AMES, Iowa – It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is almost here. One of the best parts of the season is enjoying colorful seasonal holiday plants like amaryllis. What is the best way to force amaryllis indoors? When do they need to be prepared with the holidays in mind?
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists can help answer questions about the best way to force and prepare amaryllis indoors.
What types of amaryllis are available for forcing indoors?
Amaryllis are available in a wide range of colors. Flower colors include red, pink, orange, salmon, white and bicolors. Single-flowering, double-flowering and miniature amaryllis cultivars are available.
Excellent single-blooming cultivars include ‘Apple Blossom’ (white with pink feathering), ‘Blushing Bride’ (rose-pink), ‘Christmas Gift’ (white with green throat), ‘Merry Christmas’ (bright red), ‘Minerva’ (red with white star), ‘Naranja’ (red-orange), ‘Picotee’ (white with red-rimmed petals), ‘Orange Sovereign’ (orange), ‘Red Lion’ (crimson red), and ‘Wedding Dance’ (pure white with pale green throat).
Double-flowering cultivars include ‘Aphrodite’ (white with pinkish red feathering), ‘Blossom Peacock’ (rose-red with white throat and midrib), ‘Dancing Queen’ (red and white striped), ‘Inferno’ (dark red), and ‘White Nymph’ (white).
Miniature cultivars are only slightly shorter than their single- and double-flowering counterparts. However, their flowers are about half the width of the large flowering types. Excellent miniature cultivars include ‘Baby Star’ (crimson red with white center star), ‘Fairytale’ (white with raspberry red stripes), ‘Green Goddess’ (white with green center), and ‘Neon’ (fuchsia pink with white throat).
How do I pot up an amaryllis bulb?
When planting an amaryllis bulb, select a pot that is approximately 1 to 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. The container may be clay, ceramic or plastic, but should have drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the bulb in a well-drained potting mix. Place a small amount of potting mix in the bottom of the pot. Center the bulb in the middle of the pot. Then add additional potting mix, firming it around the roots and bulb. When finished potting, the upper one-half of the bulb should remain above the soil surface. Also, leave about 1 inch between the soil surface and the pot’s rim. Then water thoroughly and place in a warm (70 to 75 F) location.
After the initial watering, water just enough to keep the potting mix barely moist. When growth appears, move the plant to a sunny window and water more frequently. During flower stalk elongation, turn the pot daily to keep the flower stalk growing straight. Stake flower stalks that lean badly.
When the amaryllis begins to bloom, move the plant to a slightly cooler (65 to 70 F) location that doesn’t receive direct sun to prolong the life of the flowers.
South African-grown amaryllis bulbs typically bloom four to six weeks after potting. Cultivars commonly grown in South Africa include ‘Blushing Bride,’ ‘Merry Christmas,’ and ‘Wedding Dance.’ Dutch-grown amaryllis bulbs typically bloom six to eight weeks after potting. Cultivars commonly grown in the Netherlands include ‘Aphrodite,’ ‘Apple Blossom,’ ‘Baby Star,’ ‘Dancing Queen,’ ‘Minerva,’ ‘Naranja,’ ‘Picotee,’ and ‘Red Lion.’