How to Grow Amaryllis Three-to-a-Pot

Windowsill Blooms & Compact Cutting Garden

Growing one amaryllis bulb to a pot provides huge satisfaction. Planting three bulbs to a pot results in a fabulous potted plant display that’s so full of flowers it can serve as an indoor cutting garden, too.

Why else plant the bulbs three-to-a-pot? “Because it’s simple, compact and easy to maintain,” says Christian Curless, horticulturist for Colorblends, a Connecticut -based flower bulb wholesaler that sells direct to professionals and consumers nationwide. “Amaryllis three-to-a-pot is essentially a windowsill garden.”

Above all, it’s fun to watch plants grow indoors in winter. Plus, it almost feels decadent to harvest cut flowers from indoor pots. But why not? Three bulbs produce a ridiculous number of flowers!

The large bulbs, 32-34 cm, put up two to three stems each, in succession, with each stem topped by four or more enormous flowers. With three bulbs, that’s six to nine stems and a total of 24 to 36 flowers. Thus, with each bulb growing on its own schedule, three bulbs easily produce three weeks of bloom and nearly two months of indoor winter fun watching everything grow.

Typically, amaryllis bulbs bloom about eight to 12 weeks after planting. It’s normal for the bulbs to take their time before growth appears. Once planted and watered in, they may take three to eight weeks to produce their first stems. From there on out, the thick stems grow quickly. Once the buds form and unfurl, the floral displays are breath-taking and surprisingly long-lasting. Soon their second stems come up, and often a third. Planted three bulbs to a pot, these cycles spin out tangentially, like three clocks set just out of sync.

Following are practical tips from Colorblends on growing amaryllis bulbs three-to-a-pot.

GETTING STARTED
You’ll need:

  • three top-size amaryllis bulbs
  • a broad, shallow pot (round works best) with at least one drainage hole in the bottom
  • minimum pot size: 7 inches deep by 11 inches in diameter (amaryllis roots are thick and fleshy, but don’t need much extra growing room)
  • potting soil
  • a waterproof saucer or plate (to catch water under the pot)
  • cork or other pad to place underneath in case the saucer sweats
  • when buying flower bulbs in quantity, consider wholesale pricing: Colorblends.com offers top quality, name varieties of amaryllis (sized 32 to 34 cm) in quantities of 3, 6, 12 and more. The company sells direct to horticulture professionals and home gardeners nationwide, offering wholesale pricing with a minimum order of $60.

PLANTING

  • fill 1/3 of the pot with potting soil
  • place the three bulbs close together but not touching, approximately 1½ inches apart. Position each bulb so the bottom 2/3 will be buried, leaving the top 1/3 above the soil surface (“bare shoulders”)
  • add potting soil around and between the bulbs
  • tamp the soil to seat the bulbs securely
  • do not fill soil to the top of the pot. Leave space below the rim for water to pool (and drain) when watered

WATERING

  • to initiate growth, water well (Tip: put the pot in a sink, water, then let excess water drain out)
  • be prepared to wait, nothing happens for a while
  • during this pre-growth stretch, water sparingly, when soil is dry to touch
  • after 3 to 8 weeks, a stem will appear
  • once growth starts, water as needed to keep soil damp (not wet or soggy)

CARE AND MAINTENANCE

  • set the pot by a sunny window (south- and west-facing windows offer the best light)
  • grow at room temperature, 60°–75°F. The warmer the room the faster the bulb will grow
  • turn the pot occasionally to encourage balanced growth (amaryllis are phototropic, they’ll lean towards the dominant source of light)
  • Where light is dim, stems may grow overly tall (and weak)

Once the flowers open:

  • move the pot out of direct sunlight so flowers will last longer
  • keep pots away from heaters and hot air vents
  • bloom can be prolonged by moving the pot to a cooler spot at night
  • to keep blooms fresh-looking, snip off faded florets
  • once all florets on a stem are spent, cut off the stem about two inches above the bulb

Note: Big bulbs (32-34 cm) produce at least two stems, sometimes three. The show is not over when the first stem is spent. A second stem will come up and bloom, and quite often a third.

CUT FLOWERS
Occasionally a top-heavy stem will topple over. Not a problem. Just consider it a “volunteer” for the vase and cut it off. But why stop there? With so many stems and flowers coming and going over a month or two, consider using some of your amaryllis bounty for indoor cutting.

To cut stems from the pot for use as cut flowers:

  • don’t cut stems until their flower buds have plumped up and begun to unfurl or are already open
  • use a sharp, clean knife, never scissors
  • make the cut about 2 inches above the bulb
  • cradle stems as you cut them so they so they won’t fall and damage the flowers

VASE LIFE
Cut amaryllis can last up to 10 days in the vase, depending on when cut and how kept.

  • choose a non-tippy vase, tall enough to support the top-heavy stems
  • clear vases show off the strong stems nicely
  • fill a clean vase approximately 1/3 full with cool clean water

For longest vase life:

  • place the vase out of direct sun or heat (flowers last longer when kept cool)
  • refresh the water every 3 days or so
  • retrim stem ends by an inch or more (once or twice weekly) to keep their water-uptake channels open
  • if left too long between trims, stem ends may split and curl back at the base (like the toes of Persian slippers)
  • if a stem end is curled, trim off two inches or more
  • as individual florets fade, snip them off to keep things looking fresh

DIFFERENT LOOKS
Amaryllis stems are long. But your arrangements can be any height you want. Keep in mind that, over time, repeat trimming makes the stems shorter and shorter. So, it’s a good idea to have a collection of accomodating vases in different heights, proportions and styles. You can find excellent and affordable candidates at junk shops, yard sales and from many online sources.

For more information on flower bulbs and gardening, visit Colorblends.com.