Planting my Amaryllis Bulbs

If you're an aficionado of beautiful holiday flowers, then the Amaryllis must surely be among your favourites. They are my favourite holiday flower and I grow them every year. I really enjoy the process of planting them and then the anticipation of their enormous, trumpet-like blooms. It generally takes about six to eight weeks for the bulbs to flower, which is why it's crucial to plant your bulbs now if you expect to have them in full bloom by Christmas. I always plant mine the first week of November, which ensures they'll be ready by the week of Christmas Day.
I prefer the Minerva variety with its candy-cane like stripes. I generally buy three bulbs.

The bulbs are inexpensive enough to have many: you can cluster several of them in the same cozy planter, as I do, or arrange groupings of smaller pots on a dining table in favour of a single centerpiece. They also make easy, assembly-line gifts: tuck single bulbs into attractive terra-cotta pots, along with printed care instructions, tie a nice red bow around the rim of the pot and you've got a pretty gift!

The biggest surprise about these plants is that they are not members of the genus Amaryllis at all. The big, fat bulbs are in the related genus Hippeastrum and descend from plants native to tropical America. (The genus Amaryllis contains only one species, Amaryllis Belladonna; it comes from South Africa, is still quite rare and is tricky to grow).


The bulbs we grow indoors at holiday time are simple to care for; they thrive on benign neglect for much of the year. First, they don't need much room. In fact, they prefer close quarters: a pot about two inches larger in diameter than the bulb is ideal, or several closely clustered in one larger container, leaving about two inches between each bulb. Use a well-draining potting mix: try a blend of well-rotted compost, coarse sand and vermiculite in a ratio of 3:3:2. The key is to make sure the soil is well-draining.
The bulbs look so humble before they are planted. They contain so much beauty inside!
It's important, too, not to bury the bulb completely. Be sure the plant is pointed right side up (wide end down) and cover the bulb up to its shoulders, leaving about one-third of the bulb visible above the soil.

When it comes to water, Amaryllis requires very little. Water them once after the initial planting and then only once a week, or as needed, after the plant begins to show signs of green growth emerging from the bulb. Once the plant does start its rapid growth spurt, ensure the soil is evenly moist but never sopping wet.
I plant he bulbs in a flower pot I got at Anthropologie many years ago. I love its artichoke-like motif.
Amaryllis loves the sun! They will not grow as well in dimly-lit areas of the home and much prefer a sunny south- or west-facing window with at least a few hours of direct sunlight.  Once they bloom, the plants should maintain their blossoms for a few weeks. Some of the better varieties will have multiple stems with multiple flowers.
I always put moss around the bulbs. It looks attractive and I tell myself the plants enjoy the extra company. 

Most of us discard the bulbs after the holidays, but if you're keen on keeping them until the following year, you certainly can. After the flowers die, cut back the stem to the tip of the bulb and then allow the foliage to continue to grow for the rest of the year, maintaining a regular watering schedule. In September, you will force the bulb into a dormant period by cutting back all of its foliage and keeping it in dark place for six to eight weeks without any light or water. In November, bring them out again and the flowering cycle should begin anew!
These were some of last year's blooms. The photo was taken on January 15th and it was the fourth straight week of flowers! Aren't they gorgeous? 


Anonymous said...

Andrew 2 questions:
-any time I plant the bulbs the green foliage always grows too tall for the size of the flower stalk, do you believe that is due to a low light level?
-how do you stake the plants so they may look attractive?

Anonymous said...

I visited your post to tell you about seeing MS on the cover of another trade publication. It addressed her relevancy as a brand. It mentions brownies and Snoop dog as a teaser. Anyway, Thanks for the floral reminder. I would get bulbs routinely, but until your post, the thought has yet to cross my mind. I will send my retired better half to find some and perhaps the success of such blooms will continue year after year with his help.


APM- Yes, the tall foliage is likely due to low light levels. The flowers should be taller than the foliage. Try a brighter spot and if it still persists i would simply trim back the leaves. Since it’s a seasonal showstopper and doesn’t last very long, it’s important to make the flowers the stars!


Anonymous, I believe the magazine is Ad Week. It’s a great article about the development of her empire.

Rowaida said...

Wow so pretty Andrew