A Complete Guide To Amaryllis Hardiness

Hardy amaryllis

In this guide I will help you understand how hardy amaryllis is. You will learn what temperatures are best for this beautiful flowering succulent and in what locations it can be used outdoors. I will also cover the best practices for looking after amaryllis in the winter and what to do with the bulb so you can reuse it next year.

Are amaryllis hardy?

Surprisingly as it may seem, amaryllis actually only comes in 2 species.  Amaryllis belladonna and amaryllis paradisicola are the only two species that are truly amaryllis plants. These species of amaryllis are tropical flowers.

However, in the US (and also in the UK) several subspecies of Amaryllidaceae are marketed and sold as amaryllis. Most plants sold as amaryllis are species of the genus Amaryllidaceae and are subtropical plants. They are much more hardy than amaryllis proper.

Amaryllis proper. amaryllis belladonna and amaryllis paradisicola, are not hardy. However Amaryllis Sonatini, that is marketed as amaryllis even though it is actually a genus of Amaryllidaceae, is a hardy plant. This means that any Hippeastrum species that is sold as amaryllis is hardy.

To know if you have a hardy amaryllis or a non-hardy amaryllis you must identify your specific species of plant.

Wild amaryllis belladonna in rocky soil
Wild amaryllis belladonna in rocky soil

As a large majority of amaryllis sold in the US is in fact hippeastrum, which have been incorrectly marketed as amaryllis, the odds are strong that your particular plant is hardy. However, to be sure you should identify your specific species of amaryllis.

Are amaryllis frost hardy?

So, although Hippeastrum amaryllis are considered hardy plants are they frost hardy?

Amaryllis are not frost hardy. All species of plants sold as amaryllis must be protected from frost. If amaryllis is subjected to freezing or almost freezing temperatures it will almost certainly die.

Under no circumstances should you allow an amaryllis plant or bulb to be subjected to frost. Frost will kill amaryllis.

In fact, amaryllis require warm temperatures to grow. Temperatures of between 70° and 90°F are ideal for amaryllis. Hence it is only really advisable to cultivate outdoor amaryllis if you live in USDA climate zones 9 through 11.

Although many gardeners in USDA climate zone 8 will grow amaryllis outdoors they need to provide adequate winter protection for their plants in the colder months due to the risk of frost.

How cold hardy are amaryllis?

If the plant will not survive frost or freezing temperatures then how cold hardy are amaryllis?

Amaryllis are not very cold hardy. Amaryllis species are tropical, and subtropical, and will not survive very cold weather. Amaryllis should not be left in temperatures that go below 40° F. In areas that have months colder than that, amaryllis should be kept indoors. Freezing temperatures will kill an amaryllis bulb.

So, although the hippeastrum species of plants that are sold as amaryllis are much more hardy than amaryllis belladonna and amaryllis paradisicola, they are still not cold hardy.

Amaryllis houseplants can be brought outside in the warmer summer months in most US locations but when the colder weather starts to appear amaryllis should be brought into the more temperate temperatures of your home.

Will amaryllis survive outside?

Can you bring your amaryllis houseplant outside, or plant an amaryllis bulb outside, and expect it to survive?

Amaryllis can survive outside in the summer months. Amaryllis can be left outside, or grown in the yard, all-year-round in USDA climate zones 9 through 11. It can also be left outside in USDA climate zone 8 though it must be given winter protection against possible frost. In all other zones amaryllis should be brought indoors in the colder months. 

Amaryllis growing outside in climate zone 10
Amaryllis growing outside in climate zone 10

For a more thorough guide to using amaryllis outside read this article which is dedicated to that subject matter.

Will amaryllis survive cold weather?

So we can see that amaryllis can be left outside all year round in certain climate zones and that it will happily live outside in the summer, but will it survive cold weather when the fall and winter come?

Amaryllis will not fare well in cold weather that falls below 40°F. Ideally you should not allow amaryllis to experience temperatures below 50°F, as the species of amaryllis you have will be either tropical or subtropical.

I have read in some forums, and online chat threads, that amaryllis can withstand freezing temperatures. This is absolutely incorrect information!  Freezing temperatures will kill an amaryllis plant.

Personally, I never leave amaryllis in temperatures below 50° F as I know it is just not good for the bulb.

Although it is possible for an amaryllis to survive in temperatures of around 40° F for short periods of time, I really don’t recommend subjecting your plant to such low temperatures. Leaving your plant in such cold conditions puts stress on the bulb and will likely shorten the life of your plant.

How to take care of an amaryllis plant in winter?

So, as I have outlined, leaving amaryllis outside in winter in most US locations is simply not an option. Likewise, allowing the bulb to come in contact with sustained cold temperatures below 50° F is also not such a great idea. So, what should you do with amaryllis in the winter?

Indoor amaryllis can be left alone in the winter. They require no special attention. Unless you live in USDA climate zones 9 through 11, amaryllis should removed from the ground in winter and stored indoors. In USDA climate zone 8 the plant can be left outside but it must be given frost protection in the colder months.

For a more in-depth guide to looking after amaryllis after blooming has completed and the bulb enters a stage of dormancy read this article.

Can you keep amaryllis for next year?

Many amaryllis owners dispose of the plant bulb when its leaves turn yellow and fall away and they are left with a bare bulb. This is a mistake.

You can, and should, keep amaryllis for next year. It is possible to leave an indoor amaryllis in its pot during dormancy or you can remove the bulb and store it on kitchen paper for 2 months in a dimly lit room with a temperature between 55° – 59°F. This allows the bulb to rest and ensures a vibrant, colorful bloom next year.

Not only can you keep amaryllis for next year, you can also make it rebloom in the same year (though I don’t advise doing that as it puts stress on the bulb).

An amaryllis bulb will lose all its leaves after blooming has finished because it is entering a state of dormancy. During dormancy the bulb rests. This usually lasts 2 months but can last up to 3 months.

Unfortunately, because all the foliage disappears when the bulb rests, and all that is left is a bare bulb, many plant owners mistakenly think their plant has died and so dispose of the bulb.

Dormancy, and a lack of foliage, is just a natural part of the growth stages of amaryllis. There is nothing wrong with the plant. It is just resting.

So, whatever you do, don’t throw away your amaryllis after it blooms. This is a perennial plant that will continue to flower every year. Amaryllis can live for decades as long as they get the minimum care requirements they need.

An important point to note is that your amaryllis should not be watered when it is dormant. Watering the bulb will stimulate new growth and restrict the bulb from resting. Read my amaryllis watering guide for information on watering this succulent.

Once the bulb leaves its dormant state, and shows signs of new growth, you should replant it. Even if you left the plant in its original pot while it rested the bulb should still be replanted in fresh soil (I only use this Miracle-Gro potting mix because I’ve had such great success with it, though a succulent potting mix would probably be ok to use).

Read this guide for the complete process you should follow when replanting the bulb.

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