The Amaryllis [am-uh-RIL-us] is considered one of the easiest bulbs to grow. It also has one of the most distinct appearances.
It is the only genus that belongs to the subtribe Amaryllidaceae. However, it does have some well known relatives including:
- The large Crinum Lily
- ‘Naked Lady” Amaryllis
- Amazon Lily (Eucharis grandiflora)
The Amaryllis lily plant is native to South Africa and has become a favorite for adding color indoors and to porches and sunrooms during the winter.
While it is easy to care for, you may want to review some of the basic plant care tips for the Amaryllis.
Amaryllis Plant Care
Amaryllis Bulbs Size and Growth
The Amaryllis bulb is known for its large size. Amaryllis bulbs produce one or two tall stems that sprout without leaves. The leaves arrive after the flowers bloom.
The stems can reach heights of two feet while the leaves may eventually reach one to one and a half feet.
Despite the thin, leafless stems, be prepared to have plenty of space for the plant when it blooms. In fact, you should also use a heavy pot preferably a clay pot or a heavy cachepot planter.
When Amaryllis flowers bloom, the plants can become top-heavy. If you want to keep the plant from getting knocked over easily, use a larger pot.
Whether you plant indoors or outdoors, the bulbs should be placed with the pointed end facing upward. The soil should be a mixture of regular potting soil and sand.
Amaryllis Flowers and Fragrance
Amaryllis typically bloom in the winter, when the plant is grown indoors it may reach up to six inches in diameter.
The flowers emerge at from the tops of the stems, with each stem producing several flowers. They come in a wide range of shades, from white to deep red.
The white amaryllis often has the strongest fragrance.
If planted in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, such as Florida, Amaryllis plants will grow outdoors in the landscape. Outdoor Amaryllis often blooms in the early spring.
When planting bulbs, the plant typically blooms in about six to eight weeks. You can plan a Christmas bloom by carefully choosing the right time to purchase and plant the bulbs.
If you want a Christmas bloom, you should plant the bulbs no later than the first week of November.
Light And Temperature For Amaryllis
The Amaryllis bulbs require plenty of sunlight and humidity. However, avoid extremes of both.
Find bright, indirect light indoors and full sun to partial shade outdoors.
NOTE: If you turn the pot occasionally, the stems are more likely to grow straight.
Amaryllis Watering and Feeding
Amaryllis plants require frequent watering. However, overwatering can easily lead to fungal growth.
Water regularly to keep the soil from completely drying out. You should also feed it each month, except during the fall.
Soil and Transplanting
The Amaryllis is a perennial that you can keep year after year. It should be repotted every three or four years.
When transplanting, use an equal mixture of nutrient-rich potting soil and sand to provide optimal drainage.
The only grooming needed for the amaryllis is cleaning up dried out foliage. When the flowers wilt and the leaves dry out, they can be removed from the plant.
Some people choose to trim the plants after they bloom. You can cut the top half inch of the stems, but do not remove live leaves. Keep the bulbs on a sunny windowsill and keep the soil moist until the spring.
How to Propagate Amaryllis
The simplest method for propagating the amaryllis is to remove the side bulblets.
Place the smaller bulbs in individual pots. Use a combination of nutrient-rich soil and sand, remembering to water them occasionally.
You can propagate the amaryllis plants from seed. However, the task is difficult and may not be worth the effort.
NOTE: It may take two to three years for the bulbs that you remove to bloom.
What Are the Main Pests or Disease Problems With Amaryllis?
The amaryllis doesn’t have any major issues to worry about. However, you should keep an eye out for spots on the leaves.
If the leaves develop spots and the petals dry out, a fungus may be attacking the plant. Use a fungicide to treat the problem and avoid overwatering.
Mealybugs may also pose a threat, which can be treated with Neem oil.
Suggested Amaryllis Uses – Indoors and Outdoors
Due to the long stems and large, bright flowers, the amaryllis looks best standing behind and above other plants. You can use it for added color behind a sea of green foliage.
It also looks great in a pot in any room of your house. Consider placing it in a tall pot to ensure that it gets enough sunlight.
Growing Amaryllis, Care In Summer
Amaryllis plants, the brilliantly colored, lily-shaped trumpets have drawn admiration wherever they have been grown.
It is surprising we don’t see these magnificent flowers as frequently as we use to decades ago.
It may be that some gardeners have not yet developed the “knack” required in caring for them.
