How to care for amaryllis — 9 tips for these fabulous flowering bulbs

The gardening pros explain how to care for amaryllis, including advice on watering, soil, and more

Pink amaryllis flowers in close-up on gray background
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If you love a festive flowering plant, learning how to care for amaryllis is a must. Known for their impressive, trumpet-shaped blooms in red, white, and pink, they brighten up any interior scheme throughout the cooler months of the year.

Caring for them correctly is important for a dazzling display. This includes getting the watering, soil type, and lighting right, as our houseplant experts explain. Proper maintenance also encourages new blooms the following year.

If you want to give a stunning, seasonal boost to your collection of best indoor plants, you'll find all the essentials on amaryllis care below.

How to care for amaryllis, according to the experts

Amaryllis are some of the best houseplants for small spaces if you're looking for festive indoor blooms. 

However, if you want to continue looking after yours once the flowers have finished, bear in mind the foliage isn't much to look at — unlike a Chinese money plant, available to order from The Lively Root, or exotic looking air plants such as the Ionantha Guatemala, also from The Lively Root, that make for pretty displays.

Moving amaryllis outdoors, if possible, is a great way to free up space until they start flowering again the following winter.

1. Pick healthy bulbs

Three amaryllis bulbs planted in terracotta pots with hand trowel and steel shallow, wide bowl of soil in shot

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While amaryllis can often be bought pre-potted from nurseries, you can also plant the bulbs yourself in the fall. If you get the timing right, usually by planting in September, you can enjoy the blooms over the festive holidays. 

You can shop for amaryllis bulbs from Amazon depending on the season. However, It's important to inspect bulbs before planting them, to save disappointment. 

Anna Ohler, owner of Bright Lane Gardens nursery, says, "Choose healthy bulbs that are firm and free from any signs of rot or damage (such as squishy spots, areas of mold or powdery mildew, or signs of moisture). Larger bulbs tend to produce more flowers."

smiling headshot of Anna Ohler, owner of Bright Lane Gardens nursery
Anna Ohler

Anna is an avid plant hobbyist and the owner and operator of Bright Lane Gardens, a boutique plant nursery in Northern Michigan. With over a decade of experience in gardening and landscaping, she takes every opportunity to share her knowledge on all things plant-related. She also runs the company's YouTube channel, which is full of practical advice.

2. Use well-draining soil

display of flowering potted amaryllis with gray background

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Amaryllis bulbs should be planted in a well-draining soil mix, similar to when caring for most houseplants

Autumn Hilliard-Knapp, a plant expert from Perfect Plants Nursery, recommends a mix specifically formulated for houseplants, or a combination of potting soil, compost, and sand. "This allows excess moisture to drain away from the roots." 

She suggests the indoor plant soil mix from Perfect Plants Nursery.

Smiling headshot of Autumn Hilliard-Knapp from Perfect Plants Nursery
Autumn Hilliard-Knapp

Autumn is a horticulture specialist and marketing professional at Perfect Plants Nursery. With four years of experience in the horticulture industry, she has developed a passion for helping people create beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy. Her expertise in horticulture encompasses a broad range of activities, including plant care and selection, landscape design, and maintenance.

When planting your bulb, Amy Enfield, senior horticulturist at ScottsMiracle-Gro, recommends picking a container with drainage that is about one inch wider and twice as tall as your bulb. Fill the pot about halfway, she instructs, then place your bulb on top of the soil with the pointed end up. 

"Fill in around your bulb with more potting mix, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed," she says. 

Then, water the potting mix, avoiding wetting the top of the bulb. "You should see blooms in about 8–10 weeks," Amy adds.

smiling headshot of Amy Enfield from ScottsMiracle-Gro
Amy Enfield

Amy has over 25 years of experience in the lawn and garden industry and has been with ScottsMiracle-Gro for 11 years. She has a BS and MS in Horticulture from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Plant and Environmental Sciences from Clemson University.

3. Water carefully

A person's hand is in view watering an amaryllis bulb with a large yellow watering can

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Proper watering is crucial when learning how not to kill your houseplants.

