Here at Gardening Know How we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. A popular plant with many people is the amaryllis. While it’s often grown indoors, planting amaryllis in the garden is also an option for gardeners residing in warmer climates. Below are the 10 most commonly asked questions about amaryllis plants, both indoors and out.
Amaryllis should be kept in a pot and brought back in for the winter in most climates; it is not very hardy. Another reason to keep it in a pot is that amaryllis produces more blooms when it is crowded. That said, in zones above USDA 7b, it is possible to plant them in the garden. To enjoy amaryllis outside in cooler regions, simply move pots outside for the summer and bring them back inside for the winter.
After an amaryllis blooms, you will be left with just leaves and stalks. To keep it healthy and encourage new blooms, cut off the tops of the stalks but keep the leaves in place. Fertilize your plant every couple of weeks, as it has become depleted of nutrients after producing the flowers. Water a couple times a week, and otherwise leave it alone.
After blooming, amaryllis plants go through a growth phase. It stores energy for the next blooming, but if conditions aren’t right it may not produce flowers. Cut off the faded flowers so seeds don’t form. Remove the stalks once they have yellowed. Give it a sunny spot, regular fertilizer to replenish lost nutrients, and water it adequately, and you should get blooms again.
Timing the reblooming of an amaryllis can be tricky. For Christmas blooms, bring the plant inside about mid-August. Leave it in a cool spot and stop watering it. Keep it in a dark spot after the leaves die and wait until a new flower stalk emerges. Once you see the new stalk, move the plant to a warmer and sunny spot and begin watering and fertilizing.
You can grow an amaryllis bulb in water for one growing season, but after that it should be planted in soil or thrown away. Start with a vase or glass jar that is slightly wider than the bulb. Use enough water so that when the bulb is placed in the jar, only the roots and the base of the bulb are in the water. Keep the bulb in a sunny, warm spot and add water as needed to maintain the level. Completely change the water once a week. The bulb won’t produce as well as it would in soil, but you should get a bloom.
Proper amaryllis fertilizing can be key to a healthy plant and stunning blooms. To promote the production of flowers in amaryllis, use a fertilizer high in phosphorus. Bone meal is one option. Fertilizing regularly during the bulbs’ dormant period is especially important in promoting new blooms.
Amaryllis is one plant that prefers to be crowded in its pot, so repotting often is not necessary. If you do need to repot, choose a container that drains and size it so that the diameter of the pot is about one inch (2.5 cm.) wider than the bulb. Fill the pot halfway with soil that has a lot of organic matter. Place the bulb with the roots down in the soil and add more, pressing it down until just one-third of the bulb remains above the level of the soil.
Amaryllis bulbs actually prefer to be crowded, but if you want to divide a plant you can do so, just do it gently. Simply dig out the clump of bulbs, get all the way under it, and gently remove one or more bulbs. Be careful not to damage or trim the leaves, which are needed for proper growth. Provide some shade for replanted bulbs as they become situated in a new spot.
Amaryllis and other bulbs, like daffodils and hyacinth, can be easily forced indoors. A popular choice is to use a glass jar or vase. Use one that is just a little bit wider than the bulb and fill the bottom with decorative stones or gravel. Add enough water to submerge the roots and the base of the bulb. Likewise, you can opt to force amaryllis bulbs in soil. Keep the bulb in a sunny, warm window, and wait for a bloom.
Amaryllis is stunning but can become top heavy. Toppling over is a real problem for potted bulbs like this, especially since they prefer to be crowded in small pots. An easy solution is to place the smaller pot inside a larger one that will support it. You can also use a decorative box or a box wrapped in pretty paper to hold and support the amaryllis in its small pot. Additionally, there are plant supports available for staking amaryllis plants or you can make your own.
We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.