Gardens Illustrated
Hippeastrum 'Merengue'

Alys Fowler's tips for planting amaryllis bulbs

Published: February 24, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Alys Fowler shares six tips for planting amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs indoors.

Bulbs don't get much more exotic than amaryllis (Hippeastrum), which can be planted indoors between October and April for flowers from late December to June, flowering around eight weeks after planting. 

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Alys Fowler's advice on planting amaryllis bulbs

1

Buy the largest bulbs you can afford

Buy the largest bulbs you can as these produce the biggest blooms. The best amaryllis bulbs are plump and feel heavy and dry. There should be no signs of mould or rot, particularly around the neck of the bulb. The fleshy roots can be soaked for several hours in water; balancing the bulb on a jam jar of warm water is easiest, but make sure the base of the bulb doesn’t get wet.

2

Crowd bulbs together

Ideally, plant your amaryllis in a pot that’s only an inch or two wider than the bulb, but deep enough for the roots. You can make a stunning centrepiece by planting several bulbs close together.

3

Improve drainage

Alys' tips on growing hippeastrum

Use grit or sand to improve drainage in your potting compost. As it's heavier than perlite, grit or sand, grit makes the pot less likely to fall over when the plant has reached its full height. Mix at least one part grit or sand to two parts bulb compost or good quality multipurpose compost.

4

Don't submerge the whole bulb

A planted hippeastrum bulb and soil in a terracotta pot

Plant the bulb with its shoulders proud of the soil: two thirds below, one third above. This makes the hippeastrum bulbs less prone to rot. Top-dress with grit as this deters compost flies and draws water away from the amaryllis bulb. Water in well.

5

Adjust your watering regime

More amaryllis bulbs are killed by over-watering then anything else. Be patient; it can take time for growth to appear, but on no account water them again after planting. Only start watering when the shoots begin to emerge. Add a liquid fertilizer to your watering can. Keep the water away from the crown, as this is prone to rot. Never water more than once a week; give the bulbs a soak, then no more until the pot is dry. Water from the top, not the bottom.

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6

Keep at the right temperature

If it’s too warm and dark you'll get a long, floppy stem. The ideal temperature is 22°C. Once the bloom is out, it will last longer if you move the plant to a cooler room.

Hippeastrum 'Merengue'
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