Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are a great way to bring some magnificent color indoors during the gray winter months. Although they naturally bloom in the Spring, many are ‘forced’ to bloom around the holidays, making them popular holiday plants with their large, showy, log-lasting blooms. Their distinctive lily-like blossoms sit, often in clusters of up to four or five, atop the long thick stalks that emerge from the bulb.
These bulbs are easily grown indoors in a container. To grow an amaryllis in a container, plant the bulb in well-drained soil and leave the top one third of the bulb exposed. Place in a bright area with temperatures about 70F. Once foliage emerges, water regularly. Avoid over-watering to avoid root rot. When the bulb begins to bloom, you may find that the flower-heavy stalks need support. Use a slender bamboo stake and a plant-tie to keep the flower stalks upright.
After flowering has ceased, cut off the flower stalk. If the container has drainage, you can leave the bulb in this pot for years to come. If it does not have drainage, transplant it with fresh soil into a pot that allows drainage. Be sure to leave the top third of the bulb exposed. Large strap-like leave will push up out of the bulb. Keep the plant in a warm well-lit location, fertilizing every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer to help the bulb store nutrients for next year’s blooms. Water it often enough to keep the leaves from wilting or turning brown along the edges
In mid-August, stop feeding and cut watering back to significantly. In September, stop watering completely. Once the leaves have wilted and turned yellow, cut them off and move the bulb to a cool dark area, between 40-50 degrees, and forget about it for the next two months.
After two months have passed, water your Amaryllis once and wait for some green to appear. Once signs of life are apparent, move the bulb back into a warm light location and let the magic begin all over again!
Originally published on December 26th, 2011. Updated on December 3rd, 2020.