Forcing Amaryllis 101

The first sign of spring to so many people is when tulips and daffodils start to pop out from the ground. These bright, colorful signs of warmer weather to come are not there by accident. Unlike lilies and dahlias, the flowers that bloom right at the start of spring need to be planted in the fall. These are referred to as “Fall Bulbs”.

Fall Bulbs

While tulips and narcissus (daffodils) are some of the most known fall bulbs, there are quite a few different types of flowers that can be planted in the fall to allow for early spring blooms.

These include:

  • Alliums
  • Anemones
  • Crocus
  • Hyacinth
  • Iris
  • Ranunculus
  • And even Garlic!

Some types, such as anemones and ranunculus, can also be planted in spring so you may have already seen some for sale earlier this year. Fall bulbs require a cooling period. This varies by type, but it can last up to 16 weeks. This forces the bulbs to remain dormant otherwise new growth could be damaged by the cold weather.

Forcing Bulbs

Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy those fall bulbs a little sooner? Amaryllis and Paper White Narcissus are flowers that are commonly referred to as “forcing bulbs”. They are both from warm climates, so they don’t require a cooling period to trigger blooms.

So, what does that mean?

Forcing bulbs are bulbs that have been tricked into blooming out of season. The term “forcing” can make it sound like a laborious process, but its usually about as hard as planting any other kind of bulb.

How To Force Amaryllis

Amaryllis are one of the easiest bulbs to force to bloom out of season. Since they don’t need to be chilled, they can just be potted indoors and require minimal care. There are a few different options for planting amaryllis. You can pot them up, place them in a decorative vase, or order ones that come coated in wax. The choice depends on how you want your display to look, and how much time you want to put into caring for the bulbs.


If you enjoy the classic look of having your flowers potted up, then we have good news for you, you can just plant your amaryllis bulbs in some soil. There are a few things to be aware of, so here is how you should go about it:

  1. Choose a pot with good drainage, and make sure to use well-draining soil.
  2. Plant the bulb close to the top of the soil. Only cover the bottom half of it.
  3. Give the bulb a good soak. Let water flow out of the drainage holes.
  4. Move the bulb to a sunny and warm location inside your home.
  5. Water sparingly. Keep the soil moist but do not soak it. Once growth starts to appear (green shoots will start to come out of the bulb) you can begin watering it regularly.
  6. Turn the pot every few days as it grows so your Amaryllis grows straight up instead of leaning towards the sun.
  7. Once blooms start to appear, move the flower out of direct sunlight to prolong the lifespan of the flowers. Amaryllis take an average of 6 weeks to bloom after potting.


If you prefer a more decorative look, then planting amaryllis directly into a vase might be for you. This method doesn’t require any soil and gives you a lot of options for how you would like your flower display to look.

So how do you get a flower to grow without any soil? There are a few steps:

  1. Choose a vase or container that you want to grow the bulb in. There are vases specifically designed for amaryllis if you don’t have any that would fit the bulb.
  2. Fill the bottom 2-4 inches with marbles or pebbles. Glass stones work well. Set your bulb on top of the glass or pebbles.
  3. Slowly pour water into the vase. Stop when the water is just below the bulb and is barely touching the roots.
  4. Place the vase in a sunny and warm location and soon you will see the roots growing out the of bulb and down into the pebbles. This will give the plant stability while also allowing it to take in more water.
  5. Make sure to rotate the vase every few days as it grows so your flowers grow straight.
  6. Top up the water any time it is needed, making sure to keep the water just below the bulb.
  7. Once blooms start to appear, move the flower out of direct sunlight to prolong the lifespan of the flowers. Amaryllis take an average of 6 weeks to bloom.

Waxed Bulbs

Finally, there is the easiest way to grow amaryllis: Waxed bulbs. Waxed amaryllis bulbs don’t require soil or water because they come with all the nutrients they need sealed inside the wax.

They usually come dipped in red, gold, silver, or copper colored wax so they fit into almost any display.  Waxed bulbs are often a surprise regarding what color they will be when they bloom, but ours will bloom red.

If potting bulbs or having to remember to top up the water in the vase doesn’t appeal to you, then waxed bulbs might be just what you’re looking for. Makes sure to rotate waxed bubs every few days to keep the flowers growing straight.

With so many options (both for growing styles and bloom colors) it’s hard to say no to adding Amaryllis to your fall bulb wish list. Check out our selection of Amaryllis here or our entire selection of fall bulbs here!

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