Amaryllis Growth Stages


Amaryllis plants are fascinating to watch grow. What is their typical life cycle?
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Growing amaryllis from seed is a rewarding experience, albeit time-consuming, undertaking. It might take three to fourteen years for a seed-sprouted amaryllis to bloom.

Learn everything there is to know about amaryllis seed propagation and growth stages.  This way, you might just be able to produce a beautiful bloom that growers will lust after.

General Information

The name amaryllis is slightly misleading because it’s common name is the same name as the Amaryllis genus, but it actually belongs to the Hippeastrum genus. Hippeastrum is Greek for “horseman’s star” or “knight’s star,” owing to the star-shaped flowers.

Hippeastrum is a tropical plant found in South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. These plants have yielded a variety of medicinally beneficial chemicals, one of which has shown promise as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Each plant has 6-10 inch trumpet-shaped flowers that grow on 1-2 food stalks.

While red and white are the most prevalent colors, flowers can also be pink, salmon-orange, apricot-colored, rose, or deep merlot. Bicolor varieties include purplish and green, as well as picotee (petals with a distinct edge color).

Amaryllis multiply by creating “daughter” bulbs, which grow alongside the “mother” bulbs. It takes three to five years for a daughter bulb to mature before it can be commercialized.

They can be produced from seed, but maturing and flowering may take three to fourteen years.

They are delicate perennials that benefit from fertilization when actively growing. If properly cared for, this plant has the potential to live for up to 75 years.

Blooming red reginae flower under the sun

Seed Stage

A plant’s life cycle begins with a seed.

Black, wrinkled seeds are housed in seed pods found at the bottom of the withering flower, underneath the petals.

Because Amaryllis seeds have a short shelf life, after being extracted from the pod, they should be dried for a few days and planted immediately. Because they are tropical plants, no cold stratification is required prior planting.

seed pod of an amaryllis flower

Germination

Amaryllis seeds usually germinate in one to four weeks when given ideal conditions. When this occurs, small grass-like leaves emerge from the seed.

As with most seeds, they require consistently moist, but not saturated soil. 

When the seed germinates, it produces a single root that develops into a bulb.

If you are planting your own seeds, you can consider using a damp paper towel in a ziplock bag to increase the success rate for germination. 

Foliage and Bulb Growth

Sprouts resemble grass blades and need many years to completely mature. As they are growing foliage, their roots are simultaneously growing into bulbets. 

Before you may expect to see flowers, the root of a fertile seed must develop into a bulb, and the bulb needs plenty of time to mature.

Patience is truly essential at this point! Leaves may turn brown and die from time to time,  but don’t fret; new leaves will emerge to replace them. While all of this is going on, bulbs are gently growing beneath the soil.

The bulbs will form over the first 2 to 3 years, and the plant will not become dormant over the winter, though development may be hindered.

After the second or third year, the plant may go into dormancy. This is a promising indicator! It means that the bulb is saving energy to snd will soon reward you with a gorgeous flower.
Full bloom period for an amaryllis plant grown from seed can take anywhere from 3 to 14 years.

mature amaryllis bulb in a small pot

Flowers Bloom

Each amaryllis stalk produces two to five huge flowers up to six inches big.

The flowers are composed of six tepals: three sepals and three inner petals.

The flowers have a female reproductive system that includes a stigma, or pollen receptor, that leads to the flower’s ovum or ovary.

Several stamens in their male reproductive system produce pollen to fertilize the stigma.

They can be pollinated as the flowering stage begins through self-pollination, cross-pollination by insects or wind, or human intervention.

Blooming pink amarylis flower

Pollination

When amaryllis produce flowers, they can now be pollinated. 

Amaryllis plants can self-pollinate or cross-pollinate with the assistance of pollinating agents called pollinators.

  • Autogamy is a kind of self-pollination in which pollen grains are transferred from the anther to the stigma within the same flower.
  • Geitonogamy is a kind of self-pollination in which pollen grains are transferred from the anther to the stigma between various flowers in the same plant. Though it appears to be cross-pollination and happens with the aid of pollinators, both gametes are derived from the very same plant.
  • Xenogamy is a type of cross-pollination in which pollen grains are transferred across the blooms of two distinct plants. Thus, pollen transfer from one plant’s anther to another plant’s stigma.

Flowers rely on pollinators, which are classified as biotic or abiotic in nature.

Biotic agents include animals, insects, butterflies, and other living organisms. Pollination by insects is referred to as entomophily, while pollination by birds is referred to as ornithophily.

Abiotic agents includes wind pollination.

Cross-breeding tends to yields better outcomes.

closeup picture of a pistil seeds of flower

Spreading Seeds

As the flowers wither, the little green nub at the base of the flower should develop into seed pods. Seed pods are fleshy, plump structures that cling to the tips of the flower stalks.

Amaryllis seed pods typically mature in four to six weeks. It is preferable to let them ripen on the plant while they are still attached to it. 

Ripe pods turn yellow or brown and crack open. After the seed pods have cracked, you can collect the seeds. 

The simplest approach is to snip the pod from the plant. Shake the pod to release the seeds, which should fall onto the container you have chosen or use a plain piece of paper. This will make it easier for you to find the seeds.

In most cases, pods are divided into three halves, each containing 50-60 seeds. Any that appear to be damaged or moldy should be thrown away.

Allow them to dry on a  tray for a few more days – up to a week.

After the seeds fall to the ground or are harvested, the plant life cycle begins all over again.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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