The Ultimate Amaryllis Care Guide: How to Grow and Maintain

HomeHow ToCare GuideThe Ultimate Amaryllis Care Guide: How to Grow and Maintain

Author:

Published:

Amaryllis are a small genus of flowering bulbs, known for their large, showy flowers. These plants are often confused with the genus Hippeastrum, which are commonly sold in the winter months for their ability to bloom indoors and are native to tropical parts of South America.

The true Amaryllis, such as Amaryllis belladonna, are also referred to as belladonna lily, Jersey lily, naked lady, or March lily due to their flowering time around March in South Africa. They have strap-shaped, green leaves and produce stout stems that bear clusters of funnel-shaped flowers without a tube, typically white with crimson veins.

In the Victorian language of flowers, amaryllis symbolizes love, beauty, and determination, and can also represent hope and achievement.

What are Amaryllis?

  • Botanical Name: Hippeastrum
  • Plant Type: Bulbous perennial
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Height: 18 to 24 inches
  • Foliage: Strap-shaped, green leaves
  • Bloom Time: Late December through June
  • Climate: Tropical and subtropical
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Requirements: Well-draining, fertile soil
  • Hardiness Zones: 9-11
  • Flowering: Large, showy blooms
  • Seasonal Features: Winter blooming
  • Special Features: Can be forced to bloom indoors
  • Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs if ingested

Where to Grow Amaryllis?

Amaryllis thrives in a warm, bright spot indoors. It can also be grown outdoors in warmer climates.

How to Plant Amaryllis Indoors?

  • Choose the Right Pot: Select a pot that is 6-8 inches in diameter. Ensure it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  • Prepare the Bulb: If the bulb has dried roots, trim them off. Soak the base of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours to encourage root growth.
  • Fill the Pot with Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix. Fill the pot with soil, leaving enough space so the top one-third of the bulb will be above the soil surface.
  • Plant the Bulb: Place the bulb in the pot, pointed side up. Add soil around the bulb, pressing it gently to secure the bulb. Ensure the top one-third of the bulb remains exposed above the soil.
  • Initial Watering: Water the soil thoroughly after planting, but make sure the water drains well. The bulb should not sit in water.
  • Location and Light: When grown indoors, amaryllis benefits from direct morning sun and bright indirect light in the afternoon to avoid the harsh midday sun. Place the pot in a bright, sunny location and rotate the pot regularly for even growth., such as a south-facing window.

How to Plant Amaryllis Outdoors?

  • Collect and save bulbs: In regions prone to frost, lift the bulbs before the first frost and store them in a cool, dry place. Replant them in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Choose the Right Location: Select a spot in your garden that receives full to partial sunlight. Amaryllis thrives in well-draining soil and needs at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
  • Prepare the Soil: Ensure the soil is well-draining. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, amend it with compost or organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
  • Planting Time: The best time to plant amaryllis bulbs outdoors is in the fall or early spring, depending on your climate. In warmer climates (zones 8-11), you can plant in the fall. In cooler climates, wait until after the last frost in spring.
  • Dig the Holes: Use a garden spade or trowel to dig holes about 8-12 inches apart. The holes should be deep enough to accommodate the bulb, leaving the top third of the bulb above the soil line (about 5-6 inches deep).
  • Plant the Bulbs: Dig a hole deep enough to place the bulbs with the pointed ends up in the holes. Fill the holes with soil, gently pressing it around the bulbs to eliminate air pockets. Ensure the top third of each bulb remains above the soil surface. Space bulbs about 12 inches apart to allow for growth.
  • Watering: Water the bulbs thoroughly after planting to help settle the soil. Keep the soil slightly moist but not waterlogged. Once established, amaryllis is somewhat drought-tolerant.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the bulbs to help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weeds. Leave some space around the bulb to prevent rot.

How to Care for Amaryllis?

Water

Once growth begins, water the soil thoroughly, allowing the top inch to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can cause the bulb to rot, so striking a balance is crucial. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom. During the dormant period, watering is reduced significantly. Only water is enough to keep the soil from completely drying out.

Sunlight

  • Indirect Light: Amaryllis prefers at least 4 hours of good indirect light per day. Too much strong direct sunlight can lead to leaf burn.
  • Direct Sunlight: If the plant is in an area that receives strong direct sunlight, it can manage with as little as 4 hours of direct sun per day1. However, it’s important to protect the plant from prolonged exposure to intense sunlight to prevent damage.
  • Partial Shade: For outdoor planting, a location that provides partial shade is ideal, especially in regions with intense sunlight.

Fertilizer

Use a balanced fertilizer, water-soluble fertilizer with equal parts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 formula. Alternatively, you can use a fertilizer formulated specifically for flowering bulbs, which often has slightly higher phosphorus to promote blooming.

