Sparkling star during the dark days of winter

When most houseplants are hibernating, Amaryllis seizes its opportunity and towers above all its fellows, stately and radiant.

Amaryllis Thejoyofplants.co.uk

SHAPES AND COLOURS

Stylish and sensual Amaryllis (also known as Hippeastrum) is available in many varieties and rich earthy colours. This houseplant’s big feature is its changing appearance. A bulb produces a stately hollow stem on which smooth buds develop. These open into voluminous calyxes with velvety petals in white, salmon, red, pink or even green. The flowers can reach a diameter of 20 cm. This is very spectacular, particularly because you don’t expect such a lavish display from that elegant stem, particularly not in the winter months.

ORIGIN

Amaryllis is a member of the Narcissus family, with more than 70 species. They grow mainly in the (sub-)tropical regions of Mexico and the Caribbean through to the north of Argentina. The first Amaryllises probably developed in Brazil. The plant was first cultivated in Europe in around 1800. The name comes from the ancient Greek word ‘amarusso’, which freely translates as “I sparkle”. It’s also the name of a girl in a Greek myth who was so besotted with the handsome but unapproachable  Alteo that she pierced her heart with a golden arrow, and then visited his house every day. On the 13th day, beautiful red flowers bloomed in the places where she had spilled her blood. Alteo fell in love with her, Amaryllis’s heart healed and the world had acquired a fabulous winter flower.

Choice of range
The Amaryllis range is very broad. Alongside main colours such as red, pink and white, new colours are constantly being added, like salmon, lilac, green, orange and bicoloured varieties with stripes or edges. There are varieties with single and double flowers. Bulbs with a wax or felt coating that the consumer doesn’t have to do anything to are very popular. Do stress that it requires patience: it takes a few weeks for a bulb to start growing. An Amaryllis in a pot develops slightly faster. How to identify the various cultivars:

Galaxy Group, single-flowered, flower diameter larger than 16 cm
Diamond Group, single-flowered, flower diameter 12-16 cm
Colibri Group, single-flowered, flower diameter less than 12 cm
Double Galaxy Group, double-flowered, flower diameter larger than 16 cm
Double Diamond Group, double-flowered, flower diameter 12-16 cm
Double Colibri Group, double-flowered, flower diameter less than 12 cm
Spider Group, single-flowered, little or no overlap of bracts
Butterfly Group, single-flowered, slightly oval
Trumpet Group, single-flowered, long trumpet-shaped flowers

Care tips:

  • Amaryllis can tolerate both light shade and light positions, as long as it’s reasonably cool.
  • Do not allow the soil to dry out, but do not have standing water either. Bulbs with felt or wax will flower without water, but should not be too warm, otherwise the flowers will dry up.
  • There’s no need to feed since the nutrients are already in the bulb.