Hippeastrum–commonly called Amaryllis–is a tropical native. It produces blooms up to 8 inches (20cm) across in a wide range of colors, some varieties in double form. A baseball-size bulb produces flower stalks up to a foot tall surrounded by rich, green strap-like foliage.
Amaryllis can be forced to bloom; in bright indirect light and warm indoor temperatures; it will typically bloom in about 4 weeks. Plant the bulb in a container at least one inch larger in diameter than the bulb using a general potting soil, placing it pointed end up, with ½ of the tip exposed. Once blooms emerge, remove the plant to a low-light area. Keep the plant cool when it is in bloom so the flowers last longer.
Get to Know Amaryllis
- Plant type: Subtropical perennial bulb
- Growing Zones and range: Zones 7-10 outdoors
- Hardiness: Tender; warm conditions: 70°F (21°C) days and 60°F (16°C) nights
- Height and width: 1 to 3 feet (30-76cm) tall and nearly as wide
- Foliage: Slightly arching, strappy leaves emerge from baseball size bulb; leaves may appear with or after the flowers.
- Flowers: Spectacular large 6 to 12-inch (15-30cm) trumpet-like flowers in white, pink, salmon, or red; blooms from atop a hollow stalk; some blooms are patterned or striped. Up to four blooms appear on each 18-inch stem.
- Bloom time: Mid-winter or spring for 4 weeks
- Uses: Houseplant
- Common name: Amaryllis
- Botanical name: Hippeastrum spp.
- Family: Amaryllidaceae
- Origin: Central and South America
Where to Plant Amaryllis
- Plant or place the bulb where there is medium-light when first planted; increase to half-day sun when the flower stalk is 6 inches (15cm) tall
- Set the bulb in an all-purpose potting mix.
- Plant bulbs outdoors in well-prepared soil; add sand and compost to the soil to ensure it is well drained.
When to Plant Amaryllis
- Plant dormant bulbs between mid-autumn and late spring for flowering in mid-winter through spring.
- Seeds can be started indoors, however, it takes five to eight years for them to bloom.
- Set bulbs outdoors in Zone 9 to 11 in winter. Plant bulbs in early spring in Zone 8. From Zone 7 north, plant bulbs indoors in a sunny area at 60° to 70°F (15.6°-21°C); indoor started bulbs can be set directly in the garden after the danger of frost has passed..
- Plant bulbs with the top third of the bulb above the soil line.
How to Bring Amaryllis to Bloom
- Plant one bulb per 6-inch (15cm) pot with a third of the bulb showing above the pot’s rim.
- Place the pot in a 70°F/21°C room in direct to bright light
- Water sparingly at first.
- After leaves and bud develop or if you have a bulb that is beginning to send out foliage, water more frequently.
- Direct sunlight and warm temperatures encourage the best growth.
- Amaryllis generally blooms 6 to 8 weeks after planting; the flowers last about 2 weeks.
- Once the flower starts to bloom, keep it in indirect bright light to prolong blooming.
- Cut the stem close to the bulb after the flower fades
- In mid to late summer, stop watering and allow the leaves to die back.
- The autumn after blooming, place the bulb in a cool, dark place for 8 to 12 weeks to simulate dormancy; afterward bring the bulb back to room temperature, begin watering, and its flowering cycle will begin again.
How to Water and Feed Amaryllis
- Moisten the soil thoroughly at planting time, then wait until growth starts before watering again. Keep the soil evenly moist while the plant is actively growing.
- Fertilize amaryllis at planting time; feed plants with a slow release all-purpose fertilizer.
- Feed amaryllis monthly white the plant is growing; stop fertilizing and watering when the leaves turn yellow.
- Allow the bulb to rest for a month after flowering, then repot or replace the top inch of potting soil with fresh mix and 1 teaspoon of bonemeal. Water thoroughly and place the bulb in a warm spot to promote new growth.
- If your amaryllis produces lots of leaves but no flowers, its pot may be too large.
- Mulch plants growing outdoors in dry weather with 2 inches (5cm) of chopped leaves or straw. Pull back the mulch after the danger of frost is past in spring.
- Outdoor -grown bulbs can be dried and stored at the end of summer. Keep them in paper bags in a cool, dry place.
- Mealybugs, scale, and spider mites can attack amaryllis; botrytis blight, leaf spot, and virus are common diseases.
Growing Amaryllis as a Houseplant
- Grow Amaryllis in a warm room in direct light and high humidity.
- Plant bulbs half-extending above a rich, well-drained, soulless medium.
- Plant one bulb per pot, with 1 inch between the pot rim and the bulb.
- Water the plant after potting, and do not water it again until growth starts.
- Keep the medium evenly moist during growth and flowering.
- Fertilize Amaryllis every two weeks from the tie growth starts until midsummer when the foliage will turn yellow and die.
- Keep plants dry and store them in a cool, dark area at 50°F (10°C) until four to six weeks before flowers are desired. Then the plant should be watered once again and the growth process will repeat.
- Remove offsets from the parent bulb and replant.
- Divide established plants if they are overcrowded; dig up and separate bulbs during their dormant period in late summer or fall. Replant bulbs immediately or at the beginning of the growing season.
Amaryllis Species and Cultivars
- Hippeastrum hybrids, known as giant amaryllis can be grown indoors or outdoors in Zones 8 to 11. The ‘Ludwig’ cultivars from Holland have 8-inch (20cm) flowers in clusters of 4. Other cultivars include ‘Picotee Petticoat’ and ‘Apricot Sensation.’
- H. papilio, Butterfly amaryllis, is a South American species with greenish flowers striped with burgundy markings.