How to Use Amaryllis as Cut Flowers
If you visit a high-end floral shop during the winter months, you’re likely to see lots of amaryllis. Floral designers love using these big-blooming flower bulbs, because the blossoms are bold, elegant and long-lasting.
In the floral trade, demand for amaryllis is increasing. Commercial growers have been quick to jump on the opportunity, and this has stimulated a flurry of new hybridizing. Those of us who love growing amaryllis can now choose from an extraordinary range of exciting flower styles and colors.
Why not jump on this trend and try using some of your amaryllis as cut flowers? Though it can be intimidating to cut those big stems, once you do, you’ll discover so many new ways to enjoy these magnificent winter-blooming bulbs. Read on for some practical tips about growing and using amaryllis as cut flowers.
4 Reasons to Grow Amaryllis as Cut Flowers
ONE. Amaryllis flowers last just as long (and sometimes longer) in a vase as they do when still attached to the bulb. This is a big reason they’re so popular as cut flowers. Cut the stems after the buds soften, and you can expect to have flowers for 2 weeks or more.
TWO. When you cut the stems before the flowers open, it helps the bulb conserve energy. This is valuable if you want to save your amaryllis bulbs from one year to the next. Or, if you live in a warm climate and grow amaryllis outdoors.
THREE. Amaryllis have long, elegant stems and enormous flowers. Like peonies, this makes them top-heavy, which can be a problem when the bulbs are grown in pots. Outdoors, amaryllis are vulnerable to wind and other weather damage. Cutting the stems ensures you’ll enjoy perfect, undamaged flowers.
FOUR. Not everyone has a good place to display flowers that are more than 2 feet tall. Cutting the stems of your amaryllis means you can display them in almost any vase you choose. Consider adding greens and other flowers to complement the blooms.
Types of Amaryllis for Cutting
All amaryllis are good for cutting, so grow the colors and flower styles that appeal to you. Some varieties naturally have shorter (or longer) stems, bigger (or smaller) flowers and earlier (or later) bloom times. The more bulbs you plant, the more options you’ll have for creating arrangements to enjoy in your own home and to share with friends. Just three large bulbs will give you 6 to 9 stems and between 24 and 40 blossoms!
Plan for Different Blooms Times
Most amaryllis bulbs come from either Holland or Israel. In recent years, South Africa and South America have also begun producing bulbs for export. With amaryllis now coming from two hemispheres, growers are able to deliver a continuous supply of cut flowers, almost year-round.
If you want to have amaryllis flowers for holiday bouquets, plant bulbs from the Southern Hemisphere. They arrive eager to bloom, and if planted by early November, they usually flower for the holidays.
Bulbs from the Northern Hemisphere typically bloom between January and March. The sooner you plant them, the quicker they’ll bloom. Note that each variety is on a slightly different schedule. To get a succession of flowers, plant a number of different varieties and don’t plant all the bulbs at the same time. Learn more here: When Will My Amaryllis Bloom?
When and How to Cut the Stems
For the longest vase life, cut the stems before the flowers open. Wait until the first buds have puffed out and are soft (as shown above).
Use a sharp knife to cut the stem just an inch or so above the bulb. Amaryllis stems are hollow, so take care to support the stem as you are making the cut. Put the flowers into a tall, clean vase of room temperature water and then move the vase to a cool place for a few hours or overnight. Once the flowers have rested, you can recut the stems to whatever length suits your vase or arrangement.
Pollen can stain the petals of an amaryllis. If you’re concerned about this, you may remove the pollen just as you would from a lily. Using a tissue, gently grab the pollen anthers and pull away from the flower head. The pollen will come off easily.
How to Display Amaryllis as Cut Flowers
Amaryllis look fabulous no matter how you display them — combined with greens and other flowers or on their own.
If you plan to leave the stems relatively long, choose a tall vase with a heavy bottom. Clear vases work well for amaryllis because they accentuate the long line of the stems. In fact, clear glass vases work nicely even if you cut the stems short. Stoneware crocks also work well and provide the necessary weight to balance the flowers.
Always start with a squeaky-clean vase. Add floral food to the water, following proper dilution rates. (For an alternative to floral food, add 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp bleach to a quart of lukewarm water.)
Change the water in the vase twice a week. Always take a few extra moments to wash the vase and remove bacteria that can clog the stems. Then add water and fresh preservative. Re-cutting the stem each time you change the water will maximize vase life.
Over time, the bottom of the amaryllis stem will tend to split and curl. If you don’t like this look, you can wrap floral tape around the bottom of the stem so the tape adheres to itself. Or use a rubber band. Give the stem a fresh cut right below the tape or rubber band.
If you want to keep the stems tall and straight and ensure they don’t break, you can insert a bamboo cane into the hollow stem. Measure and cut the cane to size before you insert it. For something completely different, consider suspending the flowers from above. Hold the flower upside down, fill the stem with water, and use a cotton ball to plug the end.
More Tips for Enjoying Amaryllis as Cut Flowers
As with all cut flowers, amaryllis last longer when you keep the flowers cool and out of the sun. At night, consider moving them into an even cooler area — just make sure there’s no danger they’ll freeze.
When the flowers begin to fade, use scissors to nip off individual blooms and give other blossoms a chance to enjoy their own moment in the spotlight.
Amaryllis bulbs are available for shipping from mid-October through mid-December. Next time you order, add a few extra bulbs and enjoy the fun of growing and arranging your own mid-winter bouquets! You’ll find our complete selection HERE.