Take It Outside: Grow Amaryllis in Your Garden

Try these varieties when you want to bring this popular winter bloom outdoors.
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Pots of Amaryllis Create Exotic Winter Display

Pots of Amaryllis Create Exotic Winter Display

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

The question comes up every winter: Can I transplant my potted amaryllis to the garden this spring and grow it there?

In the gardening world, anything’s worth a try. But the reality is, most amaryllis that are sold for forcing into bloom indoors are hybrids. These “florist amaryllis,” or false amaryllis, (Hippeastrum) are hardy in warm climates of zone 8 and higher and typically don’t transfer well outdoors. That’s not to say that one will never flower again once planted in the garden – just don’t set your expectations too high for your noble recycling effort!

But if amaryllis are your thing, there are two true species to consider for your garden. 

Amaryllis belladonna – better known as Naked Ladies – are native to South Africa. Typically grown on the West Coast, the bulbs send up or two leafless stems in late summer, each bearing a cluster of two to 12 funnel-shaped flowers, usually white with crimson veins, but there are also hybrids in purple, pink and peach as well. 

The other species, which is hardy throughout the Southeast, is the Johnson’s amaryllis, or Hippeastrum x johnsonii. Named for an English hybridizer, these are most often confused with the indoor amaryllis. This bulb is the toughest of all because it can withstand cold temperatures and poor soil. In spring, it sends up 10- to 24-inch stems that produce red softball-size trumpet-shaped blooms with white stripes. 

Like most flowering bulbs, amaryllis prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

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