Table of Contents
Amaryllis is a flowering bulb that is seen everywhere at Christmastime. The bulbs are native to Africa and accustomed to warm climates. In the United States, they can be hardy and planted outdoors in zones 8 to 10. In cooler climates, like my zone 5 in Iowa, they’re planted in containers and kept indoors to enjoy their tall, showy bloom.
Unlike other bulbs, an amaryllis bulb is planted slightly differently to ensure they have the best growth conditions.
Things to remember before planting amaryllis bulbs
- Amaryllis can be planted alone as a single bulb or grouped together for a larger impact.
- The containers need to have drainage holes. If there are no drainage holes, the long roots of the amaryllis could sit in water and rot.
- Choose a container that is close to the size of the bulb and approximately one inch larger.
- Always check the bulbs and inspect them to make sure there are no soft spots or rotten areas. The bulb should be firm with some roots intact on the bottom.
Prepare the container for planting
A heavier container will be the best for planting these amaryllis bulbs. As the flower grows, it can become quite top-heavy, so a sturdy base will keep the entire container from toppling over. Also, as the flower grows, a stake may be necessary. The stem of an amaryllis is quite strong but does usually need some help.
Line the container with plastic. This step is optional, but it keeps a container free of moisture and soil.
I’m using an antique galvanized dry measure container that I want to keep clean so plastic is necessary.
Plant the amaryllis bulbs
Begin by placing good-quality potting soil in one-third of the container.
Set the bulb(s) on top of the soil with the roots pointing down into the soil.
Add soil around the bulb and roots, pressing around evenly to push out any air pockets. Leave one-third to one-half of the bulb exposed on top of the soil.
For aesthetics, moss or pea gravel can be placed over the soil.
Water the bulb well after planting. Do not water the bulb again until the flower stems emerge and begin to grow. Until the stems emerge, the roots are not growing and active.
What happens after the amaryllis blooms?
After the amaryllis has bloomed and the leaves have grown, it can be kept from year to year. Simply keep it in a sunny place and water as a houseplant. As the weather permits with nighttime temperatures above 50 degrees F, set the plant outside in the sun. Keep watered and in the sun until August. In August, cut off the leaves and place the bulb in a dark closet. In November, treat it as a new amaryllis bulb and hope for a bloom!