Growing Amaryllis Bulbs Indoors Can Be Easy, Fun

— Written By and last updated by Diane Lynch

Q:  Can I do anything with an amaryllis after the holiday season?

A: There is a chance that you may have received an amaryllis for Christmas. Often amaryllis bulbs are sold as a gift kit that includes the bulb, soil media, container, and growing directions. An amaryllis’ normal bloom time is in late spring to early summer. However if you receive one of these gifts during Christmas, you can go ahead and plant it because the bulbs being sold for the holiday season have been forced to bloom during the winter. These bulbs have been exposed to a certain amount of cool, dry conditions to trick or force the bulb into blooming during this time of year.

Growing amaryllis bulbs indoors can be an easy, fun way to bring the outdoors inside during the winter months. If you purchase or receive a kit, there are usually directions that can guide you in planting the bulb. Amaryllis bulbs are large but you will only need the container to be slightly larger than the bulb. The container that you use will need holes in the bottom to allow for adequate drainage. Plant the bulb so that about 1/3 of the bulb is above the soil. Place the plant in a well-lighted area that receives a few hours of direct sunlight during the day. An amaryllis will grow and flower best at warmer temperatures in the range of 65° to 75°F. An amaryllis bulb does not like to remain in wet soils for a long period of time, so only water the plant when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Watering once a week will typically be enough water for the plant to grow well.

It will take 3 to 6 weeks to start seeing flowers from your bulb. Once flowering starts, you can fertilize using a liquid or soluble fertilizer. Remove flowers once they fade by cutting the stalk off just above the bulb. Remove leaves only after they have turned yellow and started dying back.

So you have enjoyed growing an amaryllis indoors, now what? An amaryllis can grow outdoors in hardiness zones 7 to 8 or higher. Wayne County is right on the edge of this zone being in a 7B to 8A hardiness zone. An amaryllis bulb can grow outdoors in our area but extra care may need to be given in the winter by applying a thick layer of mulch over the bulbs, especially during a colder-than-normal winter. Some may choose to keep the bulb in a container that can be brought in during cold temperatures to ensure its survival each year.

After your amaryllis stops flowering indoors, keep it in a sunny location until the risk of frost passes. Once the chance of frost has passed, usually mid-April, you can plant the bulb outside. Plant the bulb outdoors the same way you planted it indoors, leaving 1/3 of the bulb above the ground. Mulch around the bulb to control weeds and conserve soil moisture. The bulb will continue to grow and will go back to its regular bloom cycle of blooming in late spring.
Now that the holidays are ending, you can easily continue to enjoy an amaryllis bulb beyond the holidays. An amaryllis bulb can truly be a gift that keeps giving every year.

Upcoming Gardening Events in Wayne County:
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• Beekeeping School on Thursdays, Jan. 3rd to Feb. 7th, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Wayne County Public Library. If you have ever been interested in learning more about honey bees or have wanted to become a beekeeper, this is the training for you! The school is $25. To sign up or for more information, contact the Wayne County N.C. Cooperative Extension Service at 919-731-1525.

• The Beekeeper of The Neuse is a local chapter of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association. The club is open to anyone interested in beekeeping. Their meetings are on the 2nd Monday of each month at 7 p.m. (no December meeting). The January 14th meeting will be at the Wayne County Extension Office in Goldsboro. Contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service at 919-731-1525 for more information.

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Jessica Strickland
Extension Agent
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Wayne County Center
P. O. Box 68
Goldsboro, NC  27533
Phone: 919-731-1525
Fax: 919-731-1511