How to Plant Amaryllis

Article written by blogger Kylee Baumle from Our Little Acre

Now that Halloween is over and the holidays will be here sooner than we'd wish, it's time to look at the next phases in gardening. One of them focuses on indoor container planting. My very favorite winter houseplant during the winter months is amaryllis, known botanically as Hippeastrum.

The large bulbs can be found now in garden centers, with some of them already potted and started for you. If you've had amaryllis before and saved the bulbs, now is the time to pot them so you'll have blooms in time for the holidays. It takes about six to eight weeks for them to grow enough to produce a flower stalk and bloom.

The proper way to plant an amaryllis bulb is to find a pot that is just a little larger than the size of the bulb; they like to be crowded. Fill the container with potting medium and place the bulb so that it's a little more than halfway covered. Amaryllises don't like to be submerged up to their necks in soil, or there's the danger they'll rot.

Once you have it potted, water it and wait. Don't water it again until you see signs of growth from the top of the bulb. Depending on the type of amaryllis, you may see foliage first or you may see a flower stalk. When you see either peeking up out of the top, continue with a watering schedule where you wait until the potting medium is dry before watering again. This will help avoid bulb rot and will discourage fungus gnats, those tiny black flying insects that houseplants can get.

If you've never tried to keep an amaryllis bulb after it has finished flowering so you can enjoy it again, it's not hard to do. After the flower starts to wilt, cut the stalk just above the bulb and discard. Continue watering until the foliage shows signs of decline. During this post-bloom watering, it's helpful to add a water-soluble fertilizer to help the bulb later when it's forming its next bloom. It's not advisable to fertilize while it's in bloom.

I've kept amaryllises for many years, planting them out in the ground through summer, and then lifting them in fall before frost. They need a six-to eight- week resting period before being potted again for more beautiful blooms.