Growing Amaryllis

Try your hand at growing hardy amaryllis bulbs.
Hippeastrum x johnsonii  (02) Bloom

Hippeastrum x johnsonii (02) Bloom

Hippeastrum x johnsonii

Hippeastrum x johnsonii

Discover the rich rewards of growing amaryllis in your landscape. The hardy amaryllis bulbs bring reliable, low-maintenance beauty to any planting. These amaryllis bulbs open the classic trumpet shape flowers like their houseplant cousins sold during the holiday season, but they do so in the garden. Growing amaryllis isn’t possible in every zone, but these hardy types survive winters in Zone 6 and warmer.  

Amaryllis growing is truly a plant-it-and-forget-it effort. Like many bulbs, amaryllis are self-perpetuating and self-sustaining in large part. Hardy amaryllis don’t typically need staking. They offer shorter stems that are sturdy and don’t require support except in a windy setting. St. Joseph’s lily (Hippeastrum x johnsonii) is a common hardy amaryllis bulb with flowers that grow 2 feet tall—tall enough to stand out above leaves, but short enough not to need staking.  

Growing amaryllis starts with planting. Choose a site that offers full sun to part shade. In warmest regions, protection from hot afternoon sun is ideal. Planting amaryllis bulbs beneath high-canopied trees that produce a bright shade is an ideal setting in most southern gardens.  

These amaryllis bulbs thrive on nutrient-rich soil. If you can work composted manure into soil prior to planting, do so. You can also add other organic matter, such as compost, into planting areas. Organic matter also helps improve drainage in heavy clay soils. Growing amaryllis in clay soils is completely feasible in Southern gardens. The thing to watch out for is winter drainage. Most hardy amaryllis bulbs don’t fare well in soils that drain poorly in winter.  

When growing amaryllis in the landscape, incorporate them into foundation plantings or along walkways. The bright flowers of these amaryllis appear in late spring. These blossoms sparkle when planted against a backdrop of dark foundation shrubs. They also make an eye-catching skirt around palms or summer-flowering shrubs like gardenia or summersweet.  

As your amaryllis clumps increase, at some point you’ll probably want to divide the clump to share bulbs with friends or spread them around your landscape. The best time of year to tackle this kind of amaryllis propagation is in fall, after leaves have yellowed.  

Dig the clump carefully, freeing only the edges if you just want a few amaryllis bulbs. If you want to divide the entire clump, dig wide enough around your amaryllis that you avoid slicing bulbs. Most amaryllis bulbs separate easily once they’re out of soil. Transplant them as soon as possible so the fleshy roots don’t dry out. It’s a good idea to dig planting holes and water them prior to lifting the original clump to limit how long bulbs and roots are exposed to air.  

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