- Common Name(s): Amaryllis is actually the common name even though it is the generic name for another plant that looks similar, but is a hardier specimen from South Africa.
- Scientific Name: Hippeastrum (hip-ee-AS-trum) from the Amaryllidaceae family. Hippeastrum is Greek for knights star. The common name, Amaryllis, is taken from the Greek word amarysso, which means "to sparkle," but there is no concrete story behind the name of this plant. Still, I do enjoy the shepherdess story that is circulating across the Internet. In Greek mythology, Amaryllis was the name of a shepherdess who shed her own blood to prove her true love, and in so doing inspired the naming of this bright red flower.
- Species: Around 80 species and hybrids in this genus. One species worth noting here is H. papilio, an evergreen that has breathtaking blooms of cream white and maroon stripes.
- Zones: 8-11, but often grown as a house plant in cooler climates.
- Size: 1 – 3′ tall depending on species and variety, with large trumpet-like blooms from 4-10" across.
- Propagation: These warm season perennials are mainly propagated by bulb offsets. However, they resent being disturbed so dividing the bulb is seldom done until the gardener notices another plant emerging from the ground or pot.
- Time of Bloom: In my experience they bloom readily in winter and early summer in pots indoors and outdoors, respectively.
- Conditions: They make excellent houseplants if grown in a large pot for ample bulb growth (1" inch all the way around is good). Make sure to plant the bulb about 2/3 above the soil's surface so the top of the bulb is kept dry and rot free. The bulbs have to rejuvenate themselves and this is done in a low light, cool (55-60 degree) environment, with minimal watering. When leaves begin to emerge a bright, warm area (above 60) will help begin the blooming process. Regular watering should resume with a bit of liquid fertilizer every couple weeks until bloom time. A whole row of these beauties along your windowsill in the dead of winter is a sight to behold. However, if you are lucky enough to live in a climate that is warm enough to grow these queen-sized beauties outside then give them rich, well-drained soil, and making sure to cover the top of the bulb with a couple inches of soil. Protect with mulch for winter months.
- Native Region: Central and South America, although, currently most cultivars of Hippeastrum are developed and imported by Dutch and South African growers. Other developers include the United States, Japan, Israel, India, Brazil and Australia.
I still have the same Amaryllis plant that I remember blooming near the big bay window when I was a little girl. With this memory the Amaryllis is a plant I am quite taken with and cherish. For a bit of fun I took a time-lapse video of my Amaryllis blooming. See it on my YouTube channel here: http://youtu.be/eIKHUw4BVn0!
Share photos of your Amaryllis! I am interested in getting some more cultivars and am looking for any suggestions. :)
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