How to Pick an Amaryllis Bulb That Blooms
"...over the years, I have tried to pick an Amaryllis bulb that will bloom and failed. What do I need to get?" - Amanda
Hi Amanda, don't get discouraged, Amaryllis are easy and fun to grow. I love to give them as gifts, especially because one can watch them grow on a daily basis, especially in the middle of winter when the weather outside is cold, the landscape is covered with snow and there is nothing green within miles.
What to Look for in Amaryllis Bulbs
First, don't pick a bulb that is all brown, without any growth showing. When buying loose bulbs, it's a gamble whether you are getting an Amaryllis bulb that stored enough energy to bloom before it was removed from soil, dried and shipped for sale.
Most Amaryllis are sold in gift boxes. Don't be afraid to gently open the box and look inside. You are looking for an Amaryllis bulb that already has a bud tip showing. The bud tips are easy to spot from leaf tips because they are thicker. Leaf starts are good to have, too, but it you only see leaf starts, the bulb may not bloom.
In the following photo, the bud tip is on the right, the leaf tip is on the left.
If an Amaryllis bud is not showing any growth by the time it is in a box at a retail store, chances are it didn't get enough energy stored in the bulb before it was harvested. If you are buying Amaryllis bulbs for gifts, pass on those, you want a bud tip showing.
Also don't be afraid if the bud tip is all white, that just means it has not been exposed to light to turn green. This bulb will still bloom once the emerging Amaryllis bud tip is exposed to sun to turn green.
See the leaves starting on the left? Don't cut off the leaves, that will help recharge the bud after it blooms.
I try to pick Amaryllis buds as they are starting at the bulb base but if you need something blooming sooner, pick the bulb bud several inches taller. Either way, once the bulb is in soil, the plant will keep growing until it blooms.
Actually I have bought Amaryllis bulbs on sale that bloomed without soil but it took extra energy from the bulb and took longer for the bulb to recuperate before it bloomed again. Even if you pick an Amaryllis bulb that's several inches high, get it into soil as soon as you can and water. That will help the bulb get nutrients and keep the Amaryllis bulb healthy.
Ok, now for a little test. Look at this photo and tell me, which one is the emerging Amaryllis bud and which side has the emerging leaves?
Amaryllis Bulb Care
Once the Amaryllis bulb leaves die back, the bulb should rest for a couple of months before you water it to get it started again. In other words, don't water it for a couple of months - how easy is that.
I have some Amaryllis bulbs that are 6 years old now, so much fun to see them repeatedly blooming. And they are quite large now, too!
Good luck, let me know how you do on your next Amaryllis bulb shopping trip!