Amaryllis. Even the name sounds regal. This towering beauty gets its name from the Greek word amaryssein meaning, “to sparkle”.
True Amaryllis, known as Amaryllis belladonna, is nicknamed “Naked Lady” since their leaves appear first in mid-spring, then die off as the solo flower stem grows to maturity. These native African bulbs produce gorgeous pink blooms by early autumn.
But the “Amaryllis” we know and love is actually a species called Hippeastrum. Native to South America, these flowers shower shades of pink, crimson, salmon, lavender, white and bi-colored striped across gigantic trumpet-shaped blooms.
Hippeastrum bulbs are cultivated in Holland, Africa and South America where they are kept in the ground until shipping time. When purchased new, your bulbs should bloom in about 8 weeks after planting.
Hippeastrum are actually one of the easiest plants to grow. With proper care and storage, these showy bulbs are sure to brighten the dreariest days of winter, year after year.
Planting and care the first year:
Choose firm bulbs that show no leaf growth. The growing container should be only slightly larger than the bulb, about 1-inch in diameter. Use a light, well-drained humus potting mix. Fill the pot about two-thirds full.
About one third of the bulb should show above the soil level. Water sparingly until growth appears, then move to a sunny location and water when dry. These plants grow rapidly, so remember to turn the pot to keep foliage growth balanced. Fertilize with a diluted houseplant fertilizer.
Placing blooming plants in a cool area will prolong blooms and intensify their color. Cut off faded flowers before they go to seed. Seed development takes nourishment away from the bulb.
Don’t be too quick to cut off leaves. Like other bulbs,
Hippeastrum derive their food for future production from present leaves. Treat these tender bulbs as houseplants, only placing them outside after the threat of frost is past.
When the leaves turn yellow and die, stop all watering and feeding the bulb. Store the bulb in a cool dry place out of direct light. You can leave the bulbs in their pots. Hippeastrum enjoy being slightly rootbound.
After about 8 weeks of storage the bulb should start growing. Be patient. Some bulbs take longer than others to restart. When growth appears, move to a sunny location.
Hippeastrum come in single and double layer blooms.
These plants produce 4 to 6 flowers per stem.
Here are some varieties to go with any décor.
‘Apple Blossom’- double white flowers streaked with soft
‘Royal Velvet’- single deep red bloom.
‘Peppermint Stick’- white with red swirls.
‘Lady Jane’- apricot and white double bloom.
‘Red Lion’ – red Christmas favorite.
‘Lemon-Lime’ – delicate double light green blooms.
‘Salmon Master’ – double orange-pink blooms.
‘Rozetta’ – Double pink blooms with white stripes.
‘Picotee’ – White bloom with red edging.
‘White Christmas’ – pure white double blooms.
Trying to coax these plants to produce blooms at a designated time can be fun and rewarding. Also by staggering planting times, you can have beautiful blooms throughout winter.
Summer Bulb Guide, Purdue Extension 1998
The Amaryllis, University of Saskatchewan
Amaryllis Can Brighten A Winter Window, Oregon State
University Extension 2001
Photo source Colorblends.com