AmaryllisAmaryllis is the queen of flowering bulbs. Not only is she the largest bulb commonly forced to bloom indoors, she is also one of the easiest to bring to bloom.

The amaryllis originated in South America’s tropical regions and goes by the botanical name of Hippeastrum. Plant breeders have developed more than 600 named varieties. They can be found in shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange as well as multi-coloured and double petalled varieties. Each one is more beautiful than the next and picking a favourite is almost impossible.

These dramatic blooms often herald the holidays with a natural beauty only a living plant can possess. They are the ideal gift for those hard to buy for people as well as the little people on your lists. Once the flower stalks appear, they grow so quickly you can almost measure them on a daily basis to see how they have stretched. They always produce awe-inspiring results.

My husband’s four year old grandson told us all about the amaryllis his teacher had in their classroom. He was very excited waiting for it to grow and I was very excited that he could identify an amaryllis. Hats off to his teacher for making a floral impression with this little guy and the rest of his class.

This is one of those times when size really does matter. The bigger the bulb, the more flowers you will see produced. It is worth getting the biggest bulb you can find. You won’t be sorry. The really big ones have been known to send out 4 flowers stalks with 3 – 6 blooms on each stalk. Wow, that is one amazing floral show.

The container you decide to plant them in can really add to the display. I recommend using ceramic or clay pot for the simple reason that they have some weight to them. If you plant into a plant pot you will have a hard time keeping the pot upright once the flower stalk starts growing and it is usually the flower stalk that comes first. The leaves will follow eventually.

amaryllisSome things you may not know about amaryllis:

  1. Amaryllis means ‘to sparkle” in Greek
  2. You can grow an amaryllis from seed, but it can take up to six years for them to reach maturity and produce flowers.
  3. Properly cared for, an amaryllis plant can live for 75 years.
  4. Amaryllis make dramatic and long-lasting cut flowers
  5. The genus Hippeastrum has produced several substances with medically significant properties, one of which has shown promise as a treatment for Alzheimer’s.

You can still get bulbs to plant up at your local garden centre. When planting your own make sure to leave at least one third of the top of the bulb exposed and place it in an area with bottom heat to get it started. Keep the watering to a minimum until you see some green shoots peeking out. If your green thumb is challenged or you are running out of time, you may want to pick up a bulb that has already been planted. Either way, don’t go into the winter without this gorgeous plant in your home.