Care of Amaryllis Flowers

The amaryllis is one of the most popular flowering bulbs because they are so easy to grow and produce spectacular blooms. Amaryllis are not suited for in-ground planting in areas that have extended periods of below-freezing temperatures. But no matter how cold your winters are, you can still enjoy magnificent amaryllis flowers by cultivating them for indoor blooming.

Outdoor Planting

Amaryllis are hardy and suitable for outdoor planting in USDA zones 8 to 11. The bulbs are susceptible to rotting if the ground is too wet, so you should choose a sunny garden spot where the soil is very well drained. Plant bulbs in late fall, October or November, for spring blooms. Don't plant them too deep; the tips of the bulbs should be just below the soil surface. Protect newly planted bulbs with a 2-inch layer of mulch.

Potted Amaryllis

Indoors, amaryllis will bloom six to eight weeks after they are planted. Choose a pot large enough to allow about 2 inches of space around the bulb. Be sure it has a drainage hole, because the bulb will rot if it's kept too wet. Fill the pot about one-third full with a good potting soil and then gently spread the roots out and place the bulb in the pot. Add more soil until you've covered about two-thirds of the bulb. You'll get the best results if the top third of the bulb is not covered with soil. Water thoroughly after planting, but don't water again until the bulb begins to sprout. Place the pot in a sunny window with plenty of light. Once the bulb sprouts, when the soil becomes dry, place the pot in a pan of water about 3 inches deep for one or two hours. The plant will draw water up from the bottom and you won't run the risk of over watering.

Blooming & After Blooming

Amaryllis usually produce four large blooms on a tall stalk. You may need to provide a stake to help support the flower stalk once the blooms open. Be careful not to damage the bulb when inserting the stake. Indoors, once the plant blooms you should move it from direct sunlight to prolong the flowers. As the flowers die, cut them from the stalk, and once they are all gone, cut the stalk about 2 inches from the top of the bulb. This will allow the bulb to store energy for the next season. Move potted amaryllis outside after the last spring frost. Place them in a sunny spot in their pots, and treat them as you would other house plants, with regular watering. Remember to bring them inside before the first fall frost. Store the pots in a dry, dark place for about six weeks, remove leaves as they die and don't water them. This will force the plant into a dormant state. After six weeks you can start the cycle all over again.

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