50 Hippeastrum hybridsCommon Names: amaryllis Family: Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis Family)
The spectacular "amaryllis" bulbs that are forced into bloom by the thousands every year are actually hybrids of the dozens of species of the genus Hippeastrum While the belladonna lily (Amaryllis belladonna) is the true amaryllis, Floridata will use "amaryllis" as a common name when referring the Hippeastrums. Whatever you call it, this amaryllis is a large tropical bulb with a long history of brightening up wintertime households. Amaryllis typically holds 2 to 7 huge, 6 in (15 cm) lily-shaped blossoms on massive 18-20 in (46-51 cm) stems. The dark green straplike basal leaves (arise from the ground in a rosette) are 16-20 in (41-51 cm) long give the plant interest even when not in bloom. There are more than 50 species of Hippeastrum that bloom white, pink, red or orange, sometimes striped or frilled and these have been hybridized into a host of shapes, colors and sizes. Some old favorites sold for indoor container culture include: 'Apple Blossom' which has white petals with a pink blush, 'Picotee' is also white with petal edges lined in pink and 'Lady Jane' which has double petals in salmon-rose.
Dozens of species Hippeastrum grow throughout the tropical regions of Central and South American. Their various hybrids are popular houseplants and grow in beds and borders in sub-tropical and tropical areas all over the world.
CultureLight: Filtered sunlight; shade is best outdoors. When grown indoors, give amaryllis bright indirect light. Moisture: plant the bulbs in well drained soil. Water adequately during growing season. Outside, amaryllis needs little water in winter when bulbs are dormant. Indoors, withhold water when dormant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. In Zone 8 mulch well to protect bulbs from freezing. Outside of Zones 8-11, dig bulbs in fall, store in dry cool place, and replant in spring. Propagation: Seeds or bulb offsets. Plant one offset in a 6 in (15 cm); pot of peat or compost with half the bulb exposed. Water sparsely until growth begins. New bulbs do not have roots, so special care is needed to develop a good root system. To encourage rooting, be certain the soil is kept damp - not wet - until roots fill the container. Avoid fertilizing. As soon as a few buds appear, water freely and feed weekly with liquid fertilizer. Plant outdoors in the garden once danger of frost has past. Water regularly through mid-summer to nourish the bulb and then reduce watering in late summer so that foliage will die and the bulb go dormant. If you do not live in Zone 8-11 and want to force your amaryllis into bloom then dig before frost, clean bulbs and store in a cool place until you're ready for more fabulous flowers.
Outdoors use amaryllis in mixed perennial borders. Plant among shrubs or under high shade of pine trees. Makes great cut flowers. In winter, amaryllis bulbs are easily forced into spectacular blooms. In a matter of weeks a dry bulb will become a lovely centerpiece to brighten gloomy winter days.
The Dutch have hybridized the Hippeastrum species extensively so there are now scores of sizes, colors and patterns to choose from. Amaryllis bulbs and kits are widely available from garden centers, discount stores and through mail order - just place the bulb in a bright warm place and add water. To prolong the show keep the plant away from direct sun light and in cool place.
Jack Scheper 09/14/03; updated 11/11/03, 12/9/03, 4/17/08, 4/16/11