Flowers

Amaryllis Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Hippeastrum”

Read our guide to Amaryllis for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Hippeastrum”

The amaryllis plant is usually among the first choices during winter because of its beautiful bell-shaped and bright-coloured flowers. They make excellent decorations during the cold season, especially throughout the winter holidays.

If you are a novice gardener, you might think you are not ready for this plant. But you don’t have to worry about not being able to take care of amaryllis, as it isn’t too difficult of a task to grow this plant from a bulb and bring it into bloom. If you want the amaryllis flowers to be in full bloom by Christmas, you should plant them sometime around the end of October and the beginning of November. Generally, it takes from six to eight weeks – even ten – for amaryllis to bloom, but it is best to check the variety you want to get, as this timeframe might differ.

Even though many gardeners choose to grow amaryllis in time for Christmas, this isn’t a general rule. So, if you prefer the amaryllis flowers to bloom in late winter or the beginning of spring, you can do so by growing the plant in a frost-free garden.

Keep reading to uncover other exciting facts about amaryllis and learn how to take care of this stunning plant!

About Amaryllis

  • The plant’s name is derived from the Greek word “amarysso”, which translates into “to sparkle”. Given that the amaryllis flowers are so breath-taking and certainly stand out of the crowd due to their size and beauty, it isn’t surprising that the name means sparkle.
  • The majority of the amaryllis plants grown nowadays are, in fact, hybrid flowers from the Hippeastrum genus. Therefore, the amaryllis plants that you’ll find on the market are bred hybrids from numerous species of this genus, native to Central and South Africa.
  • The Hippeastrum name also comes from ancient Greek words: “hippeus” and “astron”, meaning “mounted knight” and “star”, respectively. So, the genus’ name can be translated into “knight’s star”. Looking at the white picotee flowers of amaryllis, you could easily think of a star!
  • Apart from the hybrid flowers, there is also an amaryllis genus – the only member of the Amaryllidaceae family. This genus only contains two species that are native to South Africa: Amaryllis belladonna and Amaryllis paradisicola. Of the two, Amaryllis belladonna is the most popular.
  • Although the amaryllis plant generally blooms during spring or even summer in nature, it has become a type of holiday plant during winter, with its plants blooming just in time for Christmas.
  • If you wish, it is possible to grow amaryllis from seed. However, this growing option is long-lasting, with the plant reaching maturity in a few years. For this reason, amaryllis is generally grown from bulbs of various sizes.
  • Usually grown in pots, but can also be planted in a garden in an outdoor container alongside Aster flowers or plants with similar requirements like the full or partial sun. So, amaryllis can be partnered with daylilies, coreopsis, salvia, verbena, kniphofia, or gypsophila. This plant also looks excellent when planted with aeoniums or agapanthus, also known as the African Lily, in various garden settings, such as the Mediterranean gardens.
Amaryllis
Amaryllis

Amaryllis Features: An Overview

  • The most popular colour for the amaryllis plant is deep bright red, especially when the blooming season is right before the Christmas holiday. But apart from red, amaryllis flowers can come in white, rose pink, burgundy, or a salmon shade.
  • In some cases, for specific amaryllis varieties, the flowers can bloom in white and red bicolour combinations, or the plant can bloom picotee flowers.
  • The amaryllis flowering plant is a perennial with narrow, flat, and glossy leaves with large-sized beautifully coloured flowers on separate stalks, blooming at the top.
  • There are some cybister varieties of amaryllis, named H. cybister, which are known as the wild species of this plant, with flowers being described as “spiderlike” thanks to their thin tepals.
  • The amaryllis plant is poisonous, containing various alkaloids. Hence, it can be harmful to humans if they eat any part of the plant in large quantities. Interestingly, scientists are studying amaryllis as this plant might have beneficial properties, and research studies are being conducted on the plant’s promising role in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The amaryllis can reach incredible heights, up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall, and can be extremely sturdy. Because of this, the amaryllis is known in the language of flowers to represent strength and determination.