Start fertilizing when new growth appears. This is typically in the early spring if planted outdoors, or a few weeks after planting the bulb indoors start fertilizing.

Fertilize every 2-4 weeks during the growing season. Consistent feeding supports robust growth and flowering. Continue to fertilize after the flowers fade to help the bulb store energy for the next blooming cycle. This is important until the leaves start to yellow and the plant begins to enter dormancy.

Soil

Amaryllis plants thrive in well-draining soil that retains moisture but doesn’t become waterlogged. Amaryllis bulbs are susceptible to rot if left in soggy soil. A mix that drains well will help prevent this. Amaryllis plants benefit from a soil mix that provides essential nutrients for their growth and flowering. The soil should be loose enough to allow air to reach the roots.

A good potting mix for Amaryllis can be made by combining the following components.1 part peat moss or coco coir helps retain moisture and provides a good base for the mix. 1 part perlite or coarse sand enhances drainage and prevents the soil from becoming compacted. 1 part compost or well-rotted manure adds nutrients to the soil, promoting healthy growth and flowering.

Prune

  • After Flowering: Once the Amaryllis flowers begin to fade, cut back the flower stalks near the base. Leave the leaves intact as they are essential for photosynthesis, which helps the bulb store energy for the next blooming cycle.
  • Yellowing Stalks: When the flower stalks turn yellow and wither, it’s time to prune them. Use clean, sharp scissors or secateurs and cut near the base of the stalk, as close to the bulb as possible without causing damage.
  • After the flowering period: Keep the foliage on your Amaryllis plant after the flowering period is over to harness the energy of the sun. Place it in a bright spot indoors until after the last frost date, then move it outdoors to a sheltered and sunny spot.
  • Dormancy Preparation: Towards the end of summer or early autumn, stop watering to encourage the plant to enter a period of dormancy. Allow the foliage to die back naturally.

Temperature & Humidity

During the growth period, maintaining these conditions will help your Amaryllis produce vibrant flowers. After the plant blooms, cooler temperatures around 65°F (about 18°C) can help prolong the life of the flowers. If you’re storing Amaryllis bulbs, a cool, dark location with a consistent temperature of 50-55°F (around 10-13°C) and humidity levels of 50-60% is ideal for encouraging dormancy and subsequent reblooming.

Container

Suppose pants for a single Amaryllis bulb, a 6-inch pot is typically sufficient. Planting a group of three bulbs, a 10- to 12-inch pot is recommended. Always cover the drainage hole with a piece of mesh screen to prevent soil from escaping while allowing water to drain.

  • Size: Select a pot that is only slightly larger than the bulb. Ideally, there should be about 1 inch of space between the sides of the bulb and the pot. This snug fit helps the bulb remain stable and promotes blooming.
  • Material: Ceramic pots are commonly used for Amaryllis because they are durable and help maintain soil moisture. However, any pot with good drainage will work.
  • Drainage: Ensure the container has adequate drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the bottom, which could lead to root rot.
  • Depth: Amaryllis bulbs prefer shallower containers, so choose a pot that isn’t too deep. This helps prevent excess soil at the base of the bulb, which can retain too much moisture.

Types of Amaryllis

Each type of Amaryllis offers a different aesthetic, and many enthusiasts enjoy collecting various kinds to create a diverse and vibrant display.

Large Flowering Amaryllis Varieties

  • Clown: White petals with bright red stripes.
  • Picotee: White flowers with a slender band of red on the edges.
  • Ruby Star: Star-shaped blooms with burgundy petals and white and lime green throats.
  • Desire: Sunset orange blooms.
  • Apple Blossom: White petals with soft pink blushes and lime green throats.

Double Flowering Varieties of Amaryllis

  • Red Peacock: Deep red blooms with narrow white stripes.
  • Dancing Queen: White petals with red candy stripes.
  • Snow Drift: Billowy, pure white flowers.
  • Nymph: Snowy white with subtle streaks of salmon.

Exotic Amaryllis Varieties

  • Chico: Slender, spidery petals of creamy ivory with reddish-purple and pale green markings.
  • Santiago: Trumpet-shaped blooms with ruby red stripes and lime green throats.

How to Propagate Amaryllis?

Propagating Amaryllis can be done through several methods, including division of bulbs, offsets, and seeds. Propagation of Amaryllis through offsets or division of bulbs is generally quicker and more reliable than growing from seeds, which can take several years to produce flowering-sized bulbs.

