Amaryllis bulbs are easy to grow and have become very popular winter blooming plants, especially around the holidays. Since they aren’t very fussy, you can grow amaryllis plants in pretty much any container you want. Growing amaryllis in water is a fun way to display these gorgeous flowering bulbs, and would make a great gift too.
Growing amaryllis in water
Amaryllis flower bulbs can’t be grown in water forever, but they will survive in water long enough to grow and bloom. Growing amaryllis in water rather than dirt is a cute way to display holiday flowers, and it’s a really fun DIY project too.
- Flower vase or bulb vase
- Decorative pebbles, rock, or glass marbles
- Bare root amaryllis bulb
- Floral snips
Any flower vase you have on hand would work, or you can buy a vase that’s specifically made for growing bulbs in water. For my amaryllis flower bulbs, I chose to use a 6″ tall cylinder vase and a 6″ bulb vase. I also could have used my 10 1/2″ tall cylinder vase or another glass vase I had on hand, but I wanted to match the bulb sizes with the vases, and my bulbs aren’t very big.
The pebbles are not only for decoration, but they also help to stabilize the bulb and hold it up out of the water. You could use decorative rock or glass marbles rather than pebbles. For my project I chose to use two kinds of river rock, one is multi-colored rock, and the other is plain black (which will look stunning with my red amaryllis flowers!). If you choose to use a bulb vase, then your amaryllis bulb can sit on top of the rim and you won’t need any pebbles (unless you like them for decorative purposes).
Steps for planting an amaryllis bulb in water
Step 1: Trim off any dead roots – Before planting your amaryllis bulb in water, check the roots and use your floral snips to remove any that aren’t firm and white. Dead or damaged roots will decay and make the water get yucky (and stinky) very quickly.
Step 2: Rinse dirt off the roots – If your amaryllis bulb was previously growing in dirt, then you’ll want to rinse any remaining debris and dirt off the roots before planting the bulbs in water. This will help to keep the water clear and fresh longer too.
Step 3: Position amaryllis bulb in the vase – Position your amaryllis bulb in the vase at the level you want it. If your vase is shallow, you can trim the roots a bit to make the bulb sit lower in the vase (but don’t trim off all the roots). If your amaryllis bulb doesn’t have many roots yet, then you can fill the vase with pebbles first (step 4), and place the bulb (pointy side up) on top of the pebbles.
Step 4: Add pebbles to your vase – Slowly add your rocks, pebbles or marbles to the vase. If you’re working with a glass vase, take care not to drop them into the vase or it could break the glass. You might find it easier to tilt the vase sideways so the rocks will slide into the bottom slower. Rotate the vase as you work to fill it with pebbles so that your amaryllis bulb stays centered in the vase, and to hide as many of the roots as you can. You can also gently shake the vase so the pebbles will settle evenly.
Step 5: Fill vase with water – Fill the vase with water so that the water line is below the bottom of the bulb. The trick to successfully growing amaryllis in water is to make sure the bulb never touches the water.
So when you fill the vase, ensure your amaryllis bulb is completely above the water line or it will only rot (and take it from someone who has made this mistake, a rotting amaryllis bulb does NOT smell good. Yuck!).
Step 6: Place your bulbs in a sunny location – Once your amaryllis bulb is planted in water, move it to a warm, sunny spot, and within a few weeks it should start to sprout. Sometimes amaryllis bulbs will grow leaves first, and sometimes the flower will grow first. Don’t worry if the leaves start to grow first, that doesn’t mean your amaryllis won’t flower.
How to care for amaryllis bulbs in water
Caring for an amaryllis growing in water is a bit different than caring for a potted amaryllis. You have to keep an eye on the water level in your vase and make sure doesn’t evaporate completely, you don’t want the roots of your amaryllis to dry out. Try to maintain the water level so it stays just below the bottom of the bulb. You’ll also want to make sure to keep the water fresh so that it stays clean. Flush the vase with fresh water once a week for best results.
Once your amaryllis starts to sprout, the flower spike will grow quickly. Amaryllis flowers tend to grow towards the light, so turn the vase every day in order to keep it growing straight. With proper care, you will be rewarded with gorgeous amaryllis blooms in a few short weeks.
The downside of forcing amaryllis bulbs in water
Growing amaryllis bulbs in water is a fun project, and can add a lovely dramatic effect to your holiday decor, but… there is a downside to growing bulbs in water. Bulbs forced in water will usually need to be thrown out because they won’t grow very well afterward. If your amaryllis bulb is firm and isn’t showing any signs of rot after you remove it from the vase of water, then you certainly could try growing it again. But it may take a few years of growing the bulb in dirt before it will bloom again.
More posts about growing plants indoors
- Add an amaryllis to your December décor
- What to do with amaryllis bulbs in the fall
- Tips for keeping paperwhites upright
- 15 Easy to care for houseplants
Have you ever tried growing amaryllis in water before? Share your tips in the comments section below.