Amaryllis – Outdoor Survival

Q: The amaryllis I received for Christmas has finished blooming. When can I plant it outdoors? Will it survive a winter in the landscape?

A: Gerald Suhonen at Van Bloem Bulbs says that amaryllis bulbs come from several parts of the world. The common red blooming garden amaryllis, Hippeastrum x johnsonii, (see this link) will overwinter in all but the most severe landscapes in Atlanta. The holiday amaryllis plants, with huge bulbs and blooms, are less hardy. Their best care would be to dig them in the fall, along with your dahlia and canna roots. Plant the bulbs in late April outdoors and fertilize them a couple of times in the summer.

Update from my friend Maria:

“Here’s the voice of experience. For the past 15+ years, I have been planting amaryllis bulbs of the “big flowering” type you get at xmas time (e.g.: “Red Lion”) into my modified clay soil. With plenty of mulch and compost of course.

“And EVERY year, it’s “the gift that keeps on giving.” In fact, even as I type, despite the drought, I have not only big leaves but bulbs beginning to fatten and stretch towards the heavens.

“I am so sold on these babies that I go to Target on Dec. 26th each year, and fight people for the remaining few boxes of amaryllis–marked down to $2.50. They are sad, sad cases, since they’ve tried to send out roots and shoots in a cardboard box with an almost complete absence of light (they will try to push between the top and sides if possible.)

“A little of my famed TLC (I have brought the very nearly dead back to life innumerable times) and they live happy lives for many years.

And a note from Lou:

The ‘Red Lion’ amaryllis picture on your website is the one I sent you several years ago.  Since then that one original bulb has multiplied and been divided to create this row on our patio with 30 blooms this year.  We added the ‘Christmas Story’ white last year.

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