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There is something so uniquely special about seasonal flowers.
I know that we tend to think about flowers and flower gardens as strictly a summer thing- but I truly believe that in nature, every month of the year, there is something beautiful blooming.
Even though right now, as I’m writing this blog post- it’s the middle of winter and we sort of seem stuck in these gloomy, dull days – that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy fresh flowers. And one of my absolute favorite winter flowers is the amaryllis.
Today, I thought I’d share some tried-and-true tips to blooming stunning amaryllis flowers in your own homes.
Amaryllis Bulb Selection
When you’re looking for amaryllis bulbs to buy there are some things you’re going to want to look out for:
The first being size.
Amaryllis bulbs are sold according to the circumference of the bulb- and that measurement is generally given in centimeters.
While all amaryllis bulbs are beautiful, it can be to your advantage to buy larger bulbs.
Understand that because all the energy a bulb requires to flower is stored directly in the bulb itself, a bigger bulb, with more energy reserves will produce a bigger plant with a more impressive display of flowers.
Especially since amaryllis bulbs can be saved and rebloomed year after year, I personally think it’s worth it to invest in a bigger amaryllis bulb even if it means you have to spend a little more money.
When I’m looking to purchase amaryllis bulbs, I’m looking for jumbo bulbs that measure between 34 to 36 centimeters. You can sometimes find jumbo amaryllis bulbs as large as 36 to 38 centimeters. These bulbs will likely send up 3 to 4 stems throughout the season and each stem will have as many as 4 to 6 flowers per stem- a significant difference from a smaller, less mature amaryllis bulb.
Your best bet for sourcing jumbo bulbs is often your local greenhouse or nursery store. For retail customers, I encourage you to follow us on social (@twosistersflowerfarm) and check back here on our site come fall, as we stock a large selection of jumbo amaryllis bulbs as part of our annual Holiday Market (and yes, we do ship within the U.S during that time!).
Other Considerations When Selecting Amaryllis Bulbs
Some other things to note when buying bulbs- you’ll sometimes, though not always see a country of origin labeled somewhere on your bulb or bulb packaging and this can often be an indicator of bloom time.
Most often you’ll find bulbs that are either from Peru in the Southern Hemisphere or they are Dutch bulbs that originate from Holland.
That country of origin can affect the bloom time of your amaryllis in its first year of growing; Remember amaryllis are naturally warm season flowers, and in nature, they tend to bloom in the spring or summer.
When it’s winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s actually summer in Peru so that Peruvian amaryllis bulb that you receive around the holidays has been in holding and is naturally ready to bloom with the calendar. These southern hemisphere bulbs have the tendency to “wake-up” and bloom more quickly. For this reason, Southern Hemisphere bulbs are often called “Christmas Flowering” bulbs which simply highlights the fact that they’re typically very easy to force in time for the holidays.
Now again when it’s winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is also wintertime in Holland so Dutch bulbs tend to arrive to us dormant and require just a bit more time to “wake up” and bloom.
If you pot up your Dutch amaryllis bulbs early enough, you may still be able to force it in time for the holidays, but I much prefer to buy Dutch bulbs in more non-traditional holiday colors. Think whites, pinks and even some soft peach varieties- these make for a great winter display even after the holidays are over.
Potting Up Your Amaryllis Bulb:
Generally speaking, your amaryllis bulb arrives ready-to go, it’s not going to need any special treatment. Unlike tulip bulbs that require a cold treatment, amaryllis are pretty straightforward which is really what makes them perfect for anyone to grow.
Step 1: Choose Your Container
You can grow your amaryllis bulb in just about any container: it can be large or small, it can be a container with or without drainage holes, and you can even choose to grow your bulb with or without soil.
The great thing about potting up amaryllis is that you can really make this project your own.
One thing I will say is that amaryllis are one of the few bulbs that really don’t mind being pot bound, so don’t feel like just because you have a large bulb that you need a large container. Often the containers I use for my amaryllis are just just 6-8 inches wide- the exception being containers where I’m blooming more than one bulb at a time.
If you decide to use a container without drainage holes, I do recommend that you use activated carbon as you’re potting up your bulb.
What this is is just carbon in small pellet form that acts as a filter to minimize any odor that may result from not having drain holes on your pot. I simply sprinkle a little on the bottom of my container before adding anything else.
Step 2: Fill Your Container
Next up, you’re going to fill the container about halfway with moist potting soil. Any potting soil will really do for this project- just be certain that its something drains rather easily.
Once I have my soil in place, I’m simply going to press my amaryllis bulb gently into the soil.
After placing my bulb, I will add more soil on top to secure the bulb in place. I encourage you to not cover the bulb entirely though, I leave the top third of my amaryllis bulb exposed.
Then, once you’ve finished with the soil, all that’s left to do is give your bulb a good drink. I want to emphasize here to be cautious with how much water you use- especially if you’re using a container that doesn’t drain. Too much water can be problematic as it can often lead to rot. I often only use a quarter or half cup of water to get my bulb good and settled in.
Step 3: Add Flair to Your Container Display
At this point you could really consider your amaryllis potted up + it’s ready to be placed in a warm location within your home so it can begin the growing process.
One thing I always enjoy, however, is taking this potted amaryllis one step further and top dressing it to give the display some added flair.
There’s all sorts of decorations you could use to top off your bulbs. I love using reindeer moss to top dress my amaryllis displays because I love its bright, vibrant color. You can easily find moss at your local craft store, but I’ll link one of my favorites here for you as well.
If you don’t like the look of moss, you could decorate with pinecones, or a mixture of fresh evergreens or you can simply keep it as is too- that’s always an option.
Step 4: Watch Your Amaryllis Grow
Once you’re finished you’re going to want to make sure that you keep your amaryllis in a warm spot in your home. On your kitchen counter will work fine; or on your mantle.
Amaryllis are happiest in 70 – 80 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. If your house is like mine and isn’t that warm in the winter, consider placing your pot on top of a warm appliance- like I said maybe on top a mantle or even by a sunny window.
Over time you’ll start to see stems emerge from your amaryllis bulb.
Be patient, it can sometimes take a few weeks before the bulb begins to grow.
You’ll need to water your bulb as it works to produce flowers- but really, it doesn’t take much to keep your amaryllis happy. I recommend that you water only when the top inch of soil is dry. Watering too often, especially early on, when you have very little stem growth- that can cause your bulb to rot.
For me, I’ll usually stick my finger in the soil of my pot- if it’s dry beyond my first knuckle, I’ll give my amaryllis a half cup to a cup of water.
And that’s honestly the extent of care needed to keep your amaryllis bulb alive and happy!
Now we’re going to let your amaryllis bulb grow for a few weeks- but be sure to check back here in a couple of weeks. I’ll come back here with another post showing you how to care for your amaryllis as it flowers. And don’t worry, I’ll also share with you everything that you need to know in order to save and rebloom your bulb next year, so you’re going to want to stick around for that.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy watching your amaryllis as it puts on growth. For me, bringing a bit of nature indoors during the dull days of winter- well, that’s one of my favorite ways to cozy up my home!
P.S. Did you know we have an entire YouTube video dedicated to growing beautiful amaryllis bulbs? For more information, you can check that video out here!