Amaryllis, or rather Hippeastrum, bulbs in full bloom are part and parcel of the holiday season. Amaryllis bulbs make a wonderful Christmas present, especially when you present them planted in a beautiful pot or (transparent) glass bowl with decorative pebbles or stones. Bulbs & beyond even offers a stunning white Amaryllis variety called "Christmas Gift"!
Amaryllis bulbs are extremely easy to grow indoors, and to have them flower at Christmas and New Year, you would have to plant them at the end of October. If you are not too fussed about having them in bloom at Christmas, you can still plant them later in the year or even in early spring, and they will flower until well after Easter. In fact, early spring is when they flower naturally.
However, this article is about getting your Amaryllis bulbs to flower at Christmas so let’s focus on that. There are two ways of going about planting your bulbs: in a pot with good old-fashioned potting soil or in a bowl with (decorative) pebbles and water.
Amaryllis in pots
When growing Amaryllis bulbs in a pot or container, choose a container that has drainage holes in the bottom and is not too large. The pot doesn’t have to be much larger than the bulb itself (3cm in between the bulb and the sides is plenty). Clearly if you plant 3 or 5 bulbs, you would need a very large container but the same goes in terms of spacing. Several Hippeastrum bulbs planted together simply look stunning!
To pot the Amaryllis bulb, fill the bottom part of the pot with some stones/crocks and potting soil and then place the bulb inside. Fill the rest of the pot with soil, but ensure that 1/3 of the bulb is sticking out above the soil as Hippeastrum bulbs do not like to be totally covered. Amaryllis bulbs have a tendency to rot if the soil is too wet so good drainage is absolutely essential. If the pot is placed on a dish to collect water, tip it away after watering rather than allowing the pot to sit in water all the time. Make sure you water the bulb well in the beginning but do not overwater. Once planted and watered, wait with further watering until shoot emerges, as it does not like to be in continuously wet soil (then just ensure that the soil does not dry out by regularly watering the plant).
Amaryllis “on the rocks”
Another way of planting Amaryllis bulbs is to place them in a bowl with pebbles. Just fill a bowl with 5 to 8cm of decorative stones and place the bulb(s) on top (see picture of Amaryllis “Red Lion” on the right).
Then add some more stones to support the bulbs. The roots will quickly grow around the pebbles in the bowl, which will “anchor” the bulbs. Monitoring the water level is now easy as all you have to do is keep it just under the base of the bulb (the roots need to be able to reach the water of course). Ensure that the bulb sits on top of the stones and do not let the bulbs sit in the water, as then they will most likely rot.
Protect your Amaryllis from tipping over
As Amaryllis bulbs normally produce multiple flowers and often multiple stems too, it is wise to have some bamboo sticks at the ready in order to support the stems to keep them upright once the heavy flowers are out. The last thing you would want to see is your bulbs tip over just when they start to flower!
In order to keep your Amaryllis flower at an optimal height (40-50cm), place them in a spot in full daylight at room temperature (21-23 degrees Celsius). If the growing plant is in a dark location then it will keep searching for the light and grow too tall. A shelf above a radiator next to a window works really well. While growing, try to rotate them 180 degrees each day to avoid the stems leaning toward the light. There has also been some interesting research into manipulating the length of indoor bulb stems using an alcohol solution. Read more about this in our recent article about Paperwhite bulbs and alcohol.
Prolonging the life of your Amaryllis
To make the flowers last longer, place the bulb(s) in a slightly cooler location if possible (i.e. away from the radiator) once the flowers are open. Flowers should last for at least 3 weeks. Big bulbs will likely produce at least one, but sometimes even two further stems with flowers. Therefore, when the first stem(s) with flowers have died, cut off the stem a few centimeters above the bulb nose, and there will be a big chance that the bulb will produce another stem with long-lasting flowers shortly after. This makes Amaryllis bulbs great value for money.
If you are trying to time the flowering period then the general rule is that placing the plant in a cooler location will hold back its growth, and moving it to a warmer spot will accelerate growth. Normally, when moved to a warm sunny spot, the bulb will produce flowers within 4-6 weeks.
Visit our store to browse our online Amaryllis bulb collection. If you have any questions about indoor Amaryllis/Hippeastrum bulbs, then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.bulbsandbeyond.com.