Growing amaryllis is easy

I like hippeastrum. What are hippeastrum you ask? We know them as amaryllis. When I write that I like them, I mean I’m a hipp-aholic. They brighten my house with their stately blooms before Christmas and after. Growing amaryllis is easy, and I want you to grow them too.

Plus, thanks to Longfield Gardens, I get to give one of my readers a ‘Red Lion’ amaryllis bulb of your very own. If you’re in a hurry and want to bypass the drawing, here’s a link to their bestselling amaryllis. Robin Haglund of Garden Mentors and Kylee Baumle of Our Little Acre are joining me in this fun giveaway. It was actually Robin’s idea.

We’re all sharing our personal experiences growing these easy and fun bulbs. Plus, we’re giving away a three-pack of Annie Haven’s manure tea as fertilizer. If you didn’t win in my last contest, here’s another chance.

A red amaryllis I grew last year.

A red amaryllis I grew last year.

I share a lot on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest about forcing bulbs and corms in winter because I really can’t stand the quiet season. I pretend that I enjoy winter all the way through Advent and Christmas, but once the tree is put away; the carols are sung; and Christ’s birth is celebrated, I become sullen and bored. Frankly, I wish I were a bear and could hibernate until mid-March when at least the crocus are blooming.

And, don’t even talk to me about Valentine’s Day. What a disappointment that is.

Hippeastrum 'Dancing Queen'

Hippeastrum ‘Dancing Queen’

Because winter is so NOT my favorite season, I play around with hyacinths, Iris reticulata, different Narcissus tazetta (paperwhites) and muscari. Plus, this year, I’m also trying to grow Fritillaria meleagris, ranunculus and freesias. We’ll see how those last two go. They have “special requirements.”

H. 'Elvas' (in front) and 'Apple Blossom' (behind)

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) ‘Elvas’ and ‘Apple Blossom’

Today, however, we’re growing amaryllis the easy way. First, we’re not forcing these bulbs to bloom. They are tropical, so they want to grow and bloom for you in your home They truly do. As I wrote above, they are really hippeastrum, but no one except British gardeners, who are good about all things botanical Latin, call them that. William Herbert, who was a British botanist, named them hippeastrum, which means “knight’s star lily” or something along those lines. I can’t find anywhere why, but a lot of amaryllis have star-like blooms. Perhaps, that was his methodology.

Coir in an amaryllis bulb kit isn't worth using in my opinion.

The coir in an amaryllis bulb kit isn’t worth using in my opinion.

As for growing, I think the best way to grow amaryllis is in potting soil. I’ve grown them on pebbles and in water, but soil has the best results. If you buy a kit at the nursery or Target, you’ll get a pot and some coir that must be rehydrated. If you want your plant to bloom again next year, substitute good potting soil. Then, throw that coir onto the compost pile. Although kits are fun, you can save yourself a lot of money putting together your own basket or other container with pretty amaryllis and moss. I use my containers year-after-year.

I seem to be on a completely natural kick this year. Usually, I force some plants in fancy bulb containers, but greenhouse terracotta felt right this winter.

Here’s how to grow amaryllis:

Buy the largest amaryllis bulb you can find. Open the kits and look if you must. Online sources always ship nice, large bulbs.

Buy the largest amaryllis bulb you can find. Open the kits and look if you must. Online sources always ship nice, large bulbs.

Pick the largest bulb you can find, but note that some unusual varieties will be smaller naturally. If you want a unique bulb, you may need to order online, and there is still time to order your own amaryllis. After seeing some white doubles on Pinterest, I bought three ‘White Nymph.’ They are up and growing. I hope they bloom by Christmas, but I have several others that I’m waiting to see after the holidays when I’m bored out of my skull. Cybister-type hippeastrum are especially interesting. One year I grew ‘La Paz.’

Hippeastrum 'La Paz', one of the more unique varieties of amaryllis.

Hippeastrum ‘La Paz’, one of the more unique varieties of amaryllis.

