Friday, November 21, 2014

Growing Amaryllis: Easy for Everyone (and a giveaway!)

Hippeastrum 'Gervase'
For as much as I dread winter every year, there are some things about it that I look forward to. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Fluffy snowfalls. The smell of winter air. Curling up on the sofa with a blanket, a kitty, and a good book.

And amaryllis.

Gardening continues for me, in spite of the outside gardens going dormant during the winter months. I've got plenty of houseplants to keep me busy, both in the house and in the conservatory. Most of those simply need to be watered, but I'll pot up my collection of amaryllis all winter long and have beautiful blooms from winter through spring.

Even though I get a few new bulbs each autumn, I save the bulbs from previous years, growing them outside over the summer. This year, I set aside a specific area for growing them, using galvanized aluminum firepit rings. I plant them, making sure to keep part of the top of the bulb exposed, and let them do their thing. Usually one or two of them will reward me with a bloom stalk sometime during the summer.

This is where my amaryllis bulbs lived for the summer,
before I dug them up just before first frost.

'Apple Blossom' bloomed outside in June.
Before first frost, I trim away the foliage, dig them back up and store them in the cool, dark basement until I'm ready to pot them up again.

New to my collection this year are 'Lagoon', a deep pink variety, and 'Magnum', which is red. 'Lagoon' is already potted up and beginning to grow and I put 'Magnum' in its container today. For the last three years, Longfield Gardens has sent a free amaryllis planting kit to me and being the amaryllis-crazed gardener that I am, I've really enjoyed this surprise gift.

Longfield's bulbs are some of the largest I've ever seen and a larger bulb means more blooms. Last year's Longfield bulb produced three flower stalks, and of the nearly 100 amaryllis bulbs I've grown, that was a first for me.

This year's amaryllis kit from Longfield Gardens contained a large 'Magnum'
bulb, potting medium, a plastic-lined "bird's nest" basket, and Spanish
moss for top-dressing the container.

 Potting them up is easy:

Choose a container just a little larger than the bulb. Amaryllis like it snug. The heavier the container, the better, because by the time it blooms, it's going to be top-heavy. I use a fairly inconspicuous plant support like this one to give the flower stalk stability once it gets some height to it.

Most bulbs like very well-draining soil, and this is especially important when planting in a container. I like to use a potting mix designed for cacti (which also need good drainage) when potting up my amaryllis and I make sure that there's a drainage hole in the bottom of the container. Soggy soil encourages bulb rot and fungus gnats and you don't want that! If the container you want to use doesn't have a drainage hole, you'll need to be extra vigilant about not overwatering.

Make sure that you leave the top fourth of the bulb exposed when firming up the soil around the bulb. Water thoroughly but don't water again until you see signs of growth. Thereafter, only water when the top inch or so of soil is dry to the touch. Err on the side of underwatering if you aren't sure.

I use  Haven Brand Compost Tea for watering all my houseplants and the amaryllises are no exception. It's nearly impossible to overfeed them when using this natural, organic product.


  • Some amaryllis will have the flower stalk appear first and foliage later. Others will do just the opposite.
  • Amaryllis make great cut flowers. In fact, the blooms tend to last longer when cut and put into a vase of water. Be sure to change the water daily though.
  • You can keep your amaryllis bulbs from year to year. Continue to care for the plant in its container, or do like I do and plant them outside for the summer, after all danger of frost is past. Grow them on throughout the summer, then cut back and dig up before first fall frost. 

Here's a short video featuring some of the amaryllis blooms from my amaryllis collection over the years:

Want an amaryllis of your very own?

Now that you know how to grow them, guess what? Longfield Gardens wants to send a 'Red Lion' amaryllis bulb to one of my readers! And Annie Haven provided some extra Moo Poo Tea in with my last order, so I'll send the winner a 3-pack of that as well.

Here's what you need to do to be entered:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post, telling me about your amaryllis experience. (Have you grown them? If so, what is your favorite one? Do you keep your bulbs from year to year?)


 2. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below with your contact information. I'll use this when choosing a random winner and to contact you if you're the lucky one.

Enter by midnight EST next Sunday night, November 30th and a winner will be chosen on Monday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WINNER!  Rafflecopter has spoken! Lona B. is the lucky winner of the giveaway and has been notified. Thanks to all who entered and commented. Look for amaryllis bulbs in your garden centers now!

But wait! There's MORE! 

