During the dark days of winter, a blooming amaryllis provides a welcome burst of color. These subtropical bulbs are hardy outdoors in only a small portion of the country, but all gardeners can enjoy these beauties as houseplants.
Each amaryllis bulb produces one or two tall flower stalks topped with two or four huge trumpet-shaped flowers. Flower colors include white, pink, rose, salmon, red, and many bicolors. Bright green, straplike leaves emerge from the bulb about the same time as the flower stalk and persist until the dormant period.
Common name: Amaryllis
Botanical name: Hippeastrum hybrids
Plant type: flowering bulb
Zones: Outdoors: 10 to 11. Indoor containers: all zones
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Family: Amaryllidaceae, amaryllis family
- Sun: Outdoors: full sun or partial shade. Indoors: bright or bright filtered light
- Soil: Soil should be well drained. Pot amaryllis bulbs in soilless potting mix, leaving the top third of the bulb above the soil.
- Moisture: Water evenly during the growing season, reducing and finally withholding water for a two-month dormant period in the fall.
- Mulch: In containers: none. Outdoors: none, or 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch
- Pruning: Remove faded flowers. Cut off flower stalk when it starts to wither.
- Fertilizer: After flowering, fertilize at least once a month until dormancy.
- Remove small offset bulbs and pot them separately. They'll bloom after several years of growth.
- Sow seeds in soilless media. Keep temperature at about 60ºF to 65ºF. Plant seedlings individually.
Pests and Diseases
Generally free of insect and disease problems, though fungal and bacterial root rots can occur in poorly drained soils. Leaf spots also occur occasionally.
- To get your amaryllis to rebloom, bring the pot outdoors in spring (after danger of frost has passed) and keep it in a sunny spot during the growing season. Bring pots back inside before frost, place in a cool area, and withhold water for two months. The plant will grow again once you move it to a warm area and water it.
- If tall flower stalks flop over, loosely tie them to thin metal or bamboo stakes.
- Surround potted amaryllis with other flowering and foliage houseplants to create a lovely focal point and make the flower stalks look less lanky.
- Amaryllis make lovely cut flowers in holiday arrangements. They last three to seven days if placed in water with floral food and kept in a cool area.
- ‘Apple Blossom' – pale pink and white flowers
- ‘Amourette' – miniature with pink and white flowers
- ‘Carnival' – red- and white-striped flowers
- ‘Green Goddess' – miniature with green-throated white flowers
- ‘Lady Jane' – double apricot and white flowers
- ‘Lemon & Lime' – pale greenish yellow flowers
- ‘Liberty' – deep red flowers
- ‘Orange Sovereign' – orange flowers
- ‘Picotee' – white with red petal margins
- ‘Red Peacock' – double bright red flowers
- ‘Rilona' – peach-salmon flowers
- ‘Scarlet Baby' – miniature with bright red-orange flowers (pictured here)
All in the family
- Though amaryllis is used as the common name for the genus Hippeastrum, there is a genus Amaryllis that has just one species, A. belladonna. The flowers of this bulb look quite similar to those of Hippeastrum.
- Other members of the amaryllis family include the flowering houseplant Clivia and flowering bulbs like snowdrops (Galanthus) and daffodils (Narcissus).
Text by Nancy Rose, photo of ‘Scarlet Baby' courtesy of Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center