Take the pot and fill it up over halfway with potting soil. Set the bulb down on it gently spreading its roots over the surface of the soil. Then, put soil up to the shoulders of the bulb. Water the soil around the bulb gently. Don’t get water inside the bulb if possible.

Place amaryllis bulb in container and gently spread its roots if possible. Don't worry if the bulb has already sprouted and started to grow.

Place amaryllis bulb in container and gently spread its roots if possible. Don’t worry if the bulb has already sprouted and started to grow.

You can also place pebbles or moss around the bulb to give it a finished look.

Place stones or moss around the bulb to give it a professional look.

Place stones or moss around the bulb to give it a professional look.

Also, build in some support from the beginning. Otherwise, your beautiful flowers will fall over onto the ground. This year, I’m using bamboo sticks and green twine to support mine. I think it looks nice with the moss and stones. Last year, I bought copper amaryllis supports, and I liked them too. Amaryllis grow extremely fast once they get started. However, they can be unpredictable about when they plan to start. That’s why it’s important to like them not just for Christmas.

As they grow, turn them everyday. That way, they will grow straight and tall. If they start to lean toward the light, just turn them again, and they will straighten up. Some people suggest a quarter turn each day, but I don’t have time for that.

Amaryllis in terra cotta pot with bamboo and twine support

Amaryllis in terracotta pot with bamboo and twine support.

Now for the contest. Just comment below and join my subscription list–the button is on the sidebar–and I’ll pick one comment/signup with a random number generator. You can also follow the directions on Robin and Kylee’s posts for two more chances to win. This contest is only open to the continental U.S.A. The contest runs through Midnight November 30, 2014, the first Sunday of Advent. Speaking of Advent, we’ll also be sharing our amaryllis every day showing their growth and bloom throughout the Advent season. Look for them on Pinterest–I made a special Pinterest board–Twitter, Google+ and even maybe Facebook with the hashtag, #AmaryllisAdvent. Please share yours too. Maybe we’ll create an amaryllis movement!

Some of my amaryllis at the warm end of the greenhouse. The gift hippeastrum are in the red pots. I put dark stones on top for decoration.

Some of my amaryllis at the warm end of the greenhouse. The gift hippeastrum are in the red pots. I put dark stones on top for decoration.

Seriously though, I hope you’ll either order a bulb online, or rescue one of those sad boxes from the box stores or your local nursery. Consider, also, giving already-growing amaryllis as gifts–that is–if you can part with them.

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58 comments on “Growing amaryllis is easy

  1. Pingback: Flower Tales-Petunia | Gardens Eye View

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  3. Myra Jean Gavin

    Dee, I’m glad I found your blog! At present, I have several Amaryllis plants in the home. I have posted some photos on my FB page. On my desk is Razzle Dazzle. I decided to plant 2 bulbs in one pot and the result is spectacular. Also I ordered Irish Legend, but the bulbs came up as Double Record. Just beautiful! Joy! Hope to get Irish Legend eventually. I have a few Minerva growing and many others displaying their long strappy leaves which I also think are beautiful. I have 1 Pink Nymph and 1 Double Six in the office also. My Papillio is resting in the living room. I need to purchase 2 more Papillio because I think the display will be even more stunning. Several are growing leaves outside and will probably bloom early in the new year, Red Lion, White Christmas and Orange Sovereign. I love the double flowers, the formation, movement of the buds as they grow and open, the solids and the stripes, the different color throats, the varied heights of the shoots and the different sizes of the flowers. Even the pistil and the stamen are interesting to me. The Double Record has a very interesting fragrance. I don’t like Sphagnum Moss. I used orchid bark, wooden stakes and ribbons to dress up the pots. This post is probably way too long, but I share your love of Amaryllis and again I am glad I found your blog! Peace & Blessings, Myra Jean

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  6. Rene' Clinger

    I haven’t grown an Amaryllis since the winter of 1984. One of the last pictures we have our our little boy who died in Jan, 1985 was of him and his brother standing beside my blooming Amaryllis. It’s been 30 years, and I really do think I’d like to try to grow another Amaryllis.

