At the beginning of the year, my best friend’s in-laws gave me an amaryllis bulb from their collection. This bulb grew into several huge beautiful flowers when my husband and I were away on a weekend trip, but we were able to enjoy those colorful blooms for a few weeks. I’ve been seeing a lot of bulbs being sold, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about amaryllis care.
When done right, it does not take much to care for amaryllis plants. It does take some patience since you have to wait for the bulb to bloom. What is an amaryllis anyway?
There are only two species of amaryllis flowers. The more popular one is called amaryllis belladonna, from South Africa’s Western Cape area. It is speculated that the Portuguese were responsible for introducing the amaryllis to Europe in the 16th century.
From Europe, the amaryllis belladonna spread to other places, such as Madiera and the Canary Islands. It wasn’t until the 18 century that England was introduced to this beautiful plant.
Amaryllis plants were given the name lilies at this time, and are still referred to as lilies in certain parts of the world. In the 1800s amaryllis plants were put in the genus hippeastrum, which comes from the Greek words star and horse.
The Amaryllis in Greek Folklore
The Amaryllis name comes from a Greek Legend about a maiden. The maiden, Amaryllis, was in love with Alteo. She tried winning him over by piercing her heart with an arrow near his house for 30 days.
On day 30, where her blood dripped from the arrow, bright red flowers bloomed. When Alteo saw these flowers, he instantly fell in love. There are variations to this legend of course, but this one is the most interesting.
Amaryllis and Christmas
You are probably wondering why you are seeing droves upon droves of amaryllis bulbs available for sale during the holiday season. What do amaryllis flowers have to do with Christmas anyway?
For starters, one of the common colors of amaryllis flowers is a deep red with some white in the flowers. Because of this, the amaryllis makes great floral decorations for the holiday season. Interesting enough, these flowers do not bloom naturally during Christmas, but we can get more into that in the care section below.
Amaryllis Fun Facts
Below are some fun facts about the amaryllis flower. If you know of more, let me know in the comments section below!
- One amaryllis plant can live almost 100 years if cared for properly.
- There are 600 different varieties of amaryllis, all grown by plant breeders.
- In Greek, amaryllis means sparkle.
- The USA gets over 11 million of their amaryllis bulbs from South Africa and Holland.
- It can take as long as 6 years for an amaryllis seed to grow into flowers.
- Amaryllis typically bloom in summer or spring but can be forced to bloom early for the holidays.
- These plants grow well outdoors in zones 9 to 11.
- Amaryllis flowers can last almost a month when properly cared for.
- Studies show that the Hippeastrum type has medicinal benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- A nickname for the amaryllis is “naked lady” due to its stems with no leaves.
Popular Types of Amaryllis
As stated above, there are hundreds of types of amaryllis plants that are available today. I just want to briefly look at some of the popular types that you can buy at your local nursery.
Red Lion-These amaryllis plants are popular during the holidays because of their vibrant red flowers.
Benfica-These deep red blooms look almost purple and can add a great sense of drama to your garden or as a centerpiece.
Fairy Tale-These candy cane striped amaryllis plants also make great holiday blooms with their colors. Up to 6 flowers can grow from these bulbs despite their small size.
Matterhorn-Snow white flowers with yellow centers make these blooms stand out again the red types.
Samba-This type of amaryllis has ruffly red petals. Each petal is bordered in white with a white streak down the middle.
Naranja-The petals on these plants are bright, vivid red-orange colors.
Apple Blossom-My personal favorite since its the type of amaryllis I have! These blooms are streaked with a mix of pink and white.
Aphrodite-These amaryllis plants definitely live up to their name. These double blooms are white with red borders and tips, making them unique holiday decor.
Monaco-These amaryllis blooms have petals that are the ever popular red color for the holidays. They also have white and green centers.
Novella-These flowers are colored in a pretty light pink all over. I definitely need to get my hands on these since they are in my favorite color!
You can grow amaryllis plants when they start as seeds, but I just want to focus on caring for an amaryllis when it is in bulb form. Amaryllis bulbs are pretty easy to grow.
Make sure you have a pot that is 6-8 inches wide for the bulb to grow in. The flowers can get pretty heavy so if you have a heavy pot, but the bulb in that.
Don’t have a container, but need ideas on what type to get for your amaryllis? Check out this post, Cheap Garden Containers.
The bulb are to be planted in the soil with the pointy end up. If you don’t have any potting soil on hand, I highly recommend Miracle-Gro Potting Soil. I’ve used cheaper kinds but this one works great with a variety of plants.
The amaryllis bulb should be placed in the soil so that one-third of the bulb is above the soil. The pot can be placed in indirect sunlight so that it will grow well. I placed mine in a sunny area at the beginning of the year and it grew fine.
Amaryllis bulbs don’t need too much water, especially before the stalk starts growing. It can be watered on a regular basis after the stalk has grown about two inches high.
Once the stalk has grown to its height, up to a few feet, the flower buds will form. Our flowers opened when we were away, and it was a nice surprise to come home to all four flowers in bloom!
Bulbs can rebloom, it just takes some careful planning. Once the flowers die, cut the stalk down to about one inch above the bulb. Water and feed the plant at this time, since it will be growing huge leaves during the warmer months.
In the middle of August, stop watering the bulb and let it dry out. Put the bulb in a dark, cool place for about two months. Then, place the bulb in a new pot with soil, back in indirect light and watch it grow into beautiful flowers again!
It generally takes about two months from the time the bulb is planted for it to flower. This varies based on the type of amaryllis being grown.
If you have pets and/or children, keep amaryllis away from them. These plants are poisonous to both children and animals.
Enjoy your amaryllis!
If you haven’t tried planting bulbs yet, I highly encourage starting with amaryllis. It takes some care, time and patience, but these huge flowers are definitely worth the wait.
Do you have anything to add to my amaryllis care post or questions? Let me know your experiences growing amaryllis plants below!