Autumn says, "Amaryllis plants prefer to be kept slightly on the drier side, so it's important to avoid overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out partially between waterings, and be mindful not to let the plant sit in standing water. Overwatering is the most common issue with amaryllis plants, leading to root rot."

Diane Kuthy, a gardening expert from How To Grow Everything, recommends using the finger test to gauge when to water your amaryllis. "Dip your finger about one inch into the soil. If it feels dry, then water, if it is still moist, hold off," she says. 

Alternatively, you could invest in a smart moisture meter, available from The Sill.

"Water just the soil and avoid getting the bulb wet," Diane continues. "It is best to use room temperature water."

You can also bottom-water your amaryllis, as Nastya Vasylchyshyna, a resident botany expert at Plantum, advises. Simply place its pot into a water-filled tray for about half an hour, she says, then remove any excess water from the pot saucer afterward.

smiling headshot of Diane Kuthy from How to Grow Everything on white background
Diane Kuthy

Diane Kuthy is the founder and lead plant expert at How To Grow Everything, a collection of comprehensive grow guides for every plant and vegetable. Diane has over 10 years of gardening experience and she currently manages a 5-acre farm, a four-season greenhouse, over 50 perennial fruit and vegetable varieties, and a large indoor plant conservatory.

smiling headshot of Nastya Vasylchyshyna from Plantum app
Nastya Vasylchyshyna

Nastya is a professional botany expert for the Plantum app that helps identify plants and plant diseases and provides care recommendations. Her specialization is plant morphology, phytopathology, and plant physiology.

4. Provide bright light

Flowering potted amaryllis plants on windowsill

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Just like learning how to care for fiddle leaf figs, it's vital to know that amaryllis need plenty of bright light. 

Autumn says, "Place them near a sunny window or in a well-lit area, but avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, which can scorch their leaves." She recommends rotating the pot every few days, too, to encourage the plant to grow vertically and prevent it from curving or leaning.

Remember to keep your amaryllis away from four-legged friends — these are not pet-friendly houseplants.

5. Get the temperature right

Red amaryllis bulbs in flower in living room, placed on a sage green round side table with candles, next to sofa and yellow geometric patterned cushion

(Image credit: Liudmila Chernetska / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images)

Nastya says, "The optimal temperature range during the active growing period is 66–73° Fahrenheit."

As with most indoor plants, jade plants included, keep it away from air conditioning units and drafts.

Consider using this clever Bluetooth thermometer, available from Amazon, to help maintain a suitable environment.

6. Fertilize during active growth

Red amaryllis flower on blue background

(Image credit: Diane Miller / The Image Bank / Getty Images)

Fertilizing is a factor to consider when learning how to care for amaryllis plants.

"Amaryllis flower best when they are placed in a small container that is only a tiny bit larger than the bulb itself," says Diane. "This causes the plant to become pot bound. Because there isn't much soil in the pot, it will need extra nutrients often to keep the bulb well fed and growing."

Autumn advises, "Feed your amaryllis plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two to four weeks during the active growing period. Fertilizing a bare bulb can be fatal to the plant, so remember to wait until after the plant grows."

The Perfect Plants Nursery liquid indoor plant food is Autumn's recommended choice. This can be used when caring for calla lilies, too.

7. Stake your plants

Pink flowering amaryllis in pot on windowsill

(Image credit: Clive Nichols / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images)

"As the flower stalk grows, it may need support to prevent it from bending or breaking," says Anna. "Gentle staking with bamboo stakes or a small trellis is helpful."

Alternatively, you could opt for plant stakes from Amazon, which are also suitable for orchids.

8. Prune spent flowers

White amaryllis flowers in close-up, with twinkling lights in soft focus in the background

(Image credit: Marc de Boer / Alamy Stock Photo)

Nastya says, "Once the plant finishes blooming, you’ll need to prune its spent flowering stem."

Dry and yellowing leaves can also be removed at the base as they appear.

You'll need a good tool for the job, such as these Fiskars pruners from Amazon with over 33,000 five-star ratings. They will be useful for pruning dead leaves when caring for your peace lily, too, if you have one.

