How To Care For Amaryllis Outdoors

Every holiday season, we find Amaryllis bulbs on sale at local home improvement and garden centers. It’s easy enough to force a potted bulb to bloom indoors, but what should you do with them after the flowers are spent?

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Can You Transplant Potted Amaryllis Bulb Outdoors In The Springtime?

Most types of Amaryllis plants sold to be forced into bloom indoors in the wintertime are Hippeastrum. These are hybrid varieties also called florist or false Amaryllis flower.

These varieties are only winter hardy in USDA hardiness zone 8 and above. If you live in a cooler area, your potted Amaryllis may survive outdoors planted in the landscape, but the flower bulb will probably not bloom again.

What Kind Of Amaryllis Can Grow Well Outdoors?

The hardiest Amaryllis is Hippeastrum x johnsonii, also known as Johnson’s Amaryllis. This variety is very cold-hardy and does well in poor soil.

It produces huge, red, trumpet-shaped flowers atop tall, sturdy flower stalks in the springtime. The flowers are a bit flashy because they sport white stripes.

A South African native, Amaryllis belladonna or Naked Ladies, can grow successfully in the landscape year-round in warmer climates. This variety is popular on the US west coast.

Naked Ladies produce a flower stalk with clusters of funnel-shaped blooms in shades of white, pink, peach, and purple in the springtime.

How Do You Take Care of Amaryllis Bulbs Outdoors?

Plant At The Right Time

  • Plant waxed Amaryllis bulbs in the autumn, as you would other spring-blooming bulbs.
  • Plant potted Amaryllis in the springtime after all danger of frost passes. When growing Amaryllis outdoor make sure to acclimate them gradually from indoors to out.

Consider A Bright Sunny Spot And Spacing

  • For healthy growth plant Amaryllis bulbs at least a foot apart with about a third of the bulb exposed above the soil surface.
  • Plant Amaryllis in garden beds or you can scatter them and naturalize them throughout your landscape. Just be sure that they have light, well-draining soil, in a sunny location with plenty of direct sunlight.
  • Amaryllis can tolerate partial shade or high shade, but they may not bloom as well with less light.

Provide The Right Kind Of Well-Drained Potting Soil.

  • Amend the soil mix for Amaryllis with plenty of rich, organic matter.
  • Add a couple of inches of organic mulch around the bulbs. This will help them conserve water during the growing season and protect the bulbs from cold during the winter.

Water The Right Amount.

  • Keep the bulbs well-watered until they have become established. Then water as you would wildflowers with occasional deep watering.

Fertilize Sparingly

  • During the first year, Amaryllis plant bulbs should get all their nutrition from well-amended potting mix.
  • After that, fertilize early in the springtime with bone meal for plants or a bloom booster fertilizer. You can also fertilize mid-summer again if you wish.

Prune For Tidiness

  • After your Amaryllis have finished blooming, trim away the flower stalks. The foliage will remain vibrant through the summer.

Propagate Through Division

  • Amaryllis bulbs multiply and spread once established. 
  • Divide mother bulbs every couple of years to promote more blooms and healthier plants.

Questions On Growing Amaryllis Outdoors

Can I Transplant or Move My Amaryllis Bulbs?

I have two clumps of hardy amaryllis. The first year they were full of bloom, but last year all they showed was healthy foliage. Should I move them to another location? – ML Ludwick (Pennsylvania)

Do not transplant the hardy amaryllis. Once established it will bloom again. It is not uncommon for this bulb to skip year in blooming.

Hardy Amaryllis?

Is there an amaryllis that is hardy outdoors? – F Bringuet (Illinois)

You are probably thinking of Lycoris squamigera (the Surprise Lily). I came to American from Japan in 1898. It is hardy outdoors when given winter protection. The flowers, which are a rose-lilac and borne in an umbel, appear in August.

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