Amaryllis bulbs can be planted in pots several months before Christmas to grow large festive blooms just in time for the holidays. Learn how to plant Amaryllis bulbs in pots, and start a new winter gardening tradition.
In the winter months gardeners are usually in the pre season planning stage, dreaming about the next year’s garden and planning out the plantings.
Planting new seedlings and caring for those babies usually doesn’t happen until late winter or early spring.
However there are some wonderful bulbs such as Amaryllis, that you can start indoors in late October or early November. These flowering bulbs can take you right through to the holidays, filling that desire to grow some fresh flowers.
Once you grow them you will likely want more.
You can plant, water, and care for these bulbs in the months and days leading up to Christmas. Then they open their huge decorative blooms and put on a magical display just in time for the holidays.
It all starts with just one Amaryllis bulb.
Amaryllis are tropical flowering bulbs. We can grow Amaryllis in northern climates by forcing them indoors.
The flowers of Amaryllis are very large, and range in a variety of colours and designs. These big flowers grow in shades of pink, peach and red, and have petals which are solid, variegated, striped or edged.
The size of the bulbs will determine the number of growing flower spikes or stems. Each growing flower stalk will generally produce two to four large colourful blooms.
The flower bulbs are usually sold by size and are measured in centimetres, with the larger bulbs being more expensive.
Depending on the variety, it can take an Amaryllis bulb between five to twelve weeks to bloom.
Some bulbs can bloom more quickly depending on their origin, such as those grown in the southern hemisphere (faster growing) versus those grown in the northern hemisphere.
Forcing Amaryllis Bulbs
There are a number of ways to force these bulbs.
Amaryllis bulbs can be forced by growing:
- in a glass vase of water, supported by stones
- surrounded by a wax coating, often with an attached stand (there is no need to water these bulbs)
- wrapped in moss (soak once a week)
- in soil or soilless medium, such as coconut coir
When the dormant bulbs are planted, watered and placed in a warm location, they begin to wake up.
Wax coated bulbs only need the warm and sunny location, they do not require soil or water.
The large bulbs are easy to grow, and so interesting to watch, as they slowly reach towards the light.
Where To Find Amaryllis Bulbs
These bulbs are usually for sale in the big box stores around the beginning of November. They generally arrive just in time for the seasonal planting.
Sometimes you can find them at local garden centres in your area if they are open in the fall and during the cooler months.
You can also purchase Amaryllis bulbs online from various bulb suppliers.
When Do Amaryllis Bloom?
Amaryllis bulbs will bloom at about five to twelve weeks after planting them in a warm location, depending on the origin of the bulb.
Bulbs from the Southern Hemisphere such as Peru or South Africa will bloom more quickly than some others, and are ideal to force at Christmas time. They are naturally awakening at the time that we are forcing them to bloom.
On the other hand, bulbs from the Northern Hemisphere such as Holland can take a bit longer to awaken, as this is not their natural time to bloom. These bulbs can take six to twelve weeks to reach the flowering stage.
For these later blooming bulbs, depending on the planting time, you can still enjoy these blooms throughout the winter months.
When To Plant Amaryllis For Christmas Bloom
In order to get Amaryllis flowers for Christmas, the bulbs should be planted at least six to eight weeks before the holidays.
The best bulbs to plant for Christmas blooming are the fast growing bulbs from the southern hemisphere.
While I love to get an Amaryllis plant to bloom for Christmas, I generally aim for the holiday season instead, just in case they are a few weeks off.
This year we had our first flower bud within a month of planting.
The Amaryllis buds were just bursting for Christmas, and then opened up on Boxing Day. Those blooms lasted about a week and a half, and now the blooms on the second stem are in full bloom.
Our Amaryllis was planted mid November.
What Month Do You Plant Amaryllis Bulbs?
Plant Amaryllis bulbs at the end of October, or by at least mid November for Christmas blooms.
However, you can also plant them any time, especially if you receive them later as a gift, or pick them up later in the season.
In this case plant them anytime you receive them, and enjoy the beautiful blooms throughout the winter months.
How To Plant Amaryllis Bulbs In Pots
Often the bulbs can be purchased in a kit with a pot included, which is exactly how my Amaryllis Red Lion bulb came.
Supplies For Growing Amaryllis In A Pot:
- an Amaryllis bulb
- a small pot with drainage holes
- good quality potting mix or soilless medium
Do You Soak Amaryllis Bulbs Before Planting?
You can soak the dried roots of the Amaryllis bulbs before planting for an hour or two, however this is not a necessary step to break dormancy. The bulbs can also be planted directly into the planting medium without pre soaking. Water in well after planting, and don’t water again until new growth appears.
Directions To Plant Amaryllis Bulbs In Pots
- Amaryllis bulbs are quite large, and it’s important to plant them in a pot where there will be a bit of space between the bulb and the pot.
