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Learning how to grow amaryllis is easy!
Amaryllis is a flowering tropical plant that grows from a bulb.
They have become synonymous with the Christmas season because when grown as a houseplant, they bloom in November and December.
Their large trumpet flowers make them a gorgeous addition to a home’s Christmas décor.
Because they are so easy to grow, they make a great hostess gift or present for your favorite gardener.
Learn how to grow amaryllis by following these easy steps and you can grow plenty for your own decorating and gift-giving!
In northern climates, amaryllis plants are strictly a houseplant in the winter months but can be placed outside during the summer months.
Southern U.S. zones 9-11 can grow them outside year-round.
However, they will bloom in spring.
In order to grow amaryllis to bloom for Christmas, follow the growing schedule outlined below.
How to Select an Amaryllis Bulb
Amaryllis bulbs are sold in the fall.
At this time they are dormant, meaning they don’t have any leaves or active growth.
Look for bulbs that are clean and dry with lots of roots coming out of the base.
If ordering online, purchase from a reputable bulb supplier that has favorable reviews.
It is best to buy bulbs that are a minimum of 24 cm.
These will have 1-2 flower stalks with several blooms on each.
Bulbs that are larger (34 cm) will produce 2-4 flower stalks with several blooms on each stalk.
The larger the bulb size, the more flower stalks, and the more blooms.
Amaryllis bulbs are available in many colors- white, pink, peach, red, and bi-colors.
The flowers can be single (a single set of petals) or double (several sets of petals to create a ruffled or fuller appearance).
There are many varieties to select from which can make them addicting!
In recent years, amaryllis bulbs have been made available that are coated in decorative wax.
These are “one-time-use” bulbs.
The idea is that sealing the bulb with wax prevents moisture loss and the bulb will be able to bloom one time without any additional water or soil.
They can sit on a desk or table as is and will bloom. It’s kinda cool.
These are sold at a premium price for consumers that like plants but perhaps don’t have a green thumb or simply like the novelty of it.
Note that a waxed amaryllis bulb can be planted after it blooms (remove the wax first), but it’s highly likely that it won’t be a viable plant.
Selecting A Container
Select a container that will fit the size and number of bulbs you are planting.
Amaryllis flower stalks can grow to 12-24” high, so a deeper pot will help provide stability to the plant.
I recommend a clay or ceramic pot to also provide weight. Be creative too.
There are so many beautiful containers available to add to your home’s décor.
It is always best to use a container with drain holes so that excess water doesn’t sit in the soil.
Amaryllis bulbs do not like to be overwatered or sit in wet soil.
This will lead to rot and is the quickest way to have problems with an amaryllis.
How to Plant An Amaryllis to Bloom for Christmas
It generally takes 4-6 weeks for blooms to emerge, so in order to have plants blooming during the holiday season, plant the bulbs in late October and early November.
To have plants blooming at different times throughout the Christmas season, plant a few bulbs each week in late October through early November.
This is a better approach than planting a large number of bulbs all at once.
When planting amaryllis in a container, use a soil mix that is designed for indoor containers.
Plant the bulbs pointed side up, to a depth that the neck of the bulb is just at the soil surface.
The bulb does not need to be buried deeply in the pot.
Actually, it doesn’t harm it to be slightly exposed above the soil surface.
Decorating & Finishing
After planting, water so that the soil is moistened.
I like to add a bit of green sheet moss to cover the soil.
This creates a finished look and makes the plant look like it came from a florist or high-end greenhouse.
Feel free to add a bow or other decoration to make it festive and tie in with your home decor.
Place the pot in an area as you would other houseplants.
Amaryllis like bright light so place it near a window or in a room that has a lot of artificial light.
Maintaining an Amaryllis
The best way to determine if it needs water is to place your finger about an inch in the soil.
If it is dry, add water.
As noted earlier, amaryllis bulbs will rot if they are too wet, so err on the side of caution when watering.
On occasion, flower stalks grow tall and require staking.
Floral stakes are available to make this easy, but a simple twig and a piece of twine will do the trick.
As the flowers fade, simply snip them off at the base with scissors or pruners.
This will prevent seeds from forming and force the plant to put its energy back into the bulb for next year’s bulb.
After all of the flowers have bloomed, the entire stalk can be removed at the base of the plant.
What to Do With An Amaryllis When It’s Done Flowering
At this point, some gardeners find the amaryllis disposable and decide not to keep it in their houseplant collection.
Others enjoy keeping it for the tropical foliage throughout the spring and summer.
Continue to water it as needed and fertilize it with an all-purpose plant food 1-2 times per month.
The amaryllis does need a rest period for 6-8 weeks in late summer to prepare it for another blooming cycle.
This process begins in late August.
Begin by removing any brown or yellow leaves and watering it.
The important step is to place it in a cool (45-55 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal) dark location (like a basement or root cellar) until late October.
The plant will dry out and the leaves will die, but that is exactly what is supposed to happen.
Don’t be tempted to water the plant during this time, it will disrupt the rest cycle and it won’t flower!
Some gardeners prefer to remove the bulb from the pot and allow it to go dormant without any soil on the roots.
This method will work as well.
It is simply a matter of preference.
However, the bulb will need to be re-potted again in late October, so keeping it in the pot eliminates a step.
Once you learn how to grow amaryllis, you will be amazed at how easy it is to create beautiful plants for your Christmas decorations as well as gifts for friends and family.
I hope you will explore all the different varieties and enjoy the beauty they can bring to your home this Christmas and for years to come.