How to Grow Amaryllis from Seed

The large, showy flowers of amaryllis, Hippeastrum x hybridum, can add stunning color to the garden and make for the perfect indoor display.

Suitable for outdoor cultivation in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, the flowers can be forced into bloom indoors and are a popular addition to winter holiday decor.

Amaryllis can be propagated by the home gardener in three ways: dividing offsets, dividing bulbs, and growing from seed.

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In this article, we’ll discuss how to propagate amaryllis from seed and the benefits of doing so.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Why grow Amaryllis from seed?

Starting these dramatic flowers from seed is definitely a process, as it can take three to five years for the plant to bloom, depending on the variety.

Since some types of amaryllis are expensive or may be difficult to find, it may make sense to collect seeds from existing plants.

However, you need to keep in mind that most of these plants are hybrids, and the seeds you collect will not be true to the parent plant but may display some of its characteristics.

Because Amaryllis hybridize easily, by cross pollinating and collecting seeds from your own plants, you can easily create brand new, unique varieties!

If you want to clone the parent plant, you should consider bulb re-sectioning or offset separation, see our guide to learn more.

Since seeds are not widely available on the market, the best way to obtain them is from other growers or by pollinating and hybridizing your own flowers.

how to harvest seeds

Flowers grown outdoors are likely to be pollinated naturally by insects, but must be helped with hand pollination as well as indoor plants.


The flowers are self-fertile, so you can do this even if you only have one plant. In the case of hybrids the seeds will not produce a perfect clone, but the plants will likely retain some of the characteristics of the parent plant.

Or if you have more than one variety, you can experiment with cross-pollination.

To pollinate your amaryllis by hand, take a small paint brush and gently brush it over the anthers of the flower to collect the pollen.

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Pollen is the yellow dust that covers the tips of the curved stamens, as you can see in the image below:

You will then use the brush to transfer the collected pollen to another flower – or the stigma of the same one. The stigma is at the top of the style, extending from the center of the flower.

For best results, repeat this process once a day over the course of a few days to ensure that pollination is successful.

If this is done correctly, as the flower begins to fade, you will see a small green pod begin to develop behind the petals, at the base of the blossom.

Over time this pod will swell and eventually turn yellow or brown, dry out, and split open rapidly. This ripening process will usually take about four to six weeks.

collecting seeds

When the pods are dry and cracking, you can harvest them from the plant. Pods are typically divided into three sections, each containing 50-60 seeds – so you’ll have a lot!

Keep the ripe pods in a dark place for a few days to dry.

To collect the seeds, shake the pods over a bowl or plate and allow the seeds to fall. Throw away any that are damaged or moldy.

Spread them out on a paper plate or tray to dry for a few more days — or up to a week.

For best results, you should sow the seeds as soon as possible after drying, as they have a short shelf life and don’t store very well. Since these are tropical plants, they do not require a cold stratification period before planting.

If you need to store them, dry the seeds for a week, and then keep them in a sealed container in a cool dark place like a pantry. Keep in mind that the longer they are in storage, they will lose viability.

how to sow

You can sow your seeds directly into a container or into individual seed trays filled with potting mix mixed with perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage.

Sow one seed per cell using flats, or an inch apart in your container, and cover with a little potting medium, about eight inches deep. Water in the well.

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Keep the potting mix evenly moist, but don’t let it become waterlogged. In three to five weeks, you will notice they have sprouted as they will produce small grass-like leaves.

Alternatively, you may choose to germinate the seeds before planting them in the soil.

One advantage of this method is that you can start a large number of them, and only plant those that have actually sprouted.

One way to do this is to float them in water. This can be done by taking a clean glass or baking pan and filling it with at least an inch of lukewarm water. Spread the seeds on top, discarding any that sink to the bottom, as these will not be viable.

Cover the container with a loose lid, and set it in a warm area somewhere you can remember to check it daily and top up the water if any has evaporated.

In one to four weeks, the viable seeds will germinate and produce a single root. This root will eventually develop into a bulb. When the root reaches a half-inch or longer, the plant is ready to plant.

An alternative method of germination is to wrap the seeds in a damp paper towel and place them in a sealed ziplock bag. Check the bag daily and mist with water – don’t let the paper dry out.

It should take one to four weeks for the seeds to germinate, and you can plant them when the roots are at least a half-inch long.

Plant the germinated seeds in sterile potting mix in a well-draining, small individual container or in groups in a larger container. Make sure the containers are at least three to four inches deep.

Use a toothpick to make a small hole for the root. Place the root gently into the hole, allowing the seed coat to rest on top of the soil or just barely covered. Leave an inch or two of space between seedlings, as they don’t mind being a little crowded.

Water gently and keep in a warm place away from direct sunlight.

Don’t forget to label and date your utensils!

As the roots grow into the bulblets, they can be transplanted into larger pots.

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seedling care

The sprouts will initially resemble a blade of grass and will continue to grow slowly over the next few years.

You’ll need to lightly fertilize your seedlings once every week or two weeks, with a liquid fertilizer such as MiracleGro All Purpose Plant Food, available on Amazon, diluted to quarter-strength.

Miraclegro All Purpose Plant Food

Make sure it’s diluted, or the fertilizer could damage the little plants.

Seedlings should be placed in a warm location, such as a greenhouse or indoors on a windowsill that gets plenty of indirect light.

The soil should be allowed to dry down to an inch between waterings, but it should not be allowed to dry out completely – or become oversaturated. You can keep them under grow lights during the winter months.

When the leaves are four to six inches tall, you can transplant your seedlings into individual pots at least six inches deep to develop the bulbs.

Patience is the key! Sometimes leaves may appear brown and die, but don’t worry, new leaves should form to replace them. While all this is happening, the bulbs are slowly growing under the soil.

For the first two to three years, the bulbs are developing and the plants will not go dormant during the winter, but growth may be slow.

After the second or third year, the plant may go into its first dormant stage. This is a good sign! This means the bulb is forming a flower and should soon reward you with a profusion of blooms.

With good care, it should bloom once a year thereafter.

worth the wait

It’s true that starting amaryllis from seed is a process that requires a lot of patience, but it’s well worth the wait, in my opinion.

You’ll be able to create brand new hybrids for years to come and be rewarded with a bountiful display of unique and colorful flowers.

Have you grown amaryllis from seed? Share your stories and photos in the comments section below!

And for more information on growing amaryllis, check out these guides ahead:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. All rights reserved. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via MiracleGrow. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Claire Groom.