How to Make Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs

An Amaryllis that grows without any water, a vase or general care. Just stick it on a table and walk away. What is this sorcery?  Waxed Amaryllis bulbs. Here’s how to make them.

Now is the time to start thinking about getting some Amaryllis bulbs if you’d like to wax some so they’re ready to bloom at Christmas. I figure since I almost forgot all about it last year that maybe you did too. So consider this your fair warning reminder.

What’s a waxed amaryllis?

A couple of years ago I saw Amaryllis bulbs that had been dipped in wax at my local garden centre. I didn’t know what they were and figured they were just Amaryllis bulbs that had been dipped in wax to look pretty.  At around $34 for a bulb I wasn’t intrigued enough to read anymore about them on the box.

Fast forward to this year when I saw them again and realized the magic of them is the fact that you can just place them anywhere and they’ll grow.  Along a mantle, down the centre of a dining room table tucked into greenery.  They’re less expensive this year, around $20,  but they’re still a lot more than a plain Amaryllis bulb – which is between $8-$15 per bulb depending on the rarity and quality of it.

omgomgomgomgomg.  THIS is what my DIY dreams are made of.  I got to work immediately figuring this out.

Did I mention this would make a GREAT hostess gift this season?

After some online research and reading on Amaryllis bulbs I got a handle on it.  The wax part was fairly obvious.  Wax would hold the moisture in the bulb.  But according to the makers of these wax bulbs there was some super secret process the bulbs went through to make sure they’d bloom without additional water.

Since it was pretty easy to figure out how they got the Caramilk into the Caramilk bar I was pretty confident I’d crack the secret to the waxed bulbs.

I gave it some thought, did some more research and decided the two things you’d need to do to ensure success was twofold.

1. Soak the Amaryllis bulbs in water so they’re fully hydrated before you wax them.

and …

2. Cut off the bulb’s basal plate (the flat part the roots grow out of) to shock it into thinking it’s dying which forces it into trying desperately to reproduce itself – by flowering.

My experiment seems to have worked. And I have to say I like the way these homemade wax Amaryllis bulbs look better than the store bought ones.  For one thing, you can customize them.

At first glance I thought the store bought waxed bulbs were made with metallic wax, but it’s just regular paraffin wax that’s been spray painted.

If you have all the stuff you can also make coloured wax by mixing regular wax with wax dye, but I didn’t do that. I just wanted a quick DIY not a whole “thing” that would end up costing more money than just buying one pre-made.

So instead of trying to make metallic wax for instance, I gold leafed the bulb afterwards with gold leaf I found at the Dollar Store.  Other bulbs I left natural, with just white wax covering them, part of the darker bulb skin showing through and and most of the bulbs I sprinkled the white wax generously with white dollar store sparkles to make them glitter.

All in all this “I’m cheaping out” experiment has been a complete success and these waxed Amaryllis bulbs are going to be beautiful around the house throughout the holidays.

Here’s how to do it:

How to Make Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs

  1. Soak Amaryllis bulb in lukewarm water for 4-8 hours.
  2. Cut off the roots, including the basal plate.
  3. Let the bulb dry for a few hours.
  4. Melt wax (I used old candle stubs but if you don’t have those use some paraffin wax) over low heat.
  5. Paint the wax on the Amaryllis bulbs from the neck down covering the sides and base.
  6. Gold leaf or cover in sparkles if glitzy is your thing.
  7. Place the bulbs in a warm area of the house to encourage growth.

The length of time it takes to flower usually around 6 weeks with store bought Amaryllis bulbs.  I can’t give you a timeline on this because mine haven’t flowered yet, but the flower bud has popped up out of the bulb so I know it’s only a matter of time.

I save my short, burned candles all the time. Half the time I look at them in the cupboard and think WHAT am I saving this crap for.  The other half I pull them out and think WELL thank the lord I saved this crap. (I also use spent candles for making homemade fire starters.)

I didn’t dip the entire bulb into the hot wax because I felt like it would be too much of a shock to the bulb.  Painting it on felt more gentle.

Paint the wax on until there’s a good thick coating of wax all over the bulb.  It’ll take several layers.

The gold foil is VERY fiddly to get on the wax. Make sure your wax is still hot when you apply the gold foil and press it into the wax with your fingers or the palm of your hand until you think it’s really stuck.  And repeat.  Like a million times.

It’s a huge pain but the result is kindda breathtaking.

The easier way to fancy up the waxed bulb is to sprinkle it with sparkles as soon as you’re done waxing it.

I used white sparkles on white wax but you could do whatever you wanted.  Green sparkles on green wax, green sparkles on white wax, gold sparkles on white wax … how many more examples do you need?

I’ve also left my wax drippy looking. I did that on purpose. If you want things perfectly smooth just smooth the wax out with your finger or the brush while the wax is warm.


