Amaryllis

Amaryllis 'Susan'

When the weather outside is frightful- oh the bulbs are so delightful.

Red Lion

I adore Amaryllis.  They are one of the few winter flowers that are actually supposed to bloom during the winter and I always love seeing them poke their silly flower stalks out from those homely bulbs.  I have about 20 amaryllis, and I think I have finally figured out the secret to success with them- it only took about 10 years.

First- when you plant amaryllis in the fall, do so in a clay or plastic pot that is just slightly larger than the bulb.  Do not cover the bulb with too much soil.  Plant it, water it once and then put it in the basement until you see green leaves or the flower stalk poking up (or January 1, whichever comes first.)

Once the first of the year arrives, I bring all of those that have not yet blossomed upstairs to the hot sunny kitchen windowsill for regular water and sunshine. They are usually done blooming by Easter.

The key for growing amaryllis without fungus gnats is not to grow them in cachepots- only stand-alone containers with excellent drainage.  I also let them dry out between waterings.  If grown in bright sunlight, they won’t get very leggy, which is crucial if you want to display them in their containers.

I prefer to cut them and put them in a vase- they are less likely to flop, and for reasons I’m not very clear on, they will last up to two weeks in a vase if kept out of direct sun.  This is vastly longer than if they are left on the stalk (about 1 week max. for that).

After flowering, you could throw them away, but I don’t know why you’d want to.  I keep watering mine and then put them on the bottom shelf of my outdoor “greenhouse” in spring and summer.  In August, I turn all of the pots on their sides so they dry out a bit, and then bring them inside all over again (make sure you check the bulbs for bugs and slugs!)

Brought up this way, you can enjoy your amaryllis for years.

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8 Responses to Amaryllis

  1. kateandgracie says:

    This sounds too easy. I want to try it! I have a couple of questions, though. About when in fall do you put them in the basement? And while they are in the basement, do you water them or do anything with them?

  2. gwendolyngarden says:

    Kateandgracie: I put them in the basement when it is too cold outside (before the end of September). I water them for the last time outside and then put them in the basement and leave them there to rest (which means no water or light). They are like bears- they hibernate. Then when they decide to wake up (by sticking up leaves) or January 1st comes, I water them and bring them into the sunshine. They are the easiest bulbs on earth. The hardest part is summering them, but that isn’t too hard either.

  3. gwendolyngarden says:

    I should note that if you are buying them new, you don’t have to put them in the basement because they’ve already rested. If you buy them new, they are ready to wake up. When you buy them, make sure that there is no red on the bulb (it kind of looks like dots or red paint). The red is amaryllis rust and will rot enormous holes in the stalks and the bulb. I have noticed that MANY store bought bulbs have amaryllis rust, so I am reluctant to purchase any bulb that is in a box where I can’t look at it.

  4. kateandgracie says:

    Thank you for all of your tips! I think I may try this.

  5. Marianne Meyer says:

    I have amaryllis out in my garden, where they stay all year long. In the winter they get very leafy so leafy that the leaves fall over and begin to yellow which i cut off. I water about once a week, but wonder if I am over watering them. I do not dig up any more for the winter becouse it does not get overly cold in san diego, califonia. Plus last time i dug up for storage they did not bloom that next year when replanted. So now I leave them in the ground. I also did not know you could seperate these bulbs, can this be done and when. The soil here is very clay like, I did replace some of this soil with good garden soil last year. It is now february should I cut all green leaves from the leggy plants to produce a more healthy leaf growth. My plants flower in the summer and always have. Please any info you can give me would be helpful. Thanks Marianne

  6. Susan Wachowiak says:

    Gwendolyn,
    I received an amaryllis bulb along with a beautiful hourglass shaped glass vase. I followed the directions an had beautiful flowers. However, their time is up and I would like to save the bulb but am not sure how to do it. The roots in vase are very long and thick and I am not sure if I should plant it in the ground or just take it out of the water and let it dry out until next time. I live in a mild climate and usually leave my bulbs in the ground and they reappear in the spring. Any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Susan

  7. gwendolyngarden says:

    Susan, “mild climate” isn’t enough for me to tell you if you can plant it outside… If you are in the deep south or along the southern coast, you can give it a try- I’ve seen great amaryllis planted outside in Charleston, and I’m sure you can plant them out here in California. For folks like Kate and I, in Wisconsin, DO NOT PLANT THEM OUTSIDE. They will turn to mush by Thanksgiving.

    Although I am currently standing in California, I can’t give any advice about planting them outside- other than usual bulb-planting advice: bone meal, blood meal, let them have a dormant period once the leaves have died back (which is easier if they are in the ground.)

  8. Susan Wachowiak says:

    Gwendolyn,
    I live in San Diego, California’s mild climate. My chief concern is what to do with the bulbs I have hydroponically grown in my beautiful glass vase. They have a thick robust root system. Now that the flowers have disappeared, I am not sure if I should plant them or should I just take them out of the water and let them dry out. AND do I do anything with the roots?
    Thanks,
    Susan

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