In this article I cover all the essentials of caring for amaryllis flowers, from the cutting of the blooms to the aftercare needed so you can have beautiful cut amaryllis flowers that look vibrant and last much longer. I also cover the subject of deadheading amaryllis flowers. This information applies to flowers still on the plant and also cut amaryllis flowers in vases or flower arrangements.
Table of Contents
- Cutting amaryllis flowers
- How to cut amaryllis so the flowers last longer
- When to cut amaryllis flowers
- How deadhead amaryllis
- How to use amaryllis as cut flowers
Cutting amaryllis flowers
Amaryllis are an easy-care succulent found in many households across America.
Amaryllis blooms are beautiful and come in a variety of different colors.
Because they come in a variety of different colors with varying petal designs many people will grow different varieties and cut the flowers for use in vases.
Of course you can also buy cut amaryllis flowers for vase use and these flowers will require the same aftercare as those you cut off your own plant.
So, it is no wonder that many flower lovers want to know if this beautiful succulent can be used a cut flower.
Using amaryllis as a cut flower for vases and flower arrangements
A question I often hear is, “can you use amaryllis as a cut flower for vases or flower arrangements?”
Amaryllis can be used as a cut flower.
You can safely remove amaryllis flowers for vase use by cutting the stalks about 1 inch above the bulb.
Cut amaryllis should be placed in water that is mixed with floral food.
The water/feed should be replaced every few days and split amaryllis stems recut.
There are a myriad of different amaryllis flowers available though, as I pointed out in this article, most bulbs and plants that are sold in the USA, and also in the UK, are not in fact not actually amaryllis.
Variations of genus of the family Amaryllidaceae are commonly sold as amaryllis simply because the two plants are so similar in appearance and care requirements.
Hippeastrum, with its 90 different species, is the most common plant that is sold in the UK and marked as being amaryllis even though it is not technically amaryllis.
For UK readers who need an in depth guide about growing and caring for amaryllis read this article.
In the US there are a wide variety of succulents that are marketed and sold as amaryllis.
Luckily though, all plants that are marketed and sold as amaryllis, in both America and Britain, require the same care and so you should not be concerned that you need to take a different approach for your specific plant.
All information in this article applies to any plant that is labeled amaryllis even if it is not technically an amaryllis plant.
How to cut amaryllis so the flowers last longer
Amaryllis flowers bud from the tip of long straight stalks that grow separately from the leaves.
When cutting an amaryllis flower almost the entire stalk should be removed from the bulb as this will give the flower the best chance for a longer vase-life.
Make sure you cut the amaryllis flower low down on the stem. Cut it about 1″ above the bulb.
This gives you a long stem which, as you will see, helps to prolong the life of the flower.
Where to amaryllis after flowering
I personally cut my amaryllis leaves very close to the bulb.
Once the bud has opened and has started to flower I will take a pair of very sharp pruning scissors and make a cut in the stalk about 1 inch above the point where it protrudes from the bulb.
How to cut amaryllis flowers
When taking flower cuttings on any plant I always make the cut at an angle of about 45 degrees.
Why do this?
Well, cutting the stem at a 45 degree angle creates a larger surface area at the base of the stalk.
This is the point at which the stalk absorbs water.
By creating a larger area you give the stalk an opportunity to absorb more water and thus more nutrients.
Making angled cuts in stems will make the most amount of positive difference when it comes to growing new plants from cuttings. Taking this approach will also help prolong the life of vase flowers.
It is important you use a sharp cutting tool.
I use the compact Vivosun with precision blades for flower cutting as they are titanium coated and so tend to keep their sharp edge much longer than garden pruning shears and they are cheap.
However, if you do a lot of outdoor gardening then you will probably be better using a pair of high quality all-round hand shears like these. There is no need to have 2 pruners, unless you want to keep your indoor and outdoor garden equipment separate.
When to cut amaryllis flowers
Knowing when to cut amaryllis flowers can be tough for many plant owners.
Obviously you will want their flowers to last as long as possible and so it can be confusing knowing exactly when the right time is to cut the flowers.
So at what stage of blooming should you cut amaryllis flowers?
The best stage to cut amaryllis flowers is when they are in mid-bloom.
Cutting them before the flower has opened may prevent blooming, while cutting them after full bloom will shorten their vase-life.
A flower that is opening and then cut will continue to open to full bloom if placed in the appropriate nutrient-rich water mixture.
You can see in the image below the best stage at which to cut an amaryllis flower.
I have given you a short window between when the flower starts to open and just before it fully blooms.
Any point during this stage of blooming is ideal to cut the flower for use in a vase.
The above visual image should be enough for you to know when to cut amaryllis flowers so they last the longest amount of time in a vase.
Just be sure to follow the care advice for your cut amaryllis flowers I have given below.
How deadhead amaryllis
As an amaryllis owner you may be aware that it is not really a good idea to cut amaryllis leaves off the bulb.
