As an indoor plant, an amaryllis will flower anywhere, and for many flower-lovers, forcing the amaryllis to flower during December is a holiday tradition. Of course, the amaryllis is by nature an outdoors plant, and it makes a magnificent display in a garden. As a tropical plant that comes from Central and South America, amaryllis requires a warm, frost-free climate. Generally, amaryllis thrives only in planting zones 9 to 11, which include southern Georgia, Florida, southern Texas, southern Arizona and southern California.
If you live in zones 9 to 11, you will find that amaryllis is a perennial plant that requires very little maintenance. To establish an amaryllis garden, begin by soaking the bulbs in lukewarm water for three or four hours before planting. In your garden, dig holes for each bulb. Shovel two or three inches of compost into the bottom of each hole, then place the bulb point upright. Shovel in more compost until the round portion of the bulb is completely covered and only the pointed stump or neck is visible above the ground. Using your fingers, press the compost down firmly around the bulb. Then walk away. Year after year the amaryllis will flower in all its colorful glory.
Zone 8 begins in southern Virginia and runs in a band across the southern United States to the Texas/New Mexico border. You can plant amaryllis in this zone by following the process described for zones 9 to 11. Winters in this zone tend to be mild, so you can leave the amaryllis bulbs in the ground, but take care to give them a thick cover of mulch to protect them from any sudden frost.
If you live in zones 2 to 7 (there is no Zone 1 in the United States), you must dig up the amaryllis bulbs in the fall or the freezing winter temperatures will kill them. As you lift the bulbs from the garden, wipe off any loose soil, then store the bulbs in a cool, dry place such as a basement or garage where the temperature remains between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In spring, replant the amaryllis bulbs as described above.