About the Amaryllis
Amaryllis is a bulb plant that produces sturdy green, leafless stems with large, colourful flowers that bloom for their tips. The flowers remain in bloom for a lengthy four to six weeks. Amaryllis bulbs are often planted in the fall so the flowers will bloom in the winter, providing a welcome bright pop of colour and vibrancy during the drab colder months.
Amaryllis plants are often given as potted plants for the home as the moderate indoor temperature facilitates flowering, especially when the plant is in bright, indirect sunlight. The festive red amaryllis makes a great gift for the holidays and is a popular alternative to the poinsettia plant.
Characteristics of Amaryllis
The amaryllis plant has large, trumpet-shaped flowers that grow in a range of colours from red to pink, white, orange, salmon, or burgundy. Two-toned and striped varieties are also available. The amaryllis blossom measures 4 to 8 inches across and comes in either a single or double form. Small bulbs typically produce one stem 1-2 ft. in length that yields two to three flowers. Larger bulbs produce up to 3 stems yielding 3-5 flowers each. Amaryllis plants that are properly looked after can continue to bloom for 75 years! And, the longer the plant lives, the larger the bulb grows, producing more stems with more flowers.
History & Meaning
The amaryllis flower has a fascinating and dramatic origin story that dates back to Antiquity. According to a Greek myth, Amaryllis is a beautiful young maiden who is deeply in love with Alteo, a local shepherd and gardener. Strong and handsome, Alteo has a passion for flowers and claimed he could only fall in love with a maiden who brought him a flower so unique that it never existed before. Unsure of how to gain his affections, Amaryllis sought guidance from the Oracle of Delphi, who told her she must sacrifice her blood for him to win his love. For a month, Amaryllis stood upon Alteo's doorstep, piercing her heart with a golden arrow each night in hopes he would notice her, but he did not. On the 30th day, Alteo opened the door and, in her place, saw an extraordinary and beautiful dark red flower that had blossomed from the blood of Amaryllis' heart.
A sad tale, for sure, but from this myth, the amaryllis flower has become a profound symbol of love, commitment, and determination. During the Victorian era, the amaryllis flower took on the meaning of pride, strength, and confidence due to its sturdiness and towering height over other winter flowers. Gentlemen would give the amaryllis flower to women they respected and thought were strong and very beautiful.
Fun Facts About the Amaryllis
- "Amaryllis" derives from the Greek word Amarullis which means "splendour" or "to sparkle."
- The Romans altered the Greek "Amarullis" to "Amaryllis," which stuck.
- Other names for the amaryllis flower are "naked ladies" and "belladonna lilies."
- Amaryllis flowers attract carpenter bees which aid in pollination.
- Bigger amaryllis bulbs = bigger amaryllis blooms.
- Amaryllises are part of the genus Hippeastrum, which means "knight's star," referring to the flower's shape.
- Amaryllis flowers have a long vase life.
- Amaryllis bulbs reproduce by growing a "daughter" bulb alongside a "mother" bulb.
- Every year, the U.S. imports over 10 million amaryllis bulbs into the country.