Division of Bulbs

  • Wait for Dormancy: Amaryllis bulbs can be divided when they are dormant, usually after they have finished flowering and the leaves have yellowed and died back.
  • Lift the Bulb: Carefully remove the bulb from the soil, being cautious not to damage it or the roots.
  • Separate Offsets: Bulbs often produce offsets, or smaller bulbs, around the main bulb. These can be gently separated from the parent bulb.
  • Trim and Treat: Trim any damaged or rotten parts and dust the cut surfaces with powdered fungicide to prevent infections.
  • Replant: Plant the separated bulbs or offsets in fresh potting soil in individual pots, making sure to position them with the pointed end upwards and leaving the top third of the bulb above the soil line.
  • Water and Care: Water the newly planted bulbs thoroughly and place them in a bright, warm location. Keep the soil lightly moist but not waterlogged, and avoid direct sunlight until new growth appears.

Offsets

  • Identify Offsets: Some Amaryllis bulbs produce offsets naturally. These are small bulbs that develop alongside the main bulb.
  • Separate Offsets: When the offsets are large enough to handle (usually after a year or two), carefully detach them from the parent bulb.
  • Treat and Plant: Treat the cut surfaces with powdered fungicide, then plant the offsets in pots filled with fresh potting soil. Follow the same planting instructions as for divided bulbs.

Seeds

  • Collect Seeds: After the Amaryllis flowers fade, allow the seed pods to mature and dry on the plant. Once the pods split open, collect the seeds.
  • Prepare Planting Medium: Fill small pots with a well-draining potting mix.
  • Plant Seeds: Sow the seeds on the surface of the potting mix and gently press them down. Do not cover the seeds as they require light to germinate.
  • Provide Light and Moisture: Place the pots in a warm, bright location, and keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Germination and Growth: Seeds will typically germinate within a few weeks to a couple of months. Once seedlings have grown large enough, they can be transplanted into individual pots.

How to Get Amaryllis to Bloom?

  • After-Bloom Care: Once the flowers fade, cut off the flower stalks to within 2 inches of the bulb.
  • Summer Care: Move the plant outside during summer, water it regularly, and fertilize it every two weeks.
  • Autumn Care: Before the first frost, bring the plant indoors, cut off any dead leaves, and store the bulb in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks.
  • Forcing a New Bloom: After the rest period, repot the bulb in fresh soil, water it, and place it in a warm, bright location to encourage new growth.

Amaryllis Pests and Diseases

If you suspect your Amaryllis is sick, identify the disease and follow the appropriate treatment plan. Remove infected parts immediately to prevent spreading the disease.

Pests

Aphids and Spider Mites: These pests can be managed by isolating the affected plants and using a strong stream of water to dislodge them. For minor infestations, insecticidal soap or neem oil can be effective. Severe cases may require stronger insecticides.

Diseases

  • Amaryllis Red Blotch: This fungal disease causes reddish-brown spots on the leaves, which can grow larger and turn black. Remove infected leaves and avoid overhead watering. Apply a fungicide to the healthy leaves and soil.
  • Amaryllis Leaf Scorch: A bacterial disease that results in brown, scorched-looking patches on the leaves. Infected leaves should be removed and a copper-based fungicide applied.
  • Amaryllis Mosaic Virus: This viral disease leads to mottled or streaked yellowing on the leaves and can distort flowers. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and infected plants should be removed and destroyed to prevent spreading.
  • Bulb Rot: A fungal disease that causes soft, mushy spots on the bulb, often with a foul odor. Remove the infected bulb and let the soil dry out before replanting with a new bulb. Water sparingly until new growth appears.

FAQs

Where does Amaryllis come from?

Amaryllis bulbs originate from South America, specifically countries like Brazil and Peru, as well as from South Africa. These regions provide the ideal conditions for these flowers to thrive.

What is the difference between Amaryllis and Belladonna Lily?

There are two main types of Amaryllis: the true Amaryllis (Hippeastrum species) and the Belladonna Lily (Amaryllis belladonna). The true Amaryllis is often grown indoors for its large, showy flowers, while the Belladonna Lily is a more robust plant that produces pink, trumpet-shaped flowers outdoors.

How often should I water my Amaryllis?

Water your Amaryllis when the top inch of soil feels dry. It’s important to give it a good drink but ensure that the bulb does not sit in water.

Why is my amaryllis not blooming?

Amaryllis may fail to bloom for several reasons, including insufficient light, incorrect watering, or inadequate dormancy period. Ensure the plant receives plenty of sunlight, water it properly (not too much or too little), and allow it to go through a dormant period in late summer to stimulate flowering in the following season.

Is Amaryllis toxic to cats and dogs?

Yes, Amaryllis is toxic to both cats and dogs. If ingested, it can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, and tremors.

Let us help you

Our most reliable information, advice, tips & tricks for you and your garden

You agree to our privacy policy and to receive emails from Flower Know How which you can unsubscribe from at any time.

Hello nature

Bring your garden inside your home!

Read More

You Might Also Like

Other Articles

More From Flower Know How