Those who know and love amaryllis (Hippaestrum spp.) bulbs will understand why the flowering plant's name is derived from amaryss, the Greek word for "sparkle." If you are just getting started with the bulb plants, you are in for a treat. The enormous, trumpet-shaped amaryllis flowers light up your garden or your home with their long-lasting, gorgeous blossoms. Exactly how long does an amaryllis plant bloom? It all depends on the cultivar, the care and the setting.
All About Amaryllis
You have so many options when it comes to inviting an amaryllis into your life. You can buy bare bulbs for garden planting, or you can grow them in containers indoors. It's also possible to invest in a planted bulb, or even a planted bulb that has grown and is ready to flower.
The size of the amaryllis flower and the length of the amaryllis flower season depends on the cultivar of the bulb you purchase. Flower sizes range from four to 10 inches wide, and come in both single and double forms. You can find any of these blossom options in a number of colors or color combinations. Classic colors include red and white, but you'll find lots of interesting shades like salmon, apricot, burgundy, pale pink or rose. You want something fancier? Look for varieties that blaze in two shades, like burgundy and lime, or blooms with a contrasting edge shade.
Amaryllis plants grow wild in South Africa, which tells you something about their climate preferences. They were imported to Europe in the 1700s, and the rest is history. Today, most amaryllis you buy in commerce are hybrids, which is why you have so many choices, from preplanted Jackson and Perkins amaryllis bulbs (Winter's Warmth Amaryllis comes in a cozy plaid container) to bulk orders of bare amaryllis bulbs.
Amaryllis Bloom Time
One cool feature of amaryllis is that you control when it blooms. That's right, whether you plant it indoors or out, amaryllis flower season is dictated by when it goes in the earth. Remember that these are bulbs that carry all of the nutrients they require stored up for when conditions are right. Once planted in a container or outside and provided with warm temperatures, strong light and water, they take it from there. Amaryllis bloom time is about eight to 10 weeks after planting.
But "amaryllis bloom time" might also mean the length of time a bulb will continue producing flowers. Some are reported to have bloomed repeatedly for over 75 years.
How to Grow an Amaryllis
How to grow an amaryllis depends entirely on whether you intend to plant outside or inside. Only those in extremely warm climates, like Florida, have a viable outdoors option. In most parts of the nation, you have to grow it as a container plant in your home or greenhouse, because these plants are perennials only in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, depending on species and cultivar.
Lucky Floridians can plant the bulbs outside in the garden where they bloom and grow all year long. If this is you, set your bulbs during the winter months in an area of light shade to get the best blossoms. Be sure the site has cultivated, organically rich, well-drained soil or else plant in a raised bed. Just dig holes and plant the bulbs neck deep, about 12 to 15 inches apart. The neck of the bulb should remain above the soil line. Once established, amaryllis care in Florida isn't difficult. Irrigate to keep the bulbs moist but not wet. You can leave bulbs in the ground for years.
If you don't live in a warm climate, you can still enjoy amaryllis by planting the bulbs in a container that you keep in your home or greenhouse. Pick healthy-looking bulbs. The containers must have good drainage, and they shouldn't be much wider than the bulb itself and about twice as tall as the bulb. Use sterile potting soil that contains lots of organic matter and fill the container half full. Set a bulb, roots down, on the soil, then add soil until only one-third of of the bulb remains visible. Water well, allow to drain, then set the pot on a window sill that gets some sun.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.