How to Grow Big, Beautiful Amaryllis

Start with Hefty Amaryllis Bulbs Striped Echo Amaryllis flowers in sunshine

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.

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 get more flower stems with bigger flower clusters. This is part of the stored energy mentioned above. The rest of the bulb's interior is what's responsible for producing roots and leaves.

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

A tennis ball is 21cm 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 24-26cm, no matter how mature.

When considering how to grow big, beautiful amaryllis, starting with a plump robust bulb is the number one tip. Bigger bulbs represent the cream of the crop and because of this they tend to cost a few dollars more. And once you've grown some of the biggies you'll see first-hand that the superior results are worth it.

Reference 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 bulb sprouting on windowsill

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 and so the plant requires little moisture. Be a bit more generous with water as the plant develops foliage. Shoot for soil that’s very lightly moist, not 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.

Should I Fertilize My Amaryllis?

Nope. Everything your amaryllis needs to grow, flower and be gorgeous is tucked inside the bulb. We don't recommend adding fertilizer. No need to complicate things.

Amaryllis trio growing on windowsill

What’s the Best Way to Encourage Straight Stems?

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

My Amaryllis is Very Tall; What's Up with 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 plants still flower 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.

Pink Flowering Amaryllis Pinkollo

Amaryllis Foliage; Before, With or After the Flowers - Why?

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 replenish the bulb for the future, but foliage plays no part in this year's flowering process.

Is It True That Amaryllis Can be Grown In the Garden?

Yes! If you live in Texas, southern California or another place where the soil doesn't freeze in winter, amaryllis make stellar garden plants. Growing into huge, traffic-stopping multi-bulb clumps, these 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.

End of season sales are an excellent way to scoop up enough amaryllis bulbs to make a stunning garden statement, at great prices. These bulbs hold well out of the ground for longer than most, if kept in very cool temperatures and high humidity. (Not on a room-temperature retailer's shelf, where they'll sprout or dry up.) So buying from a reputable bulb seller in January through February or March can be a smart move.

That's it! You have all the insider tips for growing big, beautiful amaryllis that are sure to impress.

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