Christmas for Mother’s Day: Growing Amaryllis in the Garden

What to do with those leftover Amaryllis bulbs you forced over the winter?

By Dwight Sipler from Stow, MA, USA (Amaryllis  Uploaded by Jacopo Werther) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dwight Sipler from Stow, MA, USA (Amaryllis Uploaded by Jacopo Werther) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 or warmer, plant them outside in your garden.

I love Amaryllis and my neighbor usually gives me one every year as a holiday gift. I have never been able to manage bringing them back into bloom in containers–I always forget to tend them–but I thought I’d start planting them out and seeing how they fared.

I have three ‘Red Lion’ bulbs planted in the hot border (so called because it is planted in hot colors: red, orange, yellow, etc.), and one more is ready to go in. Although the first year or two they produced heavy foliage, they didn’t bloom.

Last fall, I scratched in a bit of bulb fertilizer. This spring, I fed the garden with blood meal per my soil test report. And last week:

I think, if you live in Zones 5 or 6, it might be worth a try growing them outside. Make sure the drainage is good, and add a thick layer of mulch in the fall. If you know of a microclimate in your garden where plants bloom early, consider siting it there.

Above all, have patience. While providing proper soil pH and fertility directed by my soil test probably had some positive impact, the reason my amaryllis flowered this year is because they were finally ready. Amaryllis, like the crinums to which they are related, need time to get comfortable in their new surroundings. But once they are settled, they thrive with minimal care.

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