How to Grow Big, Beautiful Amaryllis

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Blooming amaryllis flower with red striped petals
New amaryllis cultivar, Striped Echo is an exuberant bloomer.

You’ve seen those stunning amaryllis bulbs blooming during the holidays and later, brightening winter windowsills. Discover how to grow big, beautiful amaryllis of your own. It’s remarkably easy.

Start with Hefty Amaryllis Bulbs

The stored energy inside your amaryllis bulb creates the flower display you love. Small bulbs don’t have much energy and are destined to deliver underwhelming displays, with one stem and a few blooms. Or worse,  only foliage. Large bulbs produce multiple stems and more flowers. In this case, more is absolutely better.

Some bulbs – amaryllis among them – actually have immature flowers tucked inside. Because large bulbs have room inside for several flower buds, you can expect more flower stems with bigger flower clusters.  This is part of the stored energy referenced above. The rest is the portion of the bulb’s energy  that produces roots and leaves.

Comparison of amaryllis bulb sizes
Big amaryllis bulbs deliver more flowers, for a dazzling show

Bulbs measuring 28-32 cm around are nice, big bulbs. Shoot for this size. Here’s a visual reference with a regulation size baseball.  If you find ones that are larger, at a decent price, snag them. You’ll congratulate yourself later.

A tennis ball is 21 cm around. An amaryllis bulb the size of a tennis ball is undersized. Avoid it; don’t set yourself up for disappointment. (Big box stores, looking at you . . .)

Note: a few types of amaryllis mature to smaller bulbs. These include Papillio/Butterfly amaryllis (the only oval bulbs in the group) and many of the cybister or spider amaryllis. These typically produce bulbs around 24-26 cm, no matter how well they are grown.

When considering how to grow big, beautiful amaryllis, starting with a big, plump bulb is the number one tip. Bigger bulbs are the cream of the crop, and because of this, tend to cost a few dollars more. And because the results are so superior, you’ll see they’re worth it.

Use Our Planting Guide: Basic Info & Success Tips

Here’s a planting guide that provides all the information you’ll need to get your amaryllis off to a great start. What size pot? How deep to plant? It’s all here: Amaryllis Planting Guide

Amaryllis sprouting on window sill
When your amaryllis is small it doesn’t need much water.

How Much Water Does My Amaryllis Need?

When your amaryllis is first planted, it needs just a nudge of moisture to wake it from dormancy and encourage growth.  Early on, there are no leaves, stems or flowers to support so the plant requires little moisture. Gradually, be more generous with water as the plant develops foliage.

Shoot for soil that’s very lightly moist, never wet. If in doubt, error on the side of too little water.

This is a case where more is not better. Too much water leads to wet soil and rotted bulbs.

What’s the Best Way to Grow Straight Stems?

Trio of potted amaryllis plants growing on windowsill
Turn your pots every couple of days to keep stems growing straight.

Amaryllis stalks tend to grow towards the sun, which can result in curved stems. To limit this, just quarter turn the pot every few days. Easy, peasy.

Should I Fertilize My Amaryllis?

Nope. Everything your amaryllis needs to grow, flower and be gorgeous is tucked inside the bulb. Because of this, we don’t recommend adding fertilizer. No need to complicate things.

If you intend to keep your amaryllis bulb and try to encourage flowering in a year, fertilizer is recommended for that.  Half strength balanced liquid fertilizer ever other time you water is helpful for beefing up your bulb for future flowers.

My Amaryllis is Very Tall; Why Is That?

When growing plants don’t get as much sunlight as they need, the result is often an overly tall, stretched out profile. This is true of amaryllis. While the plant still flowers beautifully in most cases, you’ll probably want to add some support to avoid having the large, weighty blooms tip the plant over. It’s surprising how full and heavy the clusters of large flowers can become.

Amaryllis Foliage: Before, With or After the Flowers

The growth rate of amaryllis foliage varies with variety, cultural conditions and even the individual plant. So don’t worry if your plant’s leaves choose to appear earlier or later than the flowers. Variation is normal. Leaves are needed to gather sunlight and help replenish the bulb should you decide to keep it for next year, but foliage plays no part in this year’s flowering process.

Is it True That Amaryllis Can Be Grow In the Garden?

Peach amaryllis flowers in garden
Spring flowering amaryllis brighten warm region landscapes.

Yes! If you live in Texas, southern California or other places where the soil doesn’t freeze in winter, amaryllis make stellar garden plants. Growing into huge, traffic-stopping multi-bulb clumps, these beauties flower each spring, year after year, with wild abandon. So, for all you warm-weather gardeners, don’t miss the opportunity to include these brilliant landscape plants.

Affording amaryllis bulbs for landscaping

  • Wait until after the holidays. Amaryllis bulbs often go on sale late in the season.
  • Fall in love with classics, rather than the latest introductions. New varieties are often pricier.
  • Be flexible as to variety and when you see a good deal, pounce. Stock is limited late in the season.

Amaryllis bulbs hold well out of the soil for extended periods, if kept in appropriate temperature and humidity settings. So buying from a reputable seller in January through March can be a smart move.

That’s it! You have all the insider tips for how to grow amaryllis plants that are sure to impress.

Need to brush up on amaryllis planting fundamentals, care and tips? Find them here:  Amaryllis Planting Guide

Ready to choose your amaryllis bulbs? Shipping from October through January or February, they’re found here:

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