Amaryllis For Years to Come

'Red Lion' Amaryllis is a common Christmas gift

‘Red Lion’ Amaryllis is a common Christmas gift

 

Red Lion, Apple Blossom, and Minerva- a great trip of Amaryllis from Longfield Gardens

‘Red Lion’, ‘Apple Blossom’, and ‘Minerva’- a great trio of Amaryllis from Longfield Gardens

amaryllis-as-cut-flower-longfield

Great used as a cut flower, Amaryllis ‘Splash’, from Longfield Gardens

Someone gave you an Amaryllis gift box for Christmas? Or you have an old one that you want to re-bloom? Christmas indoor plants give us a breath of a living, blooming plant that we are missing at this time of year and I always buy several Amaryllis bulbs for starting and try to entice my old ones to burst forth with a flower stalk.

Amaryllis 'Minerva' at Longwood Gardens

Amaryllis ‘Minerva’ at Longwood Gardens

These bulbs are native to warm climates, so they don’t require a cooling period to trigger blooms. Amaryllis and paper white narcissus both belong in this category. For forcing other types of bulbs that require a chilling period such as Hyacinths and Daffodils, go to Bringing Spring In.

An unusual Amaryllis bloom

An unusual Amaryllis bloom

Amaryllis Facts

Of all flowering bulbs, Amaryllis is one of the easiest to force into bloom. Packaged in a single bulb, a flower embryo is waiting –  ready to burst into bloom with a bit of encouragement. The Amaryllis, Hippeastrum, originated in South America’s tropical regions and comes in many beautiful varieties including reds, white, pink, salmon, and orange. There are also many striped and multicolored varieties, usually combining shades of pink or red with white. Doubles, miniatures, and some very exotic ones that look like butterflies are also available.  The large flowers and ease with which bloom, make Amaryllis extremely popular. The blooms brighten a gloomy winter day and are a snap to grow.

Loose Amaryllis bulbs blooming at the nursery

Loose Amaryllis bulbs blooming at a local nursery

Choosing the Best Bulb

Always pick out the largest plumpest bulb that you can find – the jumbo size. Bulbs are storage vessels and the more storage-think larger bulb!- more flowers. If you buy one at a big box store that is already planted in a pot, you usually get a plant with only 1 stem – a 26 to 30 cm bulb. You are paying a premium for the convenience of an already potted bulb, but with smaller and fewer flowers. Choosing larger single bulbs at a good nursery or ordering on-line will get you a better quality and a larger, older bulb. The larger bulbs, 34 cm + are a full year older than the smaller bulbs, so you are paying a bit more. I prefer paying extra to get a loose larger bulb with more flowers that last longer, than for a smaller potted up bulb.

A range of sizes of bulbs will give you various bloom sizes and numbers

A range of sizes of bulbs will give you various bloom sizes and numbers

A jumbo Amaryllis is about

A jumbo Amaryllis is 34 -36 cm per bulb

In addition, look for an emerging flower bud coming out of the bulb. Choosing one an existing flower bud  means that the bulb is ready to go and can bloom within 5-7 weeks.

26/28 cm – 1 stem (occasionally 2) with 3 to 4 flowers

28/30 cm – 2 stems with 3-4 flowers per stem

30/32 cm – 2-3 stems with 3-4 flowers per stem

32/34 cm – 2-3 stems with 4-5 flowers per stem

34/36 cm – 3 stems with 4-5 flowers per stem

Bud full of promise

Bud full of promise

Double-flowered ones are my favorite

Double-flowered ones are my favorite

Quick Planting Tips:

  • Planting Period:                  October  to April

  • Flowering Period:               Late December until the end of May

  • Flowering time:                    7-10 weeks

  • Larger bulbs:                        Produce more flowers

  • Always store:                        Un-planted bulbs in a cool place between 40-50 deg. 

  • Flower Production:             2 to 3 stems per bulb

  • More Impact:                       Try planting 2 or 3 bulbs per pot

    Pre-potted bulbs are usually smaller in size and less flower buds

    Pre-potted bulbs are usually smaller and less flower buds

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    Preparation for Planting

    To get a head start soak the bulbs for an hour in warm water to hydrate the roots

    To get a head start soak the Amaryllis bulbs for an hour in warm water to hydrate the roots

    Place the bulb into lukewarm water for a few hours to jump-start emergence. I received my bulbs from Longfield Gardens with a heat-pack giving off warmth so the bulbs wouldn’t freeze in transit.

    Ordering my Amaryllis bulbs from Longfield Gardens in January means that I receive a heat pack that keeps the bulbs from freezing

    Ordering my Amaryllis bulbs from Longfield Gardens in January means that I receive a heat pack that keeps the bulbs from freezing!

    If you cannot plant the bulbs immediately after receiving them, store them at a cool temperature between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature keeps them from blooming before you are ready.

