The magnificent, star–shaped flowers always set the mood for Christmas. We look at what to consider in when it comes to amaryllis care.
The various species of amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are also known as larkspur. Botanically, they are classified in the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae). The name amaryllis for the red, white or pink flowering and bulb–forming plants known to us is not quite correct. In fact, earlier they were assigned to the genus Amaryllis. However, this is now reserved for a single species. It is easy to determine whether it is a true amaryllis or a hippeastrum (meaning “knight’s star”), which is often found in this country: The cultivars first form their magnificent flowers, and only then the elongated leaves. True amaryllis, on the other hand, blooms only after the prior formation of leaves. Nevertheless, the widespread Hippeastrum species are usually referred to as amaryllis. Find out here how to care for amaryllis and get it to bloom reliably.
Buying amaryllis: In a pot or bulb
Amaryllis are available in two different options. Either choose the amaryllis in a pot, pre–cultivated by the gardener. Here you can often see a bulb already sprouting. However, you can buy the loose bulb of amaryllis and plant it yourself in a pot.
Short and concise summary of what to consider when buying amaryllis in a pot or as a loose bulb:
Buying amaryllis in pot
- Healthy appearance
- Substrate not too moist, as waterlogging can be fatal for the bulb
- Strong bud, because the thicker the bud, the more flowers are likely to be formed
- If necessary, protect against excessively low temperatures during transport – even just below 10 °C can because problems
Buying amaryllis as a bulb
- Loose bulb can be planted from October to December.
- Do not choose a pot that is too large – there should only be 1 to 2 cm between the bulb and the edge of the pot on all sides.
- As a substrate, a commercial potting soil based on compost or peat with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is suitable.
- Cover the bottom half to two–thirds of the bulb in the pot with soil.
- Leave top third to half of bulb peeking out of soil.
- After planting, water lightly so that the substrate settles a little.
- To sprout the bulb, place it in a warm position (room temperature around 20 ° C).
Amaryllis care: growth cycles
What care is best for the amaryllis, and when? This essentially depends on which phase the amaryllis is currently in. After all, the amaryllis plant is a perennial, and its life cycle does not end with the completion of flowering in February.
The following stages determine the life and needs of an amaryllis:
- Blooming time from December to February
- Growth from March to August
- Dormant period August to December
This article focuses exclusively on the preferences of amaryllis during flowering. If you do not want the plant to die off after flowering and have it bloom for another few years, you can read how to again coax the impressive flowers from the bulb in this article on caring for amaryllis after flowering.
Amaryllis: care during the flowering period
In order for the amaryllis to feel comfortable and for it to bloom as gloriously as possible, you need to consider a few things for optimal care.
The right location
The right place for a flowering amaryllis is the house. It does not even matter whether this place is flooded with light and located on the windowsill of a bright window, or on a dresser in a somewhat darker place in the hallway. What matters is that it is at room temperature (around 20 °C). Therefore, care should be taken when ventilating during the cold season to let fresh air into the house: the amaryllis should always be removed from the path of frosty–fresh air to avoid cold damage.
The right temperature
Amaryllis is very sensitive to cold. Consequently, temperatures in their environment should not be below 15 °C. But different temperatures can be useful at different points in the cultivation of amaryllis.
If the amaryllis is still in the bud stage and needs further stimulation until it blooms, temperatures of around 20 °C will accelerate this process. This can shorten the time to the appearance of the flower.
If the amaryllis is already showing its impressive flowers, you want to keep it alive as long as possible. Somewhat lower temperatures between 15 and 20 °C are ideal for this.
Properly watering and fertilising flowering amaryllis
When watering the flowering amaryllis, less is definitely more! The water requirement is quite low, and the substrate can quickly become waterlogged. Since the bulb tends to become mouldy quite quickly in waterlogged conditions, a small amount of water should be administered only when the substrate visibly begins to dry out. It is best to put the water in the pot saucer or trivet. This prevents water from getting directly on the bulb and causing mould.
During flowering amaryllis does not require fertilising. The supply is ensured by the nutrient–storing bulb. If the amaryllis is well supplied with nutrients during its growth phase in spring and summer, it can still feed on them during flowering. Accordingly, between April and August it should be fertilised regularly. For optimal nutrient supply, we recommend a liquid fertiliser such as our Plantura Liquid Flower Food, which is simply administered in the watering water.
The correct care of a flowering amaryllis at a glance
- Warm location, does not necessarily have to be bright.
- The growth phase should be slightly warmer than during flowering to shorten time to flowering and extend flowering duration.
- Protect from temperatures below 15 °C (draughts, during transport).
- Only water slightly when the substrate dries out to avoid waterlogging.
- Fertilise between April and August.
Amaryllis: life after flowering
If the amaryllis has faded, this does not mean it is all over for it. With relatively little care, it can easily be brought to flower the next winter. Following flowering, the faded inflorescences are cut off. If there is no longer a threat of frost, the amaryllis plant can even be planted out in the bed. The main growing season runs until August, when the amaryllis needs the most water and nutrients. Therefore, it must then be fertilised regularly (every one to two weeks).
From the end of August, the dormant season begins. Fertiliser applications are discontinued and watering is reduced. After the foliage has dried up, it is cut off. Finally, the bulb must be protected from the first early frosts. It is thereforereplanted in fresh substrate in a pot and put in a cool place for 10 to 12 weeks. Then, from December, the process starts over again, and the amaryllis is placed indoors in a warm place. The growth phase has begun and after a few weeks the first flowers will be seen.
If one amaryllis is not enough for you, you can propagate it in several ways. Here you will find all the information you need to propagate the amaryllis.