Amaryllis – Hippeastrum hybrids

The first Christmas I was here, I tossed my amaryllis bulbs after they had bloomed. Then I was at a plant sale that spring and saw amaryllis for sale. I purchased a St. Joseph’s which bloomed in early March. Since then, I saved all my holiday amaryllis bulbs and planted them after they finished blooming the following Christmas. This year they all bloomed in January and continued to bloom through March. I added this year’s bulbs to the bed and I expect in time this will become a very large bed of amaryllis.

Amaryllis are part of the Narcissus family of flowers. The name amaryllis means to twinkle or sparkle. Though they look like lilies, lilies have their ovaries above the petals and narcissus have them below the petals. In their native climates they die back in the heat of summer and re-appear in the fall. Mine had leaves all year last year, but it did not grow at all in the summer.

The Greeks and Egyptians associated narcissus flowers with death and they can be found in ancient burial tombs. In the 1650s a ship is believed to have wrecked off the coast of the Channel Islands. Amaryllis bulbs, native to South Africa, washed ashore and bloomed on the beach the following spring.

Amaryllis want sandy, well drained soils or the bulbs may rot during wet winters. Mine are planted in clay, that’s all I have and they have wintered over just fine. If you have them in clay, find a dry spot for them. Plant them so the top of the bulb is level with the top of the soil.

I tried planting them in the shade and while they lived through it, it was just barely and they didn’t bloom. Plant them in full sun to part shade, the more sun the better.

The wonderful thing about bulbs is that they require very little care. Put them in the ground and leave them be.

You can plant your holiday amaryllis bulbs as soon as they are done blooming. Or just keep them watered in a sunny window until we have a day warm enough to go out into the garden.

Typically amaryllis will send up blooms, then leaves appear after the flowers and it all fades away when the weather gets cold. These ones have leaves now because they bloomed first inside before I put them outdoors.

Amaryllis survive cold Houston winters as well as Houston summers. They will die back to the ground after a hard frost, but return once the weather warms back up.

Mine are late blooming this year ( it’s early April ) most years they bloom the winter. This winter was much colder than normal.

Amaryllis is the name of a beautiful Greek fictional shepardess.

Survived extreme heat and drought summer 2011.

Amaryllis shows up in all the stores around October or so. If you bring one home and pot it up you should see blooms in six to eight weeks. Amaryllis is one of the easiest blooming bulbs to force indoors. Once the flower stalk appears it can grow several inches in a day reaching between one to three feet before blooming. At the top four flowers will open each one about 3″-5″ across.

To rebloom your amaryllis next Christmas keep it growing either inside or out doors if the weather permits. Around Labor Day ( first weekend in September ) bring it indoors, un-pot the bulb and clean the dirt off it. Then place it in a paper bag and put it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Leave it there until Halloween ( very end of Oct. ) then repot it up to bloom for another holiday. The older it gets the more flower stalks it puts out each year

Blooms will last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on conditions.

More information:
US National Arboretum Amaryllis Photo Gallery
Amaryllis/Hippeastrum Forum at the Garden Web

2 thoughts on “Amaryllis – Hippeastrum hybrids

  1. Hello Herself,

    It was a lot of work to get amaryllis to rebloom in the north where they had to grow in pots and come inside for the winter. So it almost seems like cheating to just stick them in the ground here in Austin!

    I envy you that St Joseph’s day lily!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  2. I know. I used to grow them in pots for Christmas, haul them in and stick them in