    White Nymph Amaryllis from Longfield Gardens

    ‘White Nymph’ Amaryllis from Longfield Gardens

     Planting 101

    • Pick out a container that the bulb will fit into snugly, maybe an inch or two larger than the circumference of the bulb

    • A ceramic container is preferable to a plastic one because the weight of a flower, stalk, and leaves in full flush, will topple over the whole plant

    • Pot the bulb with good quality potting soil, leaving 1/3 of the top of the bulb or the ‘shoulders’ exposed; Water until you see moisture coming out of the bottom of the pot

    • If you want to accelerate the growth of the flower stalk and flower, place the pot on a heating pad

      Bottom heat will accelerate blooming

      Bottom heat will accelerate blooming

    • Keep in a sunny spot and keep moist and you will be surprised how fast the flower will appear

    • Once flowers appear, if you want the flowers to last longer, keep in a cooler spot

    •  Each year that you keep your Amaryllis alive, it will get larger and produce offsets (tiny bulbs that will get larger)

      Leave about 1/3 of the top of the bulb uncovered

      Leave about 1/3 of the top of the bulb uncovered

      Fill in with fresh moss for a finished look

      Fill in with fresh moss for a finished look

      Tying and staking a 'Red Lion' Amaryllis keeps the flower stalk from flopping

      Tying and staking a ‘Red Lion’ Amaryllis keeps the flower stalk from flopping

Amaryllis bulbs can also be planted in mixed containers to make the naked bulb more interesting

Amaryllis bulbs can also be planted in mixed containers to make the growing bulb more interesting  Amaryllis Containers

This container has a very old Amaryllis that keeps on getting larger and larger every year

This container has a very old Amaryllis that keeps on getting larger and larger every year

apple-blossom-longfield-2

Amaryllis used as a cut flower in a vase, from Longfield Gardens

 Waxed Bulbs

Waxed bulbs are a new wrinkle on Amaryllis. Throwaway bulbs is my term for them! Once it blooms, waxed bulbs should be discarded and can’t be saved to re-bloom another year because of the waxed covering. Popular in the Netherlands, I have had trouble with stunted growth from the ones that I started which is due to improper temperature storage of the bulb (before I bought it).

A waxed bulb seen at Lowes

A waxed bulb seen at Lowes

Stunted flowers are blooming right at the neck of a waxed bulb

Stunted flowers are blooming right at the neck of a waxed bulb

From my experience with waxed bulbs, I won’t be buying these again!

Re-Blooming & After Bloom Care

  • Cut-Back- After the Amaryllis has stopped flowering, Don’t throw it away (unless you have a waxed bulb)! Possible to force again, you need to follow a few simple directions.  Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the leaves start to sag and turn yellow, cut it back to the top of the bulb.

  • Leaf Growth and development Continue to water and fertilize as normal all summer, or at least 5-6 months, allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow.  I simply take all my pots outside and set them in an out-of-the-way place and never look at them all summer.  Let the rain water them.  When the leaves begin to yellow, which normally occurs in the early fall when the days get cooler, cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil.

  • Bulb Storage- Clean the bulb, removing and rinsing off all soil, and place it in a cool (40-50 deg. F), dark place such as the crisper of your refrigerator for at least 6 weeks. Caution: Do not store Amaryllis bulbs  in a refrigerator that contains apples  – this will sterilize the bulbs.  Store the bulbs for a minimum of 6 weeks. I usually place the bulbs in a dark cool corner of my basement as I don’t have room in my refrigerator. Alternatively, you can leave the bulbs in the pots in a cool dark space. After about 6 weeks, you can pot them up.

    Removal from Storage- Once your cooling period is up, replant your bulbs as if it was a newly purchased one. Be sure to fertilize the bulbs with dilute plant food as the original bulb has used up all the food stores. For more impact, I like to pot three bulbs to a container.

    Apple Blossom has been potted up with 3 bulbs to the container for bigger impact, from Longfield Gardens

    Potted up with 3 bulbs, Apple Blossom makes a good show, from Longfield Gardens

    You can safely start Amaryllis until April, so there is no rush for these to bloom!

    Evergreen Amaryllis from Longfield gardens

    Evergreen Amaryllis from Longfield Gardens

     

One thing you have to know is that Amaryllis normally bloom in spring, not in December. The ones that bloom for Christmas are grown in greenhouses to get them to behave that way. For more information on Amaryllis re-blooming tips, go to National Arboretum.

'Rosy Star' Amaryllis from Longfield Gardens

‘Rosy Star’ Amaryllis from Longfield Gardens

 

Furnished by Longfield Gardens, all bulbs were of the best quality and size.

About thegardendiaries

Claire Jones is a landscape and floral designer and owner of Claire Jones Landscapes, LLC. She designs and helps people to create their own personal outdoor oasis and loves to write about her gardening failures and successes.
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5 Responses to Amaryllis For Years to Come

  1. John Rohde says:

    Great article. Could you send me a catalog next fall? Thanks, John

    Like

  2. Linda T says:

    Love this information and will save it to help me grow these beautiful flowers. Thanks Claire.

    Like

  3. Sharon says:

    My friend gave me one Amaryllis bulb from her garden that gave me a gorgeous red and white double bloom and continues to have offsprings. Wonderfully hardy. Would love to grow some of the ones you’ve shown here, like the Evergreen. Wow! Thanks for the great photos and information.

    Like

  4. Janet Hatter, Silver Fancy Garden Club, Emmitsburg, MD says:

    Enjoy all your posts. Keep them coming.

    Like

  5. Anonymous says:

    La Paz, pictured in your article IS a smaller bulb. Just saying.

    Like

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