Amaryllis flowers

Winter Flowering Bulbs

In Feature, Flowers, Winter by Jessie Jacobson

This is the perfect time to start thinking about planting and growing amaryllis and paper white bulbs. Why not add these pretty flowers to your winter decorating plan? We’ll help you get started with everything you need to know.

How to Plant Amaryllis Bulbs

  • Choose a pot or vase that will accommodate your amaryllis bulb with about 1-2 inches of space between the bulb and the side of the pot. Fill pot halfway with potting mix or pebbles. (Tonkaterra or Espoma Green are great choices)
  • Place amaryllis bulb on top of soil or pebbles.
  • Fill in pot with potting soil or pebbles so about 1/3 of the bulb is still exposed on the top.
  • Firm the soil or pebbles around the bulb and water-in.

Planting in water

  • Choose a water tight container that will accommodate your amaryllis bulb with about 1-2 inches of space between the bulb and the side of the pot. Fill container 1/3rd full with pebbles or marbles, if you like.
  • Trim off brown spent roots, then place amaryllis bulb on top of this layer.
  • Hold the bulb in place and fill in with more pebbles, but make sure the bulb is above the stones.
  • Add water to 1” below the bulb.

Amaryllis roots in water

After planting

  • Continue to water when potting mix is dry to the touch. If you planted your bulb in pebbles, add water to a level 1” below the base of the bulb. Don’t let your bulb sit in water or it will rot and become stinky!
  • Provide ample sunshine; place in a sunny space.
  • Growth generally begins a few weeks after planting. Expect to see blooms within 6-8 weeks of planting.

Getting your amaryllis to bloom indoors is not an exact science. Growth and bloom time are dependent on light, water, and temperature. The good news is the blooms last a very long time and bulbs will shoot up multiple flower stalks over the course of a few weeks.

Flower stalks tend to curve towards the light (don’t we all), so rotate your pot as the stem grows. Flower stalks may become heavy and need some extra support. Use a bamboo stake or a hunk of red twig dogwood to support the weight of the blooms.

At Tonkadale, we like to top-dress the soil with sheet moss and hemlock cones to add a finishing touch. It’s one of our signature looks, but you can use it and claim it as your own.

Amaryllis bulbs in terra cotta pots

After flowering

After your bulb is finished flowering, it is exhausted. As the last bloom fades, cut off the flower stalks to 3-5 inches above the bulb. DO NOT CUT OFF THE LEAVES at this time! They produce the food that will be stored in the bulb.

Keep your bulb in a sunny window and continue to water it, adding a water-soluble fertilizer at half strength.

When the danger of frost has passed in the spring (about mid-May in our area), transfer your bulb outdoors. You can leave it in the existing pot or plant it in the ground. A part-sun location is best.

In the fall, after a good hard frost, dig up your bulb and cut back the leaves. Let the bulb dry out. Store in a cool, dry and dark place for 8-10 weeks. After this rest period, re-plant your bulb and enjoy all over again.

How to Plant Paperwhite Bulbs

Paperwhite flowers

If you are not going to plant your bulbs right away, keep them at room temperature in a paper bag.

Planting in soil

  • First fill container with 1/3rd potting soil.
  • Place bulbs on top of the soil, then layer with gravel, pebbles, marbles, or sand to keep the bulbs in place. You can go almost all the way to the top of the bulb.
  • Water the potting mix until damp, or fill jar with water just to the bottom of the bulb.
  • Add supports now, if using, so the roots are not disturbed later.

Planting in water

  • Choose any water tight container that will accommodate your paperwhites. Fill container 1/3rd full with pebbles, stones, gravel, or marbles.
  • Hold the bulb in place and fill in with more pebbles, nestle bulbs into the stones.
  • Add water to stones barely touching bottom of the bulb.

After Planting

  • Continue to water to just below the bulb if planted in pebbles, or when the soil becomes dry to the touch.
  • Keep in a sunny location.
  • Paperwhites bloom in 3-4 weeks.

Paperwhites will not rebloom.

General Indoor Bulb Care

Do not place bulbs near a heat source or draft. Do not fertilize during forcing/blooming.

Potted bulbs in bloom prefer cooler temperatures. Allow blooms to enjoy full sunlight during the day, but move them to a cooler location at night, if possible. Prolonged warm temperatures will shorten bloom time.

The outdoor work is nearly complete and the days are getting shorter. Blooming indoor flowers make the time between growing seasons just that much more enjoyable!