The Secret to Keeping Amaryllis Year After Year

Is anything more Christmas-y than an amaryllis in bloom? They’re dramatic, gorgeous, and easy!

What we call amaryllis are members of the amaryllis family called Hippeastrum. True amaryllis, believe it or not, are pretty little pale-pink flowers—Amaryllis Belladonna. The word Amaryllis, in Greek, means “sparkle.” However, “Hippeastrum” has been called amaryllis for so long that I’ll also call them that here.

The Many Members of the Amaryllis Family

We grow many members of the amaryllis family in our yards without even knowing the relationship. Those dainty white snowdrops that decorate our yards in February and March are amaryllis family members, believe it or not. Daffodils, which adorn many a spring for us, are also amaryllis family members. And—surprise, surprise—onions and garlic are amaryllis family members!

Yes, You Can Easily Grow Amaryllis Indoors

Amaryllis are easy to grow and bloom indoors. When you buy the bulb, plant it in a pot about one to one-and-a-half inches bigger than the bulb. They like to be pot-bound.  Leave the top third of the bulb above the soil level. Water well, then wait until the soil is almost dry before watering again. Keep in a very sunny spot. The flower stalks are like “light meters” and will grow toward the light. Full sun will keep the flower stalks shorter and sturdier.

It will begin to grow foliage during or right after the bulb blooms. Do not disturb the leaves when you cut off the spent flower stalk. This would be the time to begin feeding your amaryllis. Keep the pot of leaves watered and in a sunny window until the weather outdoors has warmed up, then move it outside for the summer (usually around the first to the middle of May here).

How to Care for Amaryllis Outside

Outside for the summer, keep them watered when they get dry and fed, and let them grow leaves all summer. To bloom them again, bring them inside in the middle of September and stop watering altogether, then cut the foliage off.

Place the bulb with the pot in a cool, dark, dry place (attic, basement, attached garage) for an 8 to 10 week dormancy. Bring out to a warm, sunny window and begin watering to restart the blooming cycle. I don’t particularly want mine to bloom at Christmas—I want mine to bloom in January or February when I’m so sick of winter I could scream, so I put mine to sleep in mid-October.

Now you can find amaryllis in gift boxes, and they’re fine—treat them as mentioned above. The loose individual bulbs, however, are usually much larger, and the larger the bulbs, the more flowers you get and the bigger the flowers are.

The Secret to Keeping Amaryllis Year After Year

The secret is to feed them after they finish blooming and make sure to put them to sleep for an 8 to 10-week dormancy at the end of the summer. If you do this, you can keep them from year to year and enjoy those huge flowers every year.

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