Your Guide to Amaryllis Care to Help You Make the Holidays Bright

These beloved forced blooms are a perfect addition to your holiday decor.

<p>Petrovval/Getty Images</p>

Petrovval/Getty Images

Amaryllis bulbs are one of the easiest ones to force to bloom in winter. Their gorgeous flowers make a dramatic centerpiece or decor element—whether you opt to place the plant on a sofa table or console or front and center on your dining table. Fortunately, caring for your amaryllis plant is relatively easy—and this is a forced bloom that you can also allow to go dormant and bloom again the following year.

Be careful if you have pets

Amaryllis are toxic to cats and dogs, so you'll want to keep amaryllis plants out of areas where your pets have access, or regift your blooms to a pet-free home.

Ready to get the basics on amaryllis care? Here's how to help it bloom longer and thrive indoors—and how to help it get a second (or tenth) act.

Related: How to Force Bulbs to Brighten Up Your Winter

What Is an Amaryllis?

Amaryllis plants grow from bulbs, producing grand, trumpet-shaped blooms in shades of red and pink, alongside spiky leaves. "Real" amaryllis came from Africa, but most of what you see in stores are actually Hippeastrum, which come from South America.

How to Care for an Amaryllis Plant

Amaryllis bulbs can be planted in dirt, or can grow when placed atop pebbles or marbles in a pot of water—though if you plant the bulb this way, it may not be strong enough to regrow and rebloom (but it will be gorgeous while it lasts!).

The pot you choose should be close to the size of the bulb—amaryllis don't need a lot of room for roots.

Make sure that the pot has plenty of drainage. While amaryllis loves water, leaving the bulb sitting in overly soggy soil or water could promote bulb rot. And you'll want to fertilize the plant regularly with a high phosphorus fertilizer to help your amaryllis thrive.

You'll need to put the amaryllis in a warm spot in your home, with a bright and sunny windowsill to help them thrive.

Once your plant starts to bloom, move it away from direct sunlight to help the flowers last a bit longer.

Consider moving the amaryllis flowers to a vase

Amaryllis flowers can last even longer as a cut flower, so consider cutting them and displaying them in a vase instead. (You'll want to refresh the water regularly to extend the life of your flowers.)

Related: Extend the Life of Your Flowers With These 6 Florist-Approved Secrets

Amaryllis Care After the Bloom

If you want your amaryllis to last beyond a single season, you'll need to follow a few steps to help the bulb conserve energy for a new round of growth.

  1. Remove fading flowers. If you don't, the plant will go to seed and much of its energy will be put toward seed creation.

  2. Move it back to a sunny spot. That allows the plant's leaves to continue producing energy for the bulb and growing.

  3. Cut the rest of the amaryllis flower stalk back when it turns yellow. While it's green, it's still producing energy to store in the bulb.

  4. Follow the amaryllis care program above. Keep fertilizing and watering your plant to promote growth.

  5. Put your plant outside during the summer. The extra sun and warmth can help promote growth.

  6. Let it rest in a cool, dark place to help you time the blooms. Putting the amaryllis plant into a cool, dark place for two to three months in the lead-up to December can help promote new blooms. Bring it out of hibernation about a month to six weeks before you want it to bloom, and begin watering and fertilizing it again.

Caring for Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs

One of the coolest new ways to display amaryllis flowers is coating individual bulbs in wax, and placing them on a base or tray. Amaryllis bulbs treated this way don't need any watering, fertilizing, or other care—so they're a great way to send some blooms to family members who appreciate the beauty but don't want to deal with taking care of the flowers.

In most cases, this is a one-and-done bulb, as the wax keeps the amaryllis bulb from taking root. But some gardeners have had luck carefully removing the wax, placing the bulbs on a tray with a damp paper towel, and planting the bulb in soil once roots begin to form.

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