped varieties available as well.

If you live in planting zones 9 and warmer, you can grow amaryllis outdoors in full sun flower beds, where they will bloom naturally in the spring and summer. For the rest of us, amaryllis are grown in pots and forced to bloom, usually during the gray winter when we most need it most.

Amaryllis are quite easy to grow indoors, here’s how.

Choosing Amaryllis

You can buy amaryllis as a potted plant, as a bulb kit with pot and soil, or as individual bare bulbs. If you’re new to amaryllis or are buying it as a gift, look for pre-potted bulbs that already have a flower bud sprouting. The flower bud is easy to identify – it’s thick and pointed – whereas the leaves are thin and strappy. The bud sprouts first, so if the plant only has leaves, it isn’t going to bloom this year.

Amaryllis Growing Tips

  • Choosing Container: Amaryllis bulbs only need about an inch of space around the bulb. One bulb can usually be planted in a 6” diameter pot, or three bulbs together in a 10”- 12” pot. Be sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom.
  • Planting Bulb: Plant your amaryllis in light, well-draining potting mix, with the top 1/3 of the bulb sticking up out of the soil.
  • Water: Water the amaryllis whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. Avoid letting the bulb sit in wet soil, and avoid pouring water down into the crown of the bulb. As your bulb grows larger and has more roots, it may dry out more frequently.
  • Fertilizer: While the amaryllis is growing, feed it every couple of weeks with a balanced organic fertilizer, or add a slow-release fertilizer when planting.
  • Light: Place the amaryllis in a bright window. Turn the pot regularly, since the flower stalk will lean toward the light.
  • Bloom Care: Once your plant blooms, the flowers will last longer if you remove it from direct sunlight and put it in a slightly cooler spot (a good reason to put it on a table where you can enjoy it!). Gently stake the flower stalk if it’s top-heavy, but be careful not to pierce the bulb with the stake.

Year-Round Amaryllis Care

Some people throw away their amaryllis after it blooms, but you can keep it year-round. With a little care, your amaryllis can be encouraged to bloom again and again.

Follow these tips to continue caring for your amaryllis:

  • Remove Spent Flowers: After the amaryllis blooms fade, cut them off individually. Then, when the entire flower stalk starts to wilt, cut off the stalk just above where it sprouts from the bulb.
  • Encourage Foliage: Put your amaryllis outdoors for the summer, so that the foliage can grow and feed the bulb for next year’s blooms. Simply bury the pot up to its rim in mulch, and it’ll dress up your flower beds. Keep it regularly watered, and continue feeding every couple of weeks.
  • Cold Storage: In the early fall, the leaves will naturally turn yellow and die. At that point, gently dig up your amaryllis bulb, cut off the dead leaves, wipe the bulb clean, and store it for 6 weeks in a cold, dark spot (40°-50° F). In cool climates, an unheated shed or garage is perfect. Those in warmer climates can put the bulb in the fridge. Don’t expose the amaryllis bulb to freezing temperatures.
  • Container Storage: As an alternative, you can cut off the dead leaves and leave the amaryllis bulb in its pot for cold storage, then simply bring the pot back out and resume watering after 6 weeks. I haven’t had good luck with reblooming with this method, but it’s worth a try if you want a low-maintenance option.
  • Plant with 1/3 of bulb above soil.

  • Replanting Bulb: After at least 6 weeks of cold storage, amaryllis bulbs are ready to plant again. They will take 8-10 weeks to sprout and bloom, so you can time the planting to coincide with the holidays or a special event. If you have multiple bulbs, you can plant one every two weeks, all the way until February, for a parade of blossoms until summer.
  • Propagating: As your amaryllis bulb gets older, it may produce little babies, called bulblets, attached to the mother bulb. To propagate the bulblets, use a sharp knife to cut them off the mother bulb right before repotting, then plant them individually. The baby bulbs will take several years to flower, but they need to be kept on the same care schedule as the mother.
  • Bloom Failure: It can be tricky to get an amaryllis to rebloom. If yours doesn’t bloom this year, simply repeat the schedule this year, making sure to give it regular balanced fertilizer.

Further Information

I am no fan of plants in the house. Once the gardening season comes to a close, it is a relief not have to worry about keeping plants alive. Plants inside the house-what could possibly be more unnatural than that? Would I really subject a perfectly well meaning and decent plant to the dry heat and lack of sun that characterizes an interior space? Perhaps this is wrong, but I like the separation of my gardening life, and my personal life. OK, my gardening life is my personal life, but the thought of a winter getaway from the demands of the plants is attractive.

I have a very good friend whose house is loaded with all manner of tropical plants. Julia does a great job with them, and I marvel at how she is able to keep all of them looking great. She cannot bear to be without the garden for any longer than a moment; her house/conservatory is proof of that. I think if she had her choice, she would live in a conservatory situated in the middle of a giant property.

I have had friends bring me plants for the windowsill behind my desk. One Valentine’s day my landscape superintendent gave me a dozen auricula primroses-how I love them. I spent a whole winter doing watercolor paintings of them, such is my enchantment with them. It took me 3 months to kil them, but kill them I did. Stationed in the windowsill behind my desk, I could not remember to water them until they were in a state of utter dessication. After too many water crises, they finally gave up on me.

My friend and grower Marlene Uhlianuk, whose unusual plants and vegetables are a mainstay of my local market, gave me a pot containing the smallest rose in the world. She insisted it would be easy to take care of. On my window sill. It took a few months to prove her wrong, but prove her wrong I did. I still feel guilty about it.

Though the thought of trying to keep tropical plants alive, inside over a winter leaves me absolutely cold, I can be seduced. By amaryllis, that is. Bringing on amaryllis bulbs indoors late in the gardening year-a means by which even I can bring the garden indoors.