  7. debra ponte

    I have never seen so many lovely colors in Amaryllis! I have mostly seen reds and white. So gorgeous!Debra/Mass Island

  8. Brenda Jindra

    Dee, I loved your post on amaryllis. Just last night I was reading a delightful article on amaryllis in my rural electric cooperative magazine and suddenly I realized it was written by YOU! How nice! I’m going to put an amaryllis or two on my Christmas wish list this year. Recently I saw some beautiful ones already in bloom at TLC on Northwest Expressway. Their tropical plant display is so cheerful and delightful.

  9. Cathi

    Thanks for the chance at adding another beautiful amaryllis to my collection!

  10. Marie at the Lazy W

    “Hippa-holic” you are so silly!! LOL I too love these, and I appreciate your growing advice, as always. My gosh the color of those apple blossom ones are really nice. Happy Thanksgiving Dee!! Thanks for the giveaway and nudge to force blooms! xoxo

  11. Leslie

    Beautiful!

  12. linda

    I have in the yard amaryllis given to me by my mom years ago. They rebloom every year. I also grow in the house in December but haven’t quite got the knack of getting them to rebloom.

  13. Linda Belcher

    I love this lovely flower, it reminds me of my mom for some reason. Thanks for the chance to win one of these fine bulbs.

  14. Nicky F

    I’ve never grown amaryllis before and would love to give it a try knowing it’s so easy!

  15. indygardener

    I grow Amaryllis every year. Wouldn’t be the holidays without them.

  16. KaTinka Bolding

    I haven’t grown an amaryllis in years but you’ve inspired me to try one this year. I think I get Apple Blossom.

  17. Rose

    Great timing, Dee–I was just looking at the amaryllis sitting in my garage, thinking I need to bring them in soon. I hope they didn’t get too cold already. My problem with amaryllis is getting them to bloom–too often, I have long strappy leaves, but not a single bloom. Do you fertilize yours?

  18. rosebudn6

    i’ve got a couple on my table for thanksgiving. great read.

  19. Maggie

    I love the way you ‘finish’ your pots after planting the bulbs. I’ve never really done this, but it really does make a difference! Amaryllis really are good for lifting spirits. Just lovely!

  20. Susan Staudt

    Your blog always inspires me to try something! I love amaryllis, but never could get them supported well. I’ll see if I can find one of the copper supports. Those look really cool! Thanks for all your inspiration!

  21. Robbie

    Hello, Dee – I follow you on Pinterest but am just now discovering your blog. So nice! After reading , I’m really inspired to try an amaryllis. Or two!

  22. Victoria

    l love amaryllis! Your photos of them are beautiful, varieties that are new to me.

  23. Timothy Burress

    Picked up three amaryllis bulbs at Van Zyverdans couple of weeks ago. Just getting around to planting them this weekend.

  24. Debby West

    I love the extension of indoor gardening in the winter. Growing Amaryllis & bulbs keep my garden hope up & blooming till spring arrives. Thank you for a wonderful article.

  25. Marian St.Clair

    Dee–This is a great post and I love the photo of last year’s red amaryllis backlit by the sun. It glows with the warmth of the season.

    1. Dee Nash

      Thank you Marian very much.

  26. Patsybell

    You have inspired me to grow even more of these colorful giants.

  27. [email protected] Trekker

    Great suggestions to add a little color as winter sets-in. The growing tips-very much appreciated.

  28. Gardener on Sherlock Street

    I like the idea of an amaryllis movement.
    I haven’t grow one for years. My last bulb quite producing blooms for me. I hung on to it for a hand full of years repotting, etc with no luck. Time to get a new one going!

  29. amy b.

    I’ve never grown an amaryllis before, so this would be fun to do with my youngest daughter.

    1. Dee Nash

      It would be a great project for kids Amy because they grow so fast.

  30. Tom Mann

    Always amazed at the new colors and types of Amaryllis that come along over the years. Like Flora above, a couple of ours have been ‘rescue’ bulbs, often after the season. Some make it, some don’t. It’s always fun to try, though. Thanks for the chance at another one, and good luck to all!