Still, Amaryllis bulbs are being grown indoors in greater numbers than any other related bulb.
To an Amaryllis lover, this is as it should be, for not only does an Amaryllis bulb produce several superb flowers, but with the right care it will repeat this performance year after year.
It is not strange to hear of Amaryllis bulbs being grown in pots as summer flowering bulbs. Years ago growers recommended only pot culture.
Since there are many who fancy amaryllis but don’t have available garden space it is fortunate that this bulb grows in the limited root space of a 6” or 7” inch pot, provided it is well fed and watered.
Summer Garden Culture For Amaryllis Bulbs
Using “summer garden culture”, they are easily grown and give wonderful results when their requirements are met.
A sunny space in the garden is always chosen for these bulbs and the soil is generously enriched with leaf-mold, manure and bonemeal.
In the spring, when frost-free weather arrives and the soil has lost its severe chill, the Amaryllis bulbs are planted in the garden.
The entire bulb is well covered with soil to prevent summer sun scalding. Bulbs that have bloomed are carefully transferred from their pots into the garden.
Some of these bulbs will have made good root growth in the small pots, but most of them will have few roots at this stage so soon after flowering.
If rains are not frequent, additional moisture must be provided and several top dressings of fertilizer during the growing season encourages abundant leaf growth.
Good Leaf Growth Is Essential
Blooming size bulbs should make leaves about 30 inches long. Good leaf, growth is essential because as the leaves grow they store food in the bulb for future bud growth.
The scales that make up the bulbs are the thickened lower parts of the leaves.
The greatest number of leaves that can be grown during the summer will bring the maximum assurance of budding joy.
5 Leaves And A Flower Bud
A bulb that makes five large leaves should produce flower buds because one leaf in each set of four does not form a perfect scale but ordinarily sends forth a bud.
Thus a bulb that grows eight leaves, or more, often sends up two scapes. The best bulbs have at least four flowers on each scape.
Older bulbs may have twelve or more leaves but unless they have been well fed a third scape is quite rare.
Whether the flowers have short or deep trumpets they will be lovely enough if the color is clear and brilliant.
Lifting And Storing Amaryllis Bulbs
Healthy bulbs increase in size each growing season. However, the buds feed on stored food in the scales and hence after blooming the bulbs have often shrunk considerably in size.
The larger the blossom the more the bulb seems to shrink and this points out the importance of the summer feeding schedule in the garden.
Try to leave the bulbs in the garden as long as possible.
The bulbs appreciate and make good use of an additional month or more in the garden.
By the middle of September every bulb is still in lush growth and it always strains the heart strings to interrupt their luxurious summer semester so soon.
Storing Bulbs Of Amaryllis During Winter
Lift the bulbs before the first frost because the first may be severe. Place the bulbs in single layers in clean boxes (cardboard will work).
If the temperature is safe set them in an airy garage while drying out, but if there is frost at night move the boxes to a warmer location like a basement.
All foliage and roots are left intact while drying. When the leaves are crisp-dry remove them gently but leave the roots undisturbed at this stage.
These are the general hybrid amaryllis and require only a label in the garden. When having a few species and many seedlings the labeling and lifting becomes a more complicated task.
Mark the bulbs from various growers until results are well noted.
The bulbs are stored dry without any soil or moss. Small bulbs are stored at a cooler temperature but those of blooming size are kept at about 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
TIP: For a longer succession of bloom move some bulbs to a warmer location.
An excessively low-temperature retards or ruins buds and warmer temperatures speeds up budding.
Amaryllis Bulbs Need Rest
Experiment but try giving Amaryllis bulbs a four months rest. They need the time because they are busy forming buds during that apparently dormant time.
As soon as a bud is visible, pot the bulb, water and set the plant in a light window. A little later move to as much sun as possible to give size and deep color to the blossom.
Any bulbs that do not show buds remain in the box until they can go into the garden to gain size and vigor during another summer.
Use pots only large enough to comfortably hold the bulb and sufficient soil to hold the bulb and the tall scape firmly.
The neck and top half of each-bulb is set so it will be above the soil line in the pot. The fertility of the soil in the pot is not so important when the bulbs are garden grown in summer and well fed during that time.
After blooming the pots are set in a cooler room to check excessive growth but they are given as much light as possible and only moderate moisture.
They should be kept growing well because they stay in the pots during one-third of their yearly cycle – four months – until they can again go into the garden for their glorious summer outing.