The bulbs are enormous. The bigger the bulb, the more stalks, and flowers. The blooms are just as enormous-startlingly so. There are miniature varieties, like the amaryllis “Evergreen” pictured above. Though it is a miniature, it’s effect is anything but. Amaryllis is a very small genus of flowering bulbs made up of just two species. Amaryllis belladonna is a species native to South Africa. The taxomony aside, these hefty bulbs can produce flowering stalks from December until April.

Potted up, a solid two-thirds of the bulb needs to be above the soil line. This makes sense-big juicy bulbs have no need of too much water. As for “planting” amaryllis in soil in clay pots, with 2/3’s of the bulb above ground-this leaves me cold. I don’t have a conservatory or greenhouse, just a house. My idea of a household is a space unsullied by dirt. Apart from what the corgis track in, that is. Forcing bulbs in water is an alternative that sounds good.

I like to grow amaryllis in water. Water gardens are perfect for people who cannot remember to water-both inside and out. A jar, a bulb, and a handful of stones is a simple and easy means of bringing the garden indoors. The jar, and the stones-entirely up to you. Rob bought canning jars for our amaryllis this year. The capped jars from Fisk are so beautiful. I am dubious of any idea about which might make my winter easier. But in truth, the process of bringing the amaryllis into bloom indoors-simple and satisfying.

The amaryllis Baby Doll is white, with the slightest hint of blush pink. If these pictures do not make you long to grow some on your windowsill, then nothing will. The reward for your effort is considerable. If you follow a few simple rules, amaryllis can be grown on, and kept for years.

Grumpy about the passing of the gardening season? Growing amaryllis is guaranteed to help with that. Set the bulb low in the jar. The rim of the jar will help hold the heavy flowering stalks aloft. Add water to just below the basal plate of the bulb-the water is for the roots to reach for. Soaking the bulb itself in water is asking for rot. Provide a warm place. Amaryllis bulbs are ready and waiting to grow and bloom, meaning that even a haphazrd effort will probably produce flowers. Not interested in hauling in jars and bags of stone? Rob has all of these amaryllis ready and waiting.

Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs: The No Water Flower for the Holidays | Myrtle Beach Sun News

Waxed amaryllis bulbs are an innovation from Holland. They have been trendy in Europe for a few years. Now they are increasingly showing up in US stores and catalogs.

Why coat amaryllis bulbs with wax? Because it renders them easy to grow—no water or soil; they could not be more trouble-free. All the nutrients necessary to grow the bloom are already packed in the big round bulb. Possibly the colored wax also makes the plant more beautiful. The coating on the bulb looks jewel-like.

Amaryllis species are tropical and subtropical. Consequently, the Dutch who produce 93% of the world’s bulbs grow their amaryllis in Brazil where conditions are perfect for the plants.

The wax process requires that bulbs are jump-started with heat treatments to trigger the bulb to sprout. That readies them to produce blooms in three to six weeks after they reach the consumer.

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The roots are first removed from the bulb. It is then covered in wax which prevents the bulb from growing new roots. A custom spiral metal stand is embedded in the wax to assure that the plant stands upright. As a result, the amaryllis doesn’t live beyond the bloom period.

Waxed bulbs are a one-time shot. Throw them out when they have finished blooming. There is nothing left to grow.

The Dutch innovators produce waxed bulbs in a variety of colors and ornamental finishes. They key wax colors to most holidays and all seasons. Finish options include metallic, glitter, marbled and more. Most of these selections are not yet available in the US, but be prepared for the possibilities when they arrive.

The wax treatment is applied to selected bulbs from only a few amaryllis varieties. Expect the waxed bulbs to produce blooms that are a bit shorter and stockier than their unaltered siblings.

If you want the traditional tall amaryllis flowers that last up to six weeks, you’ll need to grow an unwaxed bulb in soil. Choose firm dry bulbs. The larger the bulb the more flower stalks you will get.

Pre-potted bulbs require only water to start growing. (When potting the bulb yourself its shoulders should be one inch above the potting soil.) Water well initially and whenever the top two to three inches of soil are dry. Don’t over water—a wet bulb may rot. Place the pot where the temperature stays above 60F. Daytime temperature between 70F and 80F and bright light are ideal.

Rotate the pot often to prevent the bloom stalk from leaning toward the sun. If your amaryllis is coming to bloom too quickly, slow it down with a cooler nighttime temperature and reduced light. To prolong blooms move the plant away from direct sunlight when the buds show color.

You can also bring your amaryllis to bloom in water, but it leaves the bulb more depleted and less likely to bloom again. Allow only the roots to touch the water. Keep the water below the base of the bulb or the bulb will rot. Check the water level daily.

Blooming exhausts the bulb. When flowers are finished cut the stalk back one to three inches above the bulb. Do not remove the leaves; they make the food that nourishes the bulb. Keep it in a sunny window where leaves can gather light for photosynthesis. Water when the top inch of soil is dry and feed the bulb with a balanced water soluble fertilizer monthly. Plant your bulb outside after the last spring frost. Soil must be well-drained. Site your amaryllis in morning and midday sun (6 – 8 hours), not afternoon sun. It will bloom again during the following spring.

Amaryllis is hardy in Zones 8 – 10. Plants bloom naturally in spring or early summer. The bulbs we buy from stores and catalogs during the holiday season are forced for winter blooms.

Are waxed amaryllis bulbs tacky? Or are they akin to a bouquet of cut flowers—designed to be thrown out when blooms fade? Are they an innovative option for use in floral design? Perhaps they are the perfect gift for a brown thumb. You decide.

Reach Debbie Menchek, a Clemson Master Gardener, at [email protected]

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