How long do waxed amaryllis bulbs last?

It takes an Amaryllis bulb around 3 weeks to show signs of growth after planting it.

It takes 6-12 weeks for the Amaryllis to *bloom* from the day it is planted.

You can speed this process up by keeping the bulb in a very warm room of 27 C (80F).  Conversely you can slow the blooming time down by putting it in a cool room of around 10 C (50 F).

Each amaryllis blooms will last about 5 days.

When to start them for Christmas blooms

Mid November.

This is a bit of a crapshoot because different varieties of amaryllis take different lengths of time to grow and bloom. But generally speaking, for Christmas blooms, you should plant your bulbs in early to mid November.

Bulbs you buy in a box kit from the grocery store or garden centre may have already sprouted in the box! If they have, you’ll get blooms a few weeks earlier – so plant them accordingly.

If a bulb shows NO signs of green growth, it will take a few weeks longer to produce a bloom. 

Can you regrow the waxed bulbs

If the entire growth plate at the bottom of the bulb isn’t completely cut off, there *is* a possibility that the amaryllis can live another day.

So when your amaryllis is done blooming you can either throw it in the garbage, scrape the wax off and compost the bulb, or scrape the wax off and replant the bulb in soil.  

For replanting follow these steps.

  1. After your waxed amaryllis has bloomed and the blooms have finished, cut the bloom stalks off, but leave the leaves on the plant.
  2. Scrape the wax off of the bulb.
  3. Plant it in soil and continue to care for it like any other house plant.
  4. Once spring weather arrives and frost is no longer a threat you can put the potted amaryllis outside for the summer, taking care of it as necessary. (you can take it out of the pot and plant it in the garden, but you’ll have to dig it up before frost and put it back into a pot)
  5. In the middle of August stop watering the amaryllis and wait for the leaves to turn brown and die back.
  6. Once died back you can dig up the bulb or remove it from its pot and store the bulb in a cool, dark place. (this is its dormancy phase)
  7. 8 weeks later it can be potted up or waxed again for winter blooming.*

*you don’t have to immediately pot it up after 8 weeks. You can wait another month before potting it up if you like.

Waxed bulb tips

  1. Don’t soak your bulb in water for longer than 8 hours. It can turn to mush.
  2. When you cut off the basal plate make sure you do it straight so your bulb isn’t tippy. Your flat cut is what will keep the bulb stable.
  3. If you’re using spent candles for your wax, like I did, cut the burnt part of the wick off otherwise it’ll get your wax dirty looking. Don’t worry about getting rid of the wick, the wax will just melt away from it.
  4. For heating your wax I HIGHLY recommend putting the wax in a tin can and setting that can in a pot with some water in the bottom. It keeps your pots clean. Plus if you have leftover wax you can just put the whole can, wax and all in the cupboard and pull it out when you need to wax something else.
  5. Don’t forget to wax the bottom of the bulb.  The whole point of waxing is to help the bulb retain moisture so as much of the bulb needs to be waxed as possible.
  6. I used Dollar Store gold leaf which was basically a mess of small gold leaf pieces. To make things easier you can buy whole sheets of gold leaf.

Amaryllis Bulb Buying Guide

When you buy your bulbs for waxing pay special attention to the size of the amaryllis. Amaryllis with HUGE flowers are going to be very top heavy and have a tendency to tip over.

Also pay attention to the bloom time. Different bulbs take different lengths of time to bloom. To get your flower to be on full display at the time you want you need to know how long that particular variety takes to flower.

Most grocery stores carry box kits of Amaryllis bulbs and that’s where I usually pick mine up. But if you want something other than the standard white or red flowers there are speciality bulbs you can order online.


Charisma

This red and white specialty Amaryllis looks paint spattered.

Coral

Not in love with the traditional red & white? This orangey coral coloured ones would look beautiful.

Apricot Parfait

More subtle, but still a deviation from red or white.

Cherry Nymph

Sure it’s red … but look at it! A double amaryllis with double the petals.

Those are just a few. If you go even further into Amaryllis world you can order from specialty places like Brecks but they’re already starting to sell out of a lot of bulbs.

Making these waxed bulbs is fun to do.  Like, 100%, I should totally have a bulb waxing party, fun.  Which of course would be much more fun than any other sort of waxing party.  It’s easy, the results are great and it’s weirdly satisfying to paint wax on a bulb then cover it with gold foil or sparkles.

Happy waxing.

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How to Make Waxed Amaryllis Bulbs

165 Comments

  1. Marcy says:

    I just did this project on Sunday and they look great ! Question – one already seems to have a crack -is there a tip to keep them from cracking? (ok, besides handing with care..) I’m worried about mailing the one I have to a friend now..

