Amaryllis are hugely popular houseplants that traditionally bloom in winter and bring a vibrant pop of color to the home throughout the colder months.
They are very simple to grow and usually bloom within eight weeks of planting the bulbs.
Renowned as Christmas plants, most growers want to time their amaryllis to be in full bloom for the festive period. That usually means planting them in fall so their large and impressive blooms are ready to light up the home at the end of the year.
Many people may not realize that amaryllis actually have a long flowering season and, by spacing out your planting, it means potentially having these easy indoor plants blooming all the way from winter through to early summer.
Indoor bulbs for Christmas
Amaryllis are fantastic indoor flowering plants and hugely popular as bulbs for Christmas blooms. Along with the likes of hyacinths, daffodils, crocus, and snowdrops, forced bulbs are used as Christmas decor and their blooms can come to the fore in the festive period and through January.
It does require a little bit of forward planning to ensure blooms will be flowering at the right time, and here we take a look at when and how you can plant amaryllis for glorious blooms throughout the bleaker months of the year.
When to plant an amaryllis bulb
The planting window for amaryllis bulbs is actually quite a long one: you can plant the bulbs starting in October through to the end of April. The bulbs often take from 6-8 weeks to flower, depending on their growing conditions, and it means they can bloom all the way through to early summer.
It may take a while for amaryllis to get going, but it is worth the wait when the plant blooms. While they do have a potentially long flowering window, most people grow amaryllis for the festive season - meaning bulbs should be planted in October or early November.
There is a wide range of amaryllis to choose from and you can see a range of jumbo sized amaryllis bulbs available at Dutch Grown.
When to plant amaryllis bulbs for Christmas blooms
To ensure that your amaryllis bulb is in full bloom for Christmas, planting it at the right time is imperative. Understanding the length of time it takes for bulbs to go from planting to blooming means you can get the timing spot on to include flowering amaryllis as part of your holiday decorations.
Mike Lansing, the managing director of Planters Digest, advises people to ‘buy several different varieties’ of amaryllis for blooms all winter long, as some types flower earlier than others.
However, when it comes to the timing for specific celebrations, he recommends: ‘Start bulbs right after Halloween if you want flowers during the Christmas season. Plant around New Year's Day to have blossoms for Valentine's Day.’
It is important to remember that, as well as the type of bulb, the temperature, light levels, and watering will impact on how long it takes for the amaryllis to bloom. The environmental conditions it is growing in will have an effect on whether it is ready in time for Christmas, or blooms closer to the new year.
Mike Lansing is the co-founder and managing director of Planters Digest, and a certified garden designer, who turned a passion for plants into a thriving business. He now runs a small indoor plant business with his family and enjoys researching new gardening techniques.
How to plant amaryllis bulbs
To begin with, it is advisable to soak the base of an amaryllis bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours before planting. This process rehydrates the roots and can help to speed up its growth.
After this, Zahid Adnan, passionate gardener and founder of The Plant Bible, recommends four key stages to follow when planting amaryllis bulbs:
- Choose a Suitable Container - Select a pot or container that's about 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the amaryllis bulb. Ensure the container has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogged soil, which can lead to bulb rot.
- Quality Potting Mix - Use a well-draining potting mix, preferably with a mix of organic matter and perlite. Amaryllis bulbs appreciate good drainage, so avoid heavy soils.
- Planting Depth - Place the amaryllis bulb in the container, burying it about two-thirds deep. Leave the top one-third of the bulb above the soil line.
- Water and Light - Water your bulb thoroughly after planting to settle the soil. Then, place the pot in a sunny location, ensuring it receives indirect sunlight. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Reduce watering after the initial growth phase.
As the amaryllis develops it is beneficial to feed it with a balanced fertilizer every 2-4 weeks and use supports to keep it upright - as it is liable to be top-heavy once its large flowers bloom.
Don’t discard amaryllis after it blooms, as they can be encouraged with the right care to flower again the following year.
Zahid Adnan is a renowned figure in the gardening industry, with extensive experience and hard-earned skills in horticulture. As the Founder and Editor of ThePlantBible.com, he provides top-tier content and professional advice to fellow gardening enthusiasts on a daily basis.
How do you keep an amaryllis bulb for next year?
After an amaryllis flowers, the stalk should be cut back and the plant kept moist until the leaves start to go yellow. Amaryllis bulbs need to go dormant for summer and benefit from being stored somewhere cool and not being watered.
Either keep them in a cool spot in the home or place your amaryllis in a sheltered spot outside, away from strong sunlight. After a couple of months, they can be top-dressed with compost and placed back in a sunny spot.
Resume watering and feeding and the plant can start to grow again. It is better to keep the amaryllis bulb in the pot for as long as possible, rather than lift the bulb annually, as the plants do not enjoy root disturbance.
Unfortunately, amaryllis may be great indoor plants but they can be poisonous to dogs and cats. There are other pet safe indoor plants that can bring color into the home for the festive period, including the Christmas cactus.
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Drew’s passion for gardening started with growing vegetables and salad in raised beds in a small urban terrace garden. He has gone on to work as a professional gardener in historic gardens across the UK and also specialise as a kitchen gardener growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers. That passion for growing extends to being an allotmenteer, garden blogger, and producing how-to gardening guides for websites. Drew was shortlisted in the New Talent of the Year award at the 2023 Garden Media Guild Awards.
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