Growing Amaryllis

The amaryllis is a plant that does best in full sun conditions to part shade as well. Whether you grow this plant outdoors or indoors, the light requirements slightly differ. Therefore, if grown outside, a bright shade is ideal for amaryllis throughout the day. On the other hand, if you grow amaryllis in a pot indoors, you should expose the plant to the morning side but allow it bright shade from the afternoon hours.

A noteworthy mention if you decide to grow amaryllis would be that the size of the bulb matters — the bigger the bulb, the fuller the bloom. Therefore, you need to consider this when purchasing amaryllis bulbs and think about your available space for this plant. Some varieties can grow much larger in height than others, with bigger flowers. It isn’t difficult to grow an amaryllis flowering plant, but you should know that these plants can live for many years. So, anyone who wishes to grow amaryllis should be very committed.

Amaryllis Kit Red Lion With Artisan Decorative Planter, From Amazon

Planting Amaryllis

Regardless of where you want to plant amaryllis, the plant’s bulbs grow best in rich, well-drained, and fertile soils outdoors or rich and high-quality potting mix if planted indoors. As for the soil type, slightly acidic is ideal for amaryllis, which means the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5. Amaryllis isn’t necessarily a sun-loving plant. Even though full sun and bright light are beneficial, amaryllis shouldn’t be left in direct sunlight. Part shade conditions are preferred.

Because you can plant amaryllis indoors as well as outdoors, it is vital to point out the differences between the two. If your amaryllis is a new indoor plant with seasonal blooms, you need to get a pot of 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm) and a high-quality potting mix with well-draining qualities. When you place the potting mix in the pot, it is crucial you take into consideration the fact that the top one-third of the amaryllis plant should be left exposed. Because the plant is sturdy and quite heavy at the top, it is best to use a stake to support its weight and height. The soil should be kept moist, and the plant should be placed in an area where it can receive indirect light.

Bulbs have to be planted differently outdoors, depending on whether the area where you want to plant amaryllis is frost-free or not. If it is, the bulbs’ necks should be at ground level. On the other hand, if the area is predisposed to frost, you should plant the bulbs underneath 5 inches of soil. In this case, 5 inches of mulch are also necessary. When planting, you should water regularly. After that, check if the top 2 inches of soil have dried out. If yes, water immediately.

Watering Amaryllis

As amaryllis do best in well-drained soils, it is of the utmost importance to water the plant sparingly when the top 2 inches become dry. It is essential not to let the soil dry out during the growing and flowering period. Then, you need to water it quite regularly to ensure the soil doesn’t become dry at any time. For amaryllis, the only period when the plant requires a dry rest period is right after flowering. This allows the plant’s bulbs to prepare for future blooms.

Hippeastrum
Hippeastrum

For gardeners, novice and experienced alike, wishing to plant amaryllis before the Christmas bloom, it is vital you manipulate the watering schedule, given that you need to force the plant to bloom during this season. For this to happen, you need to stop watering the plant approximately 10 to 12 weeks before the desired blooming time – in this case, Christmas. Due to lack of watering, the foliage will be no longer, and the amaryllis won’t make another flower stalk. After this period, you can begin watering the plant once again. You’ll notice leaves coming out, followed by flowers starting to bloom.

Propagating Amaryllis

Similar to daffodils, amaryllis is a flowering plant whose bulbs produce offsets, or bulbils. These can be easily removed from the bulb and used for propagating amaryllis by division during fall. This action is not too challenging, so any amateur gardeners can rest assured they will be able to do this without a doubt.

The removed bulbils need to be planted in individual pots and fertilized regularly. During this growing period, it is recommended you expose your amaryllis to as much sunlight as possible and maintain the soil’s moisture. When propagating amaryllis, it is crucial to know that you should expect flowers when the plant is more mature after a few growing seasons.

In Conclusion

Amaryllis is a seasonal bloomer flowering plant with a perennial bulb. However, amaryllis is more commonly planted during fall and forced into winter holiday bloom, especially during Christmas. The amaryllis can be grown indoors and outdoors, in containers or beds and borders. Regardless of their level of experience, any gardener who wishes to grow amaryllis should be pretty committed to taking care of this plant, given it can live many years – up to 75! No wonder amaryllis is known to represent strength and determination.

Have you started growing amaryllis? Don’t hesitate to share your experience in the comment section!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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