Why Size Matters for an Amaryllis Bulb

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Amaryllis Bogota blooming in sunny kitchen
Is there anything more welcome than fresh flowers by the kitchen window in winter?

For an amaryllis bulb size matters. Why? Because the bulb is where the amaryllis plant stores its energy (in the form of sugars) for the next season’s growth and blooming.

More energy = bigger/better/more blooms.

And isn’t that what we’re all going for?

Flower bulb growers grade and price their bulbs based on size, similar to the way farmers grade and price eggs.  An amaryllis bulb, is measured in centimeters around the bulb at the widest point, i.e. the circumference.

So is there actually much difference in the stored energy in, say, the 22/24cm and 30/32cm bulbs shown below?  You bet!

While these amaryllis bulbs may look similar, their flower shows will be very different.

Calculating the – stored energy – it looks like this  (we got Google’s help on this one):

22/24cm = 180 to 233 cubic centimeters of volume

30/32 cm = 455 to 552 cubic centimeters of volume

Bulb size helps determine the number of flowers produced.
A large, healthy amaryllis bulb can produce three flower stalks, each with multiple blooms.

Without getting into the weeds on the math, this means that the smaller bulb has less than half the storage space for the fuel needed to grow and flower.

So . . . About Those Flowers?

And what does that mean for those of us who want as many flowers as possible? While there’s some variation based on cultivar, and some of the exotic varieties naturally produce smaller bulbs, here’s what one can typically expect in terms of flower stems and blooms base on amaryllis bulb  size.

22/24 cm – 1 stem (occasionally none), each with 3 to 4 flowers; a bulb this size is too small to consider buying

24/26 cm – 1 stem with 3 to 4 flowers

26/28 cm – 1 stem (occasionally 2), each with 3 to 4 flowers

28/30 cm – 1-2 stems with 3-4 flowers per stem

30/32 cm – 2 stems with 4-6 flowers per stem

32/34 cm – 2 stems (occasionally 3) with 4-6 flowers per stem

Our Advice – Buy Big

For the flashiest, most stunning floral performance, buy the biggest amaryllis bulbs you can afford. You’ll love the results!

And if the budget is a bit tight? Choose varieties that are beautiful but aren’t the latest introductions, as the fresh-from-the-hybridizers’ fields cultivars are often in short supply and a bit pricey. Classics like red Ferrari and pink washed Apple Blossom are well-priced and so pretty.

Then learn how to get your amaryllis to flower year after year here: How to Get Your Amaryllis to Rebloom

By selecting bulbs for a few dazzling amaryllis bulbs each fall/winter season and gradually building up your stock of reblooming beauties, you’ll have all the fresh flowers and brilliant color needed to coast happily from winter through spring.

Find this season’s amaryllis selection of classics and stunning new varieties here: Amaryllis Bulbs

Among the Most Natural of Gifts

Thinking amaryllis for gifts? Find instructions for the world’s easiest and most universally appreciated gift of fresh flower-to-be here: DIY Potted Amaryllis 

This is a guaranteed win, for you as the giver – simple, personal and as sure to please as hot chocolate on a January day – and for the lucky recipient, of course.

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