My friends Dee Nash of Red Dirt Ramblings® and Robin Haglund of Garden Mentors are each giving away a bulb from Longfield Gardens and some Moo Poo Tea too! Robin is a new amaryllis grower and I love her excitement and enthusiasm over it. Dee is a veteran grower like me and has grown some beautiful varieties. Check them out and triple your chances at winning a bulb and some Moo Poo goodness:

Garden Mentors  - "Amaryllis Advent Calendar"
Red Dirt Ramblings® - "Growing Amaryllis is Easy"

If you want to read more about my Adventures in Amaryllis, here are some links to earlier posts about them:

Amaryllis Blooms Never Fail to Deliver
Amaryllis Season Has Begun!
Green Thumb Sunday - Amaryllis 'Lemon Lime'
Remember the Amaryllis!
The Hippeastrum on the Shelf
Absolutely Amazing Awesome Amaryllis
Desperately Seeking Susan
'Tis the Season
Wordless Wednesday: 'Gold Medal' Amaryllis
Amaryllis is a 'Dancing Queen'
Play 'Misty' For Me

Longfield Gardens sent me a free amaryllis kit and has provided an amaryllis bulb for the purposes of this giveaway. Annie Haven provided a 3-pack of Haven Brand Compost Tea as a bonus in my order, which I am giving away here. All opinions about these two companies are my own.


Colleen said...

I have planted and grew the outdoor amaryllis bulbs.
They are one of my favorite flowers.
Planted mine in containers but being I live in Texas, I have never dug up the bulbs and stored them for the following year.
Living in the country, we have many cats that roam the area and I think they ended up killing mine due to the fact they used the containers as their potty. :{
Thank you for this wonderful giveaway opportunity

Shawna Lee Coronado said...

I love Amaryllis and yours are beautiful. :-)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

These bulbs are champions of winter color and form. Great post.

Sallysmom said...

I have some amaryllis that came from my mom's yard. They bloom every year. The ones I purchase to bloom inside the house I plant in the yard but have never brought them back in. They haven't bloomed again so I think maybe they may be planted a little too deep.

Sue Chanay said...

This is the first year I have grown amaryllis outside in a container. They really grew well and looked so healthy when I cut them off and brought them inside for storage. I am waiting for a couple weeks to bring out of storage and pot them up. I am hoping that I have done everything correctly and they will produce blooms. One of mine is the "Apple Blossom" that you have the photo of. It really was gorgeous last winter. Thanks for your article. It really was complete in its information.

Lona said...

Great tips. I have to admit mine never bloom again for me for some strange reason. I think my favorite is Picotte.

tami said...

I love amaryllis and grow them every year. I've never had any luck growing them outside though.
The one I've chosen this year is a lovely green/yellow variety

Jean McWeeney said...

I've grown them before and always enjoyed the experience (though I don't remember their names). I'm pretty lazy though, so have never tried to grow them through the year. I need to find a place in my yard where they won't look so out of place, so maybe a large pot is the answer.

Think Floral LLC said...

Once my winter Amaryllis have bloomed I treat them like a house plant until spring and then they are planted outdoors. Once there, they happily live year round in my zone 8 garden. Thanks!

Patty said...

I've only grown Amaryllis a couple of times but have so enjoyed them when I did. Never tried saving them over though. Thanks for the tip about using them as a cut flower, that's something I'd like to try.

Thanks for doing the giveaway and for supporting our Annie Haven. And good luck to everyone!

Julie Thompson-Adolf said...

I aspire to make my amaryllis photos as pretty as yours! I always love seeing your beautiful images, my friend! I haven't used my amaryllis as a cut flower, but now I'm really tempted to do it for my "Floral Friday." We'll see! (You know, I'm laughing about our giveaways--great minds!) :-) Happy weekend!

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I grow amaryllis every winter, but I don't have a favorite. I love to try different ones...and I have never saved them and grown them over the summer...that sounds like something I must try this year. Of course winning one would be great. I have never tried this company so I will look into them...thanks for the giveaway Kylee!!

Will Owen said...

I love amaryllis! I don't generally save them from one year to the next, but you've inspired me to do so. Thank for the helpful hints!

Anonymous said...

Oh I haven't grown an amaryllis in years!
Jennie Brooks

Modern Mia said...

My mother always grew pink amaryllis during the winter. She would set them in the middle of the dining room or kitchen table to bloom, depending on what mood she was in and where she was eating. At Christmas, they were always on the dining room table.

Louise Hartwig said...

I have grown almost every Christmas Season. This year I am trying o0ne encased in wax. No need to water. Will see how this goes.

Jane Rutkowski said...

Like Louise Hartwig above, this year I am trying amaryllis bulbs encased in wax, too. I have NEVER had luck growing amaryllis. I get leaves and no flowers. I saved some bulbs from last season and planted them up for this year. They rotted in the pots. GRRRR! I have friends who just pot them up and leave them on top of a shelf and they bloom their heads off! I SO want some blooming amaryllis for Christmas. I'm hoping my "waxy bulbs" will bloom!

Marissa said...

I've sent a few as gifts, but I've never had one myself.

Tom Mann/@SolakNC said...

We Love Amaryllis and have purchased from Longfield Gardens specifically for them in the past. You're right - their bulbs are huge and never fail to please. Thanks for the chance, and good luck to all!

terri h said...

I have given many away as gifts but have not grown one myself because my cats chew on anything alive and green!

Patsy Bell said...