But what dead flowers … should you deadhead amaryllis?
It is perfectly fine to remove dead flowers from amaryllis.
You can snip dead flowers at the tip of the stalk.
It is also perfectly fine to remove the entire stalk when its flowers die.
However, avoid doing this when the bulb is about to enter dormancy.
As blooms fade and die on amaryllis you can remove each flower individually to keep the aesthetics of your plant for a vibrant bloom.
If you want to, you can also remove the entire stem of a dead bloom but cutting the stalk about 1 inch above the bulb.
This can encourage new flower growth but you must be careful not to do it when the plant is starting to enter a phase of dormancy.
Amaryllis bulbs will go dormant for between 2 – 3 months in order to rest and gather new resources for future growth cycles.
It is essential you allow the bulb to rest at this stage as forcing it to rebloom will weaken the plant and greatly lessen its life span.
It will also lead to a total lack of blooms in the future.
How to know when not to cut dead flowers
So how will you know when you should not cut dead foliage off your plant because your amaryllis is entering a stage of dormancy?
It’s easy to tell when an amaryllis bulb is going dormant by paying attention to what its leaves are doing.
Amaryllis leaves tell you everything you need to know about the plant (read this care guide to amaryllis leaves).
When the tips of amaryllis leaves start to turn yellow that is when you know that the bulb is preparing to go dormant.
At this point do not cut off any of the foliage (though you can deadhead individual flowers).
Stop watering the plant and do not add any fertilizer to the soil.
Once the foliage has fallen off the plant you can remove the bulb from the soil and put it on some kitchen paper or newspaper and store it in a cool dimly lit room.
A fully potted plant can also be placed in the same environment if you want to leave the bulb where it is.
However, moving amaryllis during dormancy is not completely necessary.
An amaryllis bulb will rest, if left alone, without you needing to move the plant or the bulb as amaryllis, unlike many other plants, does not require darkness to go dormant.
You may want to remove the bulb from the soil is if you are growing the plant outside (see this guide).
You may also want to remove the bulb when you wish to change the bloom time of your amaryllis by regulating its growth stages.
You can read more about what to do with an amaryllis bulb after it blooms here.
How to use amaryllis as cut flowers
Cut amaryllis flowers should always be placed in a vase that contains water that has been mixed with a good floral feed.
If amaryllis flowers are left in just a vase, or even put in a vase that contains just water, they will not last very long.
Cut amaryllis flowers that are not given nutrients will begin to discolor, fade and lose petals in just a few short days.
However, if you make sure the flowers have a good source of nutrients then you can sustain the life of cut amaryllis flowers and have them for weeks instead of just days.
Unfortunately, most people think a flower is dead the moment it is removed from a plant but this is not the case.
The cells of the cut flower and stem are still very much alive. The stalk of the flower remains capable of gathering and sending nutrients to the flower for several weeks after it has been removed from the plant.
So, by ensuring those living cells in the stalk and flower continue to receive nourishment you can keep a cut amaryllis flower alive, colorful and perky for up to 2 weeks.
So how do you do that?
How to look after amaryllis cut flowers
To ensure your cut amaryllis flowers last as long as possible you should follow the schedule outlined below.
Schedule for looking after cut amaryllis flowers:
- Start with a well-cleaned vase.
- Place a mixture of water and a good quality floral food into the vase.
- Place the cut flowers into the vase ensuring the lower part of the stalk is sitting in the water.
- Place the vase in a bright warm spot but not in direct sunlight.
- Replace the water/feed mixture in the vase every other day or at least twice per week.
- When the bottom of the flower stem starts to split or curl, at the point of your initial cut, trim it back to allow for increased nutrient flow to the flower.
Using flora food is essential for prolonging the life of your cut amaryllis flowers.
I recommend using this flower food from Chrysal as I have found it to be the most effective for not only prolonging the life of cut amaryllis flowers but also for prolonging their vibrancy in the vase.
But, don’t be afraid to use any good quality floral food that you have available as most brands will suffice.
How long you can expect cut amaryllis flowers to last
Cut amaryllis flowers can last a long time when you look after them correctly.
But how long is a long time?
Cut amaryllis that is placed in a vase with a water/floral feed mixture will last up to 2 weeks.
To ensure the longest life possible, change the water/feed mixture every day and cut back split or curled stems on the stalk every few days to allow for better nutrient flow to the flower.
How to make amaryllis flowers last longer
The best way to make your cut amaryllis flowers last longer is to follow the advice I gave above regarding using floral food mixed with fresh water.
Giving cut flowers nutrients is essential for prolonging their life and this is a step that many people skip.
So, add flower feed, such as this floral food from Chrysal, to fresh water every few days and you will ensure your amaryllis flowers last up to 2 weeks in the vase.
It is also possible to keep amaryllis flowers that are still on the plant vibrant and healthy for up to 4 weeks by following the proper care routine.
If you want to know how to make amaryllis flowers last longer while they remain on the plant read this article.