If you’ve ever grown more than one amaryllis bulb at a time, you may have wondered why some bulbs sprout more quickly than others. There’s always a bit of mystery as to how fast a plant will grow and when it will bloom, but with amaryllis, much of this depends on where the bulb was grown, when you plant it and which variety you choose.
Most amaryllis bulbs are produced in Holland, Brazil, Peru, South Africa and Israel. Bulbs grown in Israel and the southern hemisphere are harvested several months before Dutch bulbs, so they have a slightly different internal time clock. This means they are more eager to sprout and will typically bloom in early winter, approximately 5-7 weeks after planting.
Dutch amaryllis bulbs are produced in greenhouses and harvested in early fall. Their internal timeclock tells them to bloom between January and March, usually about 8 to 12 weeks after planting.
Like all bulbs, a dormant amaryllis is alive, even when it shows no sign of life. During this resting phase, bulbs are somewhat protected from their environment. Once they start growing, they need light and more consistent temperatures.
If you purchase an amaryllis bulb that has already sprouted, pot it up right away and give it good light. Amaryllis bulbs that are still dormant can be planted immediately, or you can keep them dormant for several months by storing the bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place. The sooner you plant a dormant bulb and expose it to moisture and light, the sooner it will start growing.
There are dozens of amaryllis varieties in a wide range of flower style and colors. Just as each variety has its own look, each variety also has its own natural dormancy period. Early bloomers with a short dormancy period include amaryllis Minerva, Sweet Nymph and Evergreen. The varieties Appleblossom, Splash, Double King, Exotica and White Nymph are considered midseason bloomers. Late bloomers include Red Pearl, Red Lion, Spartacus, Amorice, Christmas Gift, Nymph and Lagoon.
Anticipation is part of the fun of growing an amaryllis. Watching these fist-size bulbs wake up and burst into bloom is a midwinter thrill I’d hate to miss. Planting several different varieties is the best way to ensure you’ll have amaryllis in bloom all winter long.