Try your hand at amaryllis propagation by saving seeds. Some hardy amaryllis bulbs produce viable seed that you can save and germinate. Amaryllis seed often comes from hybrid bulbs, which means the seeds produce plants that won’t be 100 percent similar to either parent plant. Instead, you might create a wonderful flower color by sprouting and growing amaryllis seeds.
When hardy amaryllis flower, the blooms can be pollinated. Insects might accomplish the task, or you might do it by hand. However it happens, once flowers are pollinated, when they fade they form seed pods. Amaryllis seed pods are fleshy, plump structures that hang on at the end of the tall flower stalks.
It usually takes amaryllis seed pods anywhere from four to six weeks to ripen. It’s best to let them go through the ripening process while still attached to the plant. Pods are ripe when they turn yellow and start to open. Amaryllis seed pods open to reveal tight stacks of black, papery seeds.
Once seed pods split, you can harvest the seeds. It’s usually easiest to snip the pod free from the plant and open it over a sheet of plain paper. That way, the seeds are easy to spot. When you clip the pod free, go ahead and cut the flower stalk back to the base. Add the stalk to your compost pile.
Let seeds dry a few days on a sheet of paper. Amaryllis seeds are light and easily shifted by puffs of air, so take care where you place your seeds while they dry. Some gardeners like to sow amaryllis seeds in soil; others sprout them by floating seeds in water.
If you choose the soil route, don’t use garden soil or even potting soil. Buy a bag of commercial germinating mix or seed starting mix. Fill your seed-starting container with the mix and moisten it before adding seeds. Then sprinkle seeds over soil, pressing them gently against the damp mix. Barely cover amaryllis seeds with more germinating mix, and spritz with water until you soak the top layer of mix.
Some gardeners plant the seeds on edge, so that they’re sticking out of the germinating mix. If you use this method, sow them into a container with a lid so you can create a humid environment around the amaryllis seeds. If you sprout seeds in water, once roots appear, transfer the seeds to a germinating mix, barely covering them.
It takes anywhere from three to 14 years for a seed-sprouted amaryllis to flower. Patience is the key when growing amaryllis seeds. Some hardy amaryllis, like St. Joseph’s lily, produce sterile seeds that won’t sprout. You’ll know if other seeds are viable by gently feeling them. If you feel a plump kernel in one part of the papery seed, that’s likely an embryo and will sprout.