Amaryllis Bulbs: Why Size Matters

During the holiday season, amaryllis bulbs are readily available at a wide range of different prices. Here’s how to decide which bulbs are the best value.

Flower bulbs contain stored food energy. When a bulb starts growing, it uses these reserves to fuel its growth and flower production.

Like most bulbs, amaryllis are graded by size — which is measured in centimeters around the widest part of the bulb. For most amaryllis varieties, bulb sizes typically range from 26 to 36 cm. Larger bulbs have the energy that’s needed to produce more stems and more flowers than smaller bulbs:

26/28 cm – 1 stem (occasionally 2) with 3 to 4 flowers

28/30 cm – 1-2 stems with 3-4 flowers per stem

30/32 cm – 2 stems with 3-4 flowers per stem

32/34 cm – 2 stems (occasionally 3) with 4-5 flowers per stem

34/36 cm – 3 stems with 4-5 flowers per stem

Amaryllis Cherry Nymph

If you want the most dramatic display of flowers, buy the largest amaryllis bulbs you can find. A jumbo, 34/36 cm bulb will give you 3 extra-thick, extra-strong stems with 4 or 5 giant flowers per stem. Yet another benefit of buying large bulbs is bloom time. With 3 stems emerging at different times, you’ll have flowers in bloom for 3 to 4 weeks.

three amaryllis bulbs in a copper pot

Though smaller bulbs produce fewer flowers, they are less expensive and can still be a good buy. You can fit them into smaller containers or can plant two or three bulbs together. For a long-lasting display, consider combining these smaller bulbs with indoor plants such as cyclamen or oxalis.

So which amaryllis bulbs are the best value? If they are labeled by size and priced accordingly, they’re all a good value!

Note: The above information about amaryllis bulb sizes applies to standard amaryllis varieties. Some of the more unusual types naturally produce smaller than average flowers from smaller than average bulbs, so size is relative within a given type or variety. Cybister amaryllis, for example, have airy flowers with narrow petals and extra-long stamens. Even the largest size Cybister bulbs may measure just 26/28 cm.

Learn more about growing amaryllis: When Will My Amaryllis Bulb Bloom?, What to Do With Amaryllis Bulbs After They Bloom, How to Get An Amaryllis Bulb to Rebloom, How to Choose A Quality Amaryllis Bulb.

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