I grow Amaryllis every winter and often give them as gifts.

Patsy Bell Hobson said...

I grow them every year and often give them as gifts. They they are a burst of color about the time cabin fever hits.

lola bruesch said...

i love these but they do not live for me but i buy one every year maybe this year it will live

Rock rose said...

Sad to say I have never grown an amaryllis so if I win this one it will be the first. Thanks for the opportunity.

Leslie Kuss said...

I just planted a few amaryllis bulbs with my grandchildren last weekend...a fun and easy project! Love those supports you show...I will have to check those out.

Anonymous said...

l have a couple of amaryllis that summer outside and then come in for the winter. They bloom indoors in late winter, just when l need them to!


Beth Lynch said...

A question about growing in the ground. When you dig them up to take inside do you trim the roots? It seems like there would be a huge mass of roots to try to get in a pot. I leave mine in the pots for the summer.

Kylee Baumle said...

Beth ~ Yes, sometimes there are huge root systems, but that's also what allows the bulbs to grow to such an enormous size sometimes. I do trim those way back and it doesn't seem to bother the bulbs at all. In fact, when I first started growing amaryllis, I had a bulb that I bought in one of those box packs and when I got it home, it had NO ROOTS. I was all worried about it and another gardener assured me that it would be fine - that it would grow new roots. That didn't seem right to me, but guess what? It did, and it ended up doing just fine.

Jenny said...

I love amaryllis though I am not nearly as experienced as you are, I have grown them. I think I'll try saving my blooms to try again next year...I've never done that. I just plant them in my garden & leave them there.

I don't know the name of my favorite. It was given to me over 20 years ago by my husband's grandmother(Maw). We always called it a country amaryllis, it's blooms are more like lily blooms than the hot house amaryllis you buy this time of year.

She gave to me an enamel wash pan planted full of bulbs with directions on how to care for them year round. I've divided them many times to share & still grow mine in the same pan. I always time them to bloom in late winter, when I need the blooms the most. Because the pan holds 6 to 8 bulbs I always get at least 12 to 18 blooms sometimes at once & sometimes in succession. They are a pretty peachy orange color & welcome site when it's so cold outside.

Maw was a great letter writer so we always talked alot about our gardens in our letters. I was excited to hear when her amaryllis were blooming & she always asked about mine.

One other thing I do is check the clearance aisles after Christmas for marked down bulbs. I peak inside to look for sprouted bulbs, take them home for more blooms through the late winter.

(sorry so long! such a great give away!)

Yoli said...

Our 15 year Amaryllis shrubs have been slowly dying without a clue until this year. The flower stalks were so weak the flowers fell over. I researched and discovered 'Amaryllis lesion nematodes' and the damage is heartbreaking. No cure at this time is what I have read; however, has anyone read or heard news about a cure or possibly other treatment options?
Thank you kindly for taking the time to read my comment...

Maggie Towson said...

I don't think I've ever grown an amaryllis of my own. My parents have several that they tend year-round and they're really lovely.

Karen said...

I've always wanted to try growing one.

Lara Ruiz said...

As a kid Amaryllis were one of my first plants to grow. Now on my 40's Amaryllis are still in my top 10. The deep red of Red Lion and I think there is another called Belladonna are the 2 I am moat familiar with but I know there are many other options out there, I just don't know if they all grow in or hot desert climate like Red Lion does. A perennial for me Amaryllis open their beautiful blooms around Christmas and I have even had multiple blooms on the same plant. Sadly my daughter accidentally killed mine yesterday when refreshing my garden bed she mutilated the bulb. Alas, Christmas is around the corner and I know they go on sale soon with the added bonus of Moo poo teas and they will be blooming in no time.

RobinL said...

I usually grow one or two, but only casually. I pick up one of the kits sold as Christmas gifts that come complete with soil and pot, because I'm lazy! But I do love them when winter steals all my other flowers.

Unknown said...

I have grow Amaryllis for years and do some in water and others in soil. I usually save them all, even the ones grown in water will rebloom. My family expects that I will give them one as a Christmas gift and I always do!

nicky said...

I've never grown amaryllis and would love to give it a try!

Anonymous said...

I love Amaryllis but don't have any at the moment. They don't seem to thrive in my South Carolina landscape for too long. Thanks for a chance to win this fabulous prize.
Linda B

amy b. said...

I've never grown my own, but my grandma always had them. This would be fun to try with my 10 year old daughter.

Anonymous said...

I have several amaryllis that I have kept over the years. They grow outside in the summer in their pots and then I bring them into the basement in October and back out into the light about this time of the year. They all send up leaves, but only about 50% rebloom. I am going to repot all of them in new soil this year. Posted by Cathi

Rene' Clinger said...

The last time I grew an Amaryllis was in 1984. One of the last pictures we have of our son that died in January 1985 was of him and his brother standing beside the Amaryllis. It's 30 years later, and I think I'd like to try growing one of these beauties again.

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