Ask a local Master Gardener about Amaryllis

  • forcing Amaryllis indoors for the holidays P_PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 11/2/2018 12:31:28 PM

Q:  I am confused about the different types of Amaryllis bulbs. Which kind do I buy so they’ll bloom in time for the winter holidays, and how do I plant them? —M.G. Hadley, MA


A:  I am so glad you asked about Amaryllis, M.G. They are magical! 

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are bulbs that bring a splash of gorgeous color and a hint of nature inside your home during the holidays or anytime during the cold of winter with their dramatic tropical leaves and trumpet-shaped blooms. This is the perfect time to buy and plant them. Amaryllis bulbs are easy to grow, so do not be intimidated by their large size! 

You are correct that there are different kinds. There are South African varieties, such as SymphonySonata, or Sonatini, which are grown in the southern hemisphere and typically bloom 5 to 8 weeks after planting. There are also Netherland or Royal Dutch varieties that are grown in the northern hemisphere and typically bloom 8 to 12 weeks after planting. The varieties differ according to flower size and height, and many colors options are available. 

If you want your bulbs to bloom in time for December holiday celebrations, select the South African ones and plant them now. Both types are lovely; it’s all about the bloom timing you seek. 

 Plant any type of Amaryllis bulb in a well-draining, cozy pot with about 1” of space between the bulb and the pot. They flower better when their roots are pot-bound. 

Use sterile, neutral pH potting soil, and fill the pot so one-third of the bulb is above the soil. Give the bulb one drink of room temperature water around its base.  Avoid getting water in the sprout. Place the pot in direct sunlight at room temperature with good air circulation and normal to low humidity. Avoid cold drafts. Do not water again until green growth appears. Once it starts growing, water evenly and consistently around the base of the bulb. Never mist. Discard any water collected in the saucer under the pot. 

 The pot can be top dressed with decorative stones for a finished look that also helps keep the bulb in place. Alternatively, add twigs and a little green Spanish moss or preserved reindeer moss to the pot to elevate the style and provide any needed support. 

If you want to keep the bulbs for future use, cut off the flower once blooms fade and allow the foliage to continue photosynthesis to fortify the bulb. Enjoy these beauties, M.G, and thanks for asking a master gardener!

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