Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I care for my amaryllis plant?

Whether you're planting an old amaryllis bulb that you saved or a new one you just purchased, planting and care is the same. However, with bulbs you've saved, cut-off the old dried leaves when you replant the bulb. Other than this you can follow these simple instructions for both old and new bulbs.

Plant your bulb in a pot one to two inches larger in diameter than the base of the bulb. Make sure the pot you use has drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the bulb in a well-drained potting mix you have purchased or use one to two parts potting soil to one part sharp sand, perlite, or vermiculite. You might also add a bit of peat moss or compost to the mix. Repot old bulbs in fresh potting soil each year. Plant bulbs so that one half to two thirds of the bulb is above the soil line. After planting, water the bulb thoroughly and put it in a bright, cool room. Keep it away from direct sun. Water only when the soil is fairly dry. Watering too often can cause the roots or bulb to rot. Be especially careful not to overwater in plastic pots. As the roots begin to develop and fill the container, the soil will dry out more quickly and you'll need to water more often. Keep your amaryllis away from cold drafts and hot sun.

Once top growth begins, move the pot to a sunny window. Flowers should appear about six weeks after planting. Rotate the plant everyday or so to prevent it from leaning toward the light too much. If the plant gets too top heavy, you'll have to stake it. To extend the amaryllis flower's life, remove the long pollen-bearing stamens inside the flower with tweezers as they develop. Once the flowers are finished, cut the flower stalk off with a sharp knife several inches above the bulb but do not remove any leaves. Keep your amaryllis in a bright location such as a sunny south or west window and keep the soil moist. Fertilize it once a month with a complete houseplant fertilizer. Keep the plant growing actively in order to build up food reserves in the bulb for next year's flowers. You can keep your amaryllis indoors all year or, if you prefer, you can plant it outdoors in late May in a well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Sink the pot into the ground up to the rim.

Water the plant regularly and continue fertilizing right through summer. If you plant the bulb outside, lift it out of the ground and bring it in before the first frost. Wash the soil from the roots and place it in a cool, dark place like a basement floor and allow the leaves to dry naturally. This starts a resting or dormant stage that most amaryllis bulbs need or benefit from in order to flower again. If your plant has been indoors through the summer, simply take it, pot and all into the basement in early October or before the first frost in fall and lay the pot on it's side. After about two months, remove the dead dried leaves and roots from the bulb and pot it in a clean pot with new soil. Water thoroughly to start the process over again.