Amaryllis Bulbs: The Inside Story

— 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.

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Upcoming Wayne County Extension Gardening Programs:
• The Beekeepers of the Neuse bee club will holding its 3rd Annual Spring Beekeeping School starting in January 2014. Three different class times will be offered at the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Office (208 W. Chestnut St., Goldsboro):

1. Tuesdays, January 7th to February 4th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (5 class sessions)
2. Thursdays, January 9th to February 6th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (5 class sessions)
3. Saturdays, January 11th and 25th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (2 class sessions)
The course is for anyone interested in bees, beekeeping, pollination or gardening. Topics will include the background and history of beekeeping, getting started in beekeeping, bee equipment, bee biology and diseases, as well as bee management and pollination. Participants may elect to take the Master Beekeepers level 1 test to become a NC State certified beekeeper. Review for the test will be held for all class participants on Saturday, February 8th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Office.
Class space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. For directions on how to register for classes contact Diane at the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Office at 919-731-1520.

NCSU & NC A&T University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.

Jessica Strickland
Extension Agent
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Wayne County Center
P. O. Box 68
Goldsboro, NC 27533
Phone: 919-731-1520
Fax: 919-731-1511