  31. nancy

    I’ve never tried any except the solid red. I love the intensity. of the color,especially during the holidays

    1. Dee Nash

      Nancy, try ‘Picotee.’ It’s white and edged in red. Scrumptious and goes so well with the red ones.

  32. Laurin Lindsey

    Timely post my hippestrum came in the mail today : ) I have two Grand Trumpets in Grace Red and one Moondust from Jackson & Perkins. My Mom is coming for Christmas this year…first time since I have moved to Houston 16 years ago. So I am going to pull out all the stops : ) My paperwhites are in their big bowl and just sending up a green bit. To bad the Yuletide camellias bloomed so early, usually they are lovely at Christmas.

    1. Dee Nash

      Laurin, that sounds lovely. I hope you share your photos.

  33. modernmia

    My mom loved amaryllis at Christmas. She always had several pink ones growing on the dining room table.

  34. Linda F

    My mom always had beautiful amaryllis in the winter time. Somehow, I have never really gotten into them even though I am an avid gardener. I’d love to win the Red Lion to give it a try and bring back some wonderful memories of my mom’s green thumb.

    1. Dee Nash

      Linda, I hope you do.

  35. flora roszel

    I “rescue” a couple from the big box stores every year. Always have good luck with them. Love forcing bulbs in winter. Makes me happy.

  36. Wendy Paige

    I love the amaryllis. I did not know it was available in so many different colors. I want to grow some for this holiday season. Thanks for the directions.

  37. [email protected]

    Dee I love when you force bulbs indoors…you inspire me but I missed doing so this year except for amarylli. I like your advice and the staking. I need to do that….of course winning one and some of the manure tea is quite a Christmas gift…great post Dee!

    1. Dee Nash

      Thank you Donna.

  38. Danita

    I haven’t grown amaryllis indoors since moving to Seattle from Texas. I wonder if we get enough sun. Would love to try it.

  39. Will

    I so love amaryllis! Thanks for the easy growing tips. And happy Advent to you!

  40. Debbie

    They grow surprisingly easily from seed. Do you breed them and plant out your seedlings?

  41. Karen at Lady of LaMancha

    Dee, I understand that the drawing is for the continental US, but I’d like to participate anyway. If I were so lucky as to win, it could be sent to my mother in Massachusetts. She’s the one who’s responsable for my love of gardening!

    1. Dee Nash

      Of course you can Karen. That would be a lovely gift if you win.

  42. Curtiss Ann Matlock

    I’m so excited. I think I can do this. Thank you for your great instructions and encouragement! Down here I have amaryllis outside, and the leaves seem to go all winter. I get sporadic blooms. Maybe if I learn to grow them indoors, I can happily get more blooms!

  43. Dan Macey

    This is the first blog I have ever followed. It always brightens my day when I read it. And the photos are gorgeous. I always learn something new. Thanks from a fellow gardener in Texas. Cheers!

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  45. Patty Hicks

    I am in love with “Elvas”…what a beautiful and elegant Amaryllis with those red on white markings. I’ve only grown Amaryllis a couple of times. Last year the two I purchased got so tall I was completely unprepared for it and they ended up as floor plants in the living room, not what I was hoping for. I really liked your little stick and twine support you made, it’s earthy and tidy. I didn’t safe the bulbs from last year so I’m going to have to start over again here.
    Also thanks for the Advent reminder and I love the Pinterest idea. I’ll have to check that one out for sure. =D

    Thank you for helping to support our Annie Haven and for hosting the giveaway. Good luck to everyone!

  46. Cindy, MCOK

    I have yet to order any amaryllis! I should do something about that.

  47. Linda Belcher

    This is such a faithful plant. You will find yourself watching for growth every day. Thanks for a chance to win a great bulb.

  48. Jean

    Dee, as I was reading your post, I started wondering why on earth I haven’t planned to force any bulbs this winter. Now that I’m retired I have the time to enjoy them! I will get right on that, thank you!

  49. Lisa at Greenbow

    I love the fancy color of amarylllis but the box stores always have red. Better than none though. I always forget to order the fancy ones. It is that time of year to get them going. Thanks for the reminder.