Winter makes everything drab and dull, and there aren’t many flowers or even plants growing during the frosty months. If you’re looking for a natural pop of color in the house, you should go for flowers. Today, let’s discuss how to grow amaryllis, a large and vibrant yet easy to grow winter flower.
Most amaryllis should really be called Hippeastrum, which has quite a few different species. There’s only one species called amaryllis belladonna that has similar characteristics. All these flowers are collectively called amaryllis. Amaryllis are bulbous flowering plants. Most often, they are grown from bulbs.
A few hollow stems (called scapes) emerge from the bulb alongside leaves. Scapes grow to 1-2 feet tall, and each bears 2-5 trumpet-shaped flowers. Amaryllis can be grown both indoors and outdoors, and there’s a couple of different propagation techniques that you might try your hand at.
October to April is the time to grow amaryllis indoors, and the blooming takes 6-10 weeks. If you have a general idea of how to care for amaryllis and the necessary tools to grow it, it’s pretty easy to grow this flower.
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Ways to Propagate Amaryllis
Seeds are not always viable and don’t always “come true” to the mother plant. Therefore, other methods are preferred over seeds.
Using a bulb is the most popular and effective way to grow your amaryllis. Even a bulb is sold in a few different ways, and their care is slightly different. You might buy a bulb and then pot it in a well-draining medium to grow flowering amaryllis from it. However, there are also wax-covered bulbs available.
You can just place it on a table, and it will bloom in time. You can even hang it upside down for some unusual aesthetic reasons. Another sort of bulb you might find is the ones wrapped in moss and secured with copper wire. These only require sprays of water before they bloom. In this blog post, we will discuss how to grow amaryllis from bulbs.
You might be curious to know how to grow amaryllis bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs tend to grow offsets or small baby bulbs from their sides. Once these smaller bulbs are about one-third the size of the mother bulb, you can gently pry them away and then replant them. They’ll grow and hopefully start blooming next season. Take care not to harm the roots.
Mature amaryllis bulbs can be cut vertically in sections like pie or pizza to yield smaller sections. Ensure that each section has at least some portion of the stem tissue and a couple of scales.
Dust the sections with a fungicide and plant them in well-draining soil. Leaves will sprout soon, although it might take a couple of seasons for the sections to start producing flowers.
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How to Grow Amaryllis Indoors
I’m sure this is the section you’re here to learn more about, as everyone wants these bold and exquisite blooms to warm up their rooms in the dreary winter months. The easiest and beginner-friendly way to do so is by using bulbs. Here are the steps-
- Soak the bulb (with its roots) in water for about half a day before you plant it.
- Choose a pot with drainage holes in the bottom and is heavy enough that the weight of the heavy blooms will not tip it over.
- If the pot is light, consider adding stones to the bottom.
- Choose a planting medium that facilitates drainage.
- Amaryllis bulbs prefer a snug fit inside the pot. Ensure that there’s about one inch of space under and around the bulb.
- Keep the bulb’s “shoulders” above the soil. That means, keep the “neck” part of the bulb exposed so it can sprout.
- Water the soil to help the bulb settle. But take care not to overwater. Please don’t allow it to dry out, but do not water it so much that it becomes muddy or swampy. Overwatering is a sure way to kill this plant.
- After potting, place the pot where it will receive at least 6 hours of bright sunlight and warmth (between 75°F and 80°F. )
- In six to ten weeks, the bulb should start flowering. Once this starts, move the pot away from direct sunlight and provide diffused yet bright light. Cool weather also helps extend the bloom’s life. Once a flower has withered, snip it off with scissors.
- Want to grow your amaryllis bulb without using a growing medium? You can place it on a single layer of pebbles in a glass container with water up to its neck. This also prompts the bulb to sprout and flower.
How to Grow Amaryllis Outdoors
It’s a common practice to get rid of the amaryllis bulb as it stops flowering. As amaryllis bulbs are generally relatively inexpensive, that’s not unusual. However, if you want your amaryllis to bloom again next year, you can try growing it outdoors. In areas that are pretty warm and frost-free (zones 9-11), you can prepare the bulb to be planted outside.
Wait for the frost days to pass. Then, as the plant stops blooming, cut off the scapes but keep the leaves. Plant the amaryllis in your garden, or just move the pot outdoors. If you’re just moving the pot outside, place it on the spot that receives sunlight, but not too much of it. Partial shade works best. Too much sunlight causes leaf burn, while too little sunlight limits flowering.
Some people also just bury the planting pot in the soil with the rim picking out. They do this so when it’s time to take the plant indoors again, it can be done without a lot of hassle. If you’re planting the bulb right into the soil, consider planting it on a raised bed with good drainage. Adding compost or peat to the soil, so it drains well also works.
Fertilize the plant in spring. Remember never to add fertilizer before the plant has stopped flowering. In late summer or early fall, stop feeding or watering the plant. As the leaves gradually turn brown, you can trim off the dead leaves and retrieve the bulb out of the soil. Keep the root intact.
You can keep the bulb dormant for about 8-10 weeks before you can re-pot it for winter blooms. Keep the dormant bulb in a cool, dry, and dark location. Not in a fridge, though; that’s too cold.
Amaryllis Care Tips
Now that you know how to grow amaryllis, here are some helpful tips that I have picked up in my years of gardening. These little tips will help you get the healthiest, most striking amaryllis plants ever!
- When buying bulbs, go for the largest, healthiest looking bulbs. I shouldn’t have to remind you not to buy bulbs that look. The bigger the bulb is, the more scapes and flowers it will produce.
- However, do keep in mind that some species of amaryllis simply produce fewer and smaller flowers than others. It cannot be helped. There are many cultivars to choose from, so choose wisely.
- Use a heavy planting pot like earthen, terracotta, ceramic pots, and mason jars. Remember to pick a pot with a broad base, too.
- If decoration is what you’re aiming at, you can cut off flowering amaryllis scapes and place them in water in vases. This way, the flowers will stay fresh for up to two weeks- much longer than they would if they were left on the plant.
- If you want your amaryllis to grow straight and pretty, then it’s best to use stakes. There are a lot of decorative stakes available in the market. Also, as the scapes tend to lean towards sunlight, rotate the pot regularly to promote linear growth.
- Don’t plant all your bulbs at the same time. Space them out a week or two apart, so they keep blooming one after the other along the growing season. You can also choose bulbs of different cultivars, so many different types of flowers adorn your home.
- The bulb tends to shrink as it supplies the flowers with nutrition. So make sure to press the soil around the bulb inwards once in a while.
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Pests and Infestations
While growing amaryllis indoors, you would not have to tackle pests or infestations unless one of your other indoor plants is unhealthy. Even outside, you can usually get rid of sap-sucking insects and mites with a spray of water. Most insects can be deterred with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
If you’re noticing a large-scale infestation, you might have to resort to chemical insecticides. You can fend off common amaryllis diseases with proper watering and exposing the plant to plenty of sunlight. Once again, make sure not to overwater, and your plant will remain healthy.
So there you have it! A detailed guide on how to grow amaryllis outdoors, indoors, and from different propagating materials. Put them to use, and you’ll be able to see these plants splash a riot of colors throughout your home and garden.