  2. Christine Rodell says:

    Thank you for al the tips! I just won a set of waxed amarylis at a ocmpany thing and it spurred the idea to do them myself. Love your info!

  3. Kay says:

    Oh my! Considering many of the comments here, perhaps this should be a Halloween post? ;)

  4. Zachary says:

    Go on keep adding the ignorant to your followings… keep hurting the creatures that give you life. You who only care about you ego and popularity… you who are truly uncaring to anything but your own species. No one cares about plants in this modern government brainwashed world… I do though… but no one will listen. You say I’m insane but the that’s what the government does. If someone accesses taboo but important info they are labeled as insane. We are all being lied to… plants are like you and me… the entire world has been scammed and desensitized to their anguish…

  5. Zachary says:

    Your all cowards for ignoring what you would feel if you accepted that these plants which can live as long as you if properly cared for, felt excruciating agony when you cut into their head. The bulb is like the amaryllis’ head. Your basically cutting off the top of its head with part of its brain and sealing a wound with hot wax. Your basically committing plant scaphism!!! Not that you would care all people like you care about is fashion and money. What kind of sick person exploits a living being this way? Do you truly care that little about your fellow life forms. Would you do this to an animal If it was legal? I’m sure you would just so long as the screaming was not audible. You really should treat plants better because without them as we will soon be we’d be dead!!! Plants and trees feel pain like us animals it’s been proven it’s just the corrupt rulers want to keep it hidden because billions are made torturing plants trees and even animals!!! You should do a little research before mutilating a creation that could live as long as you!!!

  6. Denese Stretch says:

    A couple of years ago, I was in the situation of having the bulbs soaked and events conspiring to prevent the waxing of said bulbs in a timely fashion.
    I thought I had read somewhere about someone deconstructing a commercially-waxed bulb. Mention was made of finding a balloon-like liner between the bulb surface and the wax.
    Quick trip to the dollar store for large (12-inch) balloons ensued. I cut off the basal plate from the bulb, and cut off the neck of the balloon to make it easier to stretch it over the bulb and still cover most of the bulb up to the neck. (A balloon-stretching helper is an asset.) Done.
    The bulbs bloomed well, and the balloon seemed to shrink along with the bulb.
    This is how I have done it ever since. Does not look as great as a waxed bulb, but no wax dripped in the kitchen , no wax chipping off the bulb. Dollarama has nice gold-coloured balloons at the moment, which can look nice topped off with a ribbon and small ornament. Or I can wrap the balloon in a circle of tissue or fabric and tie a ribbon at the neck.
    Laziness is sometimes the mother of invention.

  7. catherine says:

    what is the minimum amount of time to soak the bulbs?

  8. Dana says:

    This would be perfect for the book club advent calendar! I searched all over town yesterday, and there are no amaryllis bulbs to be found. Apparently the shops are expecting them at the end of November.

  9. MartiJ says:

    Karen,
    Looking for an opinion here. Every year, I garden at a friend’s house. The reason for this is because my friends never seem to notice that I get a billion fresh tomatoes and some summer and butternut squash and pepperes, while they get to see my happy dance at taking out my frustrations in the dirt of their side yard.
    I also have a sizable herb garden on my (condo) balcony. Sizable for my balcony but unfortunately, that’s tiny. Maybe… 6 by 7 feet? Sadly, it only gets sun for about 4-6 hours during the day… on one side. Some of it only wishes for the sun. Sigh.
    A presence on social media was giving away a cover… essentially a greenhouse “topper” made of clear vinyl with zippers. No flooring, but… hey it was free. Trying to decide if I can rig up another bit of clear vinyl on the bottom, attach with some velcro, possibly put in a tiny space heater to provide occasional warm on the coldest nights, and proceed to enjoy fresh herbs and some lettuces through the winter?
    I’m in the U.S., zone 7, which is mild to moderate winters. Thoughts? (I tend to view it as a “why not try?”
    Other potential plus: the birds LOVE my balcony garden and this would frustrate the heck out of their efforts to get in and eat/tug away at my plants. They nearly killed my fledgling lavender in the spring. Pecked and pulled off every bit they could for nesting.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marti! Things like that tend to do more of keeping things alive than allowing them to grow in that kind of climate. And if there’s only so much sun, obviously it isn’t going to increase that. BUT providing protection especially from the wind will make the herbs live longer outside. So yeah, do what all the smart people do – try it and if it doesn’t work complain about it. If it does – tell everyone you know about it, lol. ~ karen!

  10. Deja View says:

    HOW IS THIS NOT ON THE HOLIDAY PLANNING SCHEDULE YOU MADE ME PRINT OFF AND STICK TO OUR FRIDGE?!?!?!? omg dude.

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