9. Watch out for pests

Three potted amaryllis plants in different growing stages with gray background. There are in three matching terracotta pots on a blue table

(Image credit: David Malan / Stone / Getty Images)

It's worth knowing how to identify houseplant pests when caring for amaryllis.

Nastya says, "Indoor amaryllis are susceptible to infestation by mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites." Should you spot any, she suggests treating the plant with an insecticidal soap.

The Garden Safe insecticidal soap spray from Amazon is a well-favored solution for tackling a wide range of unwanted bugs.

Gnats can be common in houseplants, especially when the soil is overwatered. We recommend cheap and cheerful sticky yellow traps available on Amazon. Our experts have covered how to get rid of gnats in houseplants.


Can you move amaryllis plants outdoors?

If you have a yard or even a small balcony, you can move your amaryllis outdoors in the spring and summer months.

Autumn says, "Amaryllis plants can be moved outdoors once they are done blooming and once all risk of frost has passed, usually in mid-April. Gradually acclimate them to outdoor conditions by placing them in a shaded area for a few hours per day."

Nastya adds, "Don’t place the plant where it’ll be exposed to direct afternoon sunlight — make sure it receives bright light only in the morning and evening hours."

Moving it outdoors will allow it to take advantage of the sunshine and help replenish the bulb to bloom again next winter, says Amy. Continue to water and fertilize it, to promote leaf growth and development, she adds.

"Amaryllis should be brought back indoors before the first fall frost and before night temperatures drop to 50° Fahrenheit," she says.

Do amaryllis need a dormant period to flower again?

According to Amy, amaryllis do not require a rest period in order to rebloom. "If allowed to continue growing, they will eventually reflower," she says.

However, if you want to control when these blooms appear, you can induce dormancy in late summer or early fall. Start this 12–18 weeks before you want your amaryllis to flower, Amy says.

To do this, place your amaryllis in a cool (50–60° Fahrenheit), dry, dark location (like a closet), she continues. Leave them here for 8–12 weeks without watering them. Let the leaves naturally turn brown and dry, and trim them off once they have.

Amy says to place the plant in a sunny spot after 8–12 weeks. You can also move it here earlier if you've noticed new growth forming before the 8–12 weeks are up. 

Then, water the potting mix and continue to water and feed it as it grows. "Flower stalks will usually start to emerge in about 4–6 weeks," she says.

Can you propagate amaryllis?

You can propagate fiddle leaf figs, spider plants, and many other indoor plants to expand your collection. And amaryllis are no exception — if you know the correct way to go about it.

Autumn says, "Amaryllis plants are commonly propagated through bulb offsets that emerge from the main bulb. To propagate, gently separate the smaller bulbs from the larger bulb, ensuring each has some of its own roots intact. 

"Plant these offsets in separate pots using well-draining soil, and care for them as you would mature amaryllis plants," she says. 

Amy says, "In about 3–4 years, they should reach the same size as the mother bulb." The best time to propagate amaryllis this way is in late winter or early spring, she adds – once the main bulb is done flowering.

It's also possible to propagate amaryllis from seed, although it is quite an involved method, points out Nastya. "The seeds have to be sown soon after collection and kept under strict growing conditions to germinate, but even then it takes 5–6 years on average for the first blooms to appear."

Now you know how to care for amaryllis, perhaps you'll be tempted to plant one of these brilliant bulbs in the fall. That is, if you haven't got one growing already.

And, if you're looking for more leafy pals to brighten your home, why not consider caring for a lucky bamboo plant? It's a super easy houseplant that can be grown without soil.

Holly Crossley
Freelance writer

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest, UK, where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for for two years, Holly now regularly writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.

In her spare time, Holly loves visiting local English gardens and is particularly fond of relaxed cottage-garden schemes. She also loves prairie-style planting – the tapestry effect of grasses mixed with drought-tolerant blooms never ceases to delight her. Always happiest around plants, when she isn't swooning over gardens, she's looking after her ever-growing collection of houseplants and arranging seasonal flowers in her apartment to paint.