- Amaryllis bulbs however like a pot that is somewhat tight. So choose a pot that is two inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. This gives about an inch of space around the bulb once it is planted, which is ideal.
- Fill the pot up about halfway with the soil or soilless medium.
- Create a hole in the middle of the soil in which to nest the bulb. Place the bulb into the hole.
- Add additional soil or soilless medium around the bulb until it is partially covered about one half to two thirds of the way up the bulb.
- Allow one third to one half of the bulb to remain exposed above the soil. This is referred to the shoulders and the neck of the bulb.
- This will allow the top third of the bulb to remain dry as the flower grows, and adds to the rustic appearance in the pot.
- The soil around the lower part of the bulb will help to keep the stem and flowers supported during active growth, especially as the flower stem stretches and grows.
- Water in well after planting, and saturate the soil.
- Then don’t water again until you see some growth at the tip of the bulb.
Awaiting The Amaryllis To Awaken And Start To Grow
- The warmth and the sunlight will help to awaken the bulb.
- You can top dress the soil with moss, pebbles or pine cones. You can also use evergreen boughs. This adds a wonderful finished look to the pot.
- Place in a bright sunny spot in a warm location to encourage the bulb to wake up, such as in a sunny window, at about 70°F.
Caring For Amaryllis In A Pot
- As the stems begin to grow, it’s time to begin watering the potted bulb. Wait until there is about two inches of stem visible, then water the pot regularly with about one quarter cup of tepid to lukewarm water once per week.
- As the stems grow you may notice that they start to grow sideways towards the sun. This is normal, just turn the pot around and the stems should readjust.
- Try to train your stem to grow upright by turning the pot regularly.
- I would have to say that my stems did get a bit out of hand, as I was maybe not as attentive to their stretching behaviour as I should have been. They were still beautiful regardless of the sideways stems.
- The other issue of the sideways stem, aside from the appearance, is that the weight of the flowers and stems growing sideways can put pressure on the bulb, dislodging it from it’s base, which is not ideal.
- When the large flowers begin to bloom, make sure to move them out of the direct light and into a cooler spot, as bright sunlight can cause the blooms to wilt more quickly. This will help the blooms to last for a little bit longer, plus you can move them to a location where you can really enjoy them inside your home.
Stake Early To Support The Blooms
- If the stems get quite tall they may require staking. Staking is easy and helps to keep the stems and blooms upright.
- If you have planted multiple Amaryllis in a pot, consider using a beautiful branch as a stake, securing the multiple stems of the Amaryllis to the branch to hold everything upright.
What To Do With Amaryllis Bulbs After They Bloom
As each of the individual flowers on the stem becomes spent, you can remove the old flowers to keep the plant tidy. Just break the spent flowers off at the base adjacent to the stem.
The spent blooms can be full of dye, so be careful when handling so as not to get the colour on your clothing or tablecloth.
When all of the blooms on the stem have finished blooming, cut the stem back to within one inch from the top of the bulb.
Allow the leaves to grow on as an indoor plant or houseplant. The leaves alone are still very attractive and actually make a nice houseplant.
Keep the plant in a sunny and warm location, and water once a week.
Grow On In The Garden
Then in spring, around the time you would be planting out dahlia tubers, bring the potted Amaryllis outside to grow for the growing season in a full sun location. You can keep it in the pot as a potted plant, or plant it into the garden into well drained soil with lots of organic matter and good drainage.
While growing outside in summer, the growing leaves will be contributing to the growth of the bulb throughout the season.
Promote A Dormant Period
At the end of August or early fall bring the bulb back inside and place it in a cool room in a dark location. Do not water, and allow the bulb to go completely dormant.
The leaves will turn yellow and die back, however that is normal. During this dormancy period the bulb will be preparing for it’s next blooming cycle.
Maintain the dormant period for the next two to three months, and then bring the bulb back out, about six to eight weeks before Christmas.
Time To Rebloom
Repot if necessary, although Amaryllis bulbs tend to like being pot bound, and water and place in a warm sunny window, to start a new blooming cycle for beautiful Christmas blooms.
Learn how to plant Amaryllis bulbs in pots, or try any other way of forcing these wonderful bulbs.
Forcing Amaryllis bulbs and growing them indoors can become a wonderful hobby.
Grow them alongside sweet Wintergreen and Christmas cactus for a collection of holiday plants.
If you learn how to care for your Amaryllis bulbs after blooming, with proper care you can keep the bulbs and grow them on for future blooming in following years.
Some Amaryllis collectors gather and grow new Amaryllis varieties year after year.
Fill your home with beautiful blooms during the off season.
It all starts with just one Amaryllis bulb.
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Amaryllis In Wax
Have you ever tried to plant Amaryllis bulbs in a pots? Be sure to leave a comment below to share your experience!