Amaryllis is a genus of flowering bulbs, with only two species.
These two species are:
• Amaryllis belladonna
• Amaryllis paradisicola
The better known of the two, Amaryllis belladonna is also known as belladonna lily.
This is one of numerous genera with the common name “lily“ due to their flower shape and growth habit. However, they are only distantly related to the true lily, Lilium.
Both species are native to South Africa; but today are found all over the world.
The plant is not frost-tolerant, nor does it do well in tropical environments since they require a dry resting period between leaf growth and flower spike production.
Amaryllis is a bulbous perennial plant, with each bulb being from 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) in diameter.
The plant has several strap-shaped, green leaves, from 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in) long and from 2 to 3 cm (0.8 to 1.2 in) broad, arranged in two rows. The leaves are produced in the autumn or early spring in warm climates depending on the onset of rain and eventually die down by late spring.
Each bulb produces one or two leafless stems from 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in) tall, each of which bears a cluster of two to twelve funnel-shaped flowers at their tops.
Each flower is 6 to 10 cm (2.5 to 4 in) diameter with six tepals (three outer sepals, three inner petals, with similar appearance to each other).
Though red and white are the most popular colors for this flower, it also comes in pink, orange, yellow, and purple.
Amaryllis plants are commonly given as potted plants, and are popular indoor plants because the bulbs can bloom inside. Indoors amaryllis prefer bright, indirect sunlight, while outdoors they prefer partial sunlight or full shade.
Most people associate the bright red amaryllis with the holiday season, because it is frequently gifted during this time.
The amaryllis commonly means determination, beauty, and love.
The Victorians associated amaryllis with strength and determination because of their height and sturdiness.
Amaryllis can also mean success, and are commonly given as gifts of hard-won achievement.
The genus name Amaryllis comes from the Greek word “amarysso,” which means “to sparkle.”
Greek mythology brings us the story of Amaryllis, a love-struck maiden who longed for the handsome but cold-hearted Alteo. Desperate to win his love, she pierced her heart with a golden arrow and then visited his cottage daily, shedding drops of blood along the way. On the thirtieth day, beautiful scarlet flowers bloomed along the path. Alteo was enamored, Amaryllis’ heart was healed, and our favorite holiday bloom got its name.