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Holiday Tradition: Force Amaryllis Bulbs to Bloom

Holiday Tradition: Force Amaryllis Bulbs to Bloom
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Add a little color and beauty to your surroundings this winter by forcing amaryllis bulbs to bloom. A holiday tradition and stunning centerpiece, amaryllis flowers come in fiery red, creamy white and pink. The pink flowers are a cross between red and white plants and sometimes bloom with faint red and white streaks or blotches, that can add visual interest.

Amaryllis Flower

Choose the area you wish to display your amaryllis plant ahead of time and go with the flower color that will look best with the colors and tones of the room before purchasing bulbs. You may want to choose a display container ahead of time as well, although a simple plant pot or decorative vase will work just fine.

Supplies to force amaryllis bulbs to bloom indoors.

Amaryllis Bulb Supplies

Amaryllis bulb or bulbs
A decorative or festive pot or vase slightly larger than the grouping of bulbs
Potting mix
Drainage pebbles
Wooden stake for support

Instructions to Force Amaryllis Bulbs to Bloom

1. Choose healthy bulbs. Bulbs that are firm and still have some roots at the base are the best choice. Avoid withered, wrinkled and spongy bulbs. Florists and garden centers sell bulbs individually and department stores sell amaryllis kits with all the supplies included for growing in a box priced at around $6.99. Note: you may not be able to inspect the bulbs in the kits if the boxes are sealed.

Bulbs that are firm and still have some roots at the base are the best choice. Amaryllis bulbs that are firm and still have some roots at the base are the best choice.

2. Line a plant pot or vase with up to two inches of drainage rocks, then fill the container half way with potting mix.

3. Place the bulbs roots down into the soil. Loosely cover the bulbs with a bit more soil, leaving the tops of the bulbs exposed.

Loosely cover the bulbs with a bit more soil, leaving the tops of the bulbs exposed Loosely cover the bulbs with a bit more soil, leaving the tops of the bulbs exposed

4. Insert a support stick in the container along side the bulb. The flowers of the amaryllis are top heavy and it is best to have the support in place before the plant flowers.

5. Water enough to keep the soil moist.

6. Place the pot in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist, but not wet.

Maintenance for Amaryllis Bulbs

Group amaryllis with other flowering plants.

In approximately two weeks, the stalks of the bulbs will begin to grow. Flower buds will follow. Turn the pot every few days to allow for even light exposure on all sides of the plant. Once the flowers bloom, they will remain beautiful and fresh for up to two weeks. When the blooms have passed their peak, cut the plant back to just above the bulb. Keep the soil moist and plant outside if desired after the danger of a frost in the spring. Soon your amaryllis will once again bloom for you to enjoy. Dig up the bulbs in September and store in a cool dry place until the next holiday season when you can start the cycle all over again.

Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley (Fleming) Wigglesworth is an award-winning freelance journalist from Maine specializing in maritime topics and the commercial fishing industry. She is also a certified Maine Master Gardener who writes gardening articles on a regular basis for Yankee Magazine. Her work can be found in the following publications: The York County Coast Star, Portsmouth Herald, Bangor Daily News, Yankee Magazine (online), National Fisherman Magazine, Commercial Fisheries News, Tourist News, Points East Magazine, Coastal Angler and The Maine Lobstermen's Association’s “Landings.” Follow Shelley on Facebook.
Updated Monday, November 28th, 2011

4 Responses to Holiday Tradition: Force Amaryllis Bulbs to Bloom

  1. trudy de groot December 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I saved my amaryllis bulb from last winter. It is now green, but not putting up any shoots or growth. What should I do? Thanks.

    • Sean Condon December 28, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      You should get leaves no matter what, but you may not get a flower if the bulb wasn’t able to store enough energy last year for this season. I recommend not cutting the leaves back until at least a few weeks after the bloom is gone, to allow the bulb to store energy for the next season. Good luck.

  2. Rita McDonough December 29, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    After danger of spring frost, put plants outdoors for the summer. Before first autumn frost, allow plant to completely dry out. Cut back leaves and place potted bulb in a box in a cool location. After the holidays, take plant out of box, water and place in a good location for growth. This method works for me year after year–good luck!

  3. Judy Phillips October 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    I got a amaryllis bulb for Christmas last year. I planted it on my yard. It is putting on green leaves. What do I do now? leave it ? will it bloom? or dig it up and bring in the house? it is late October
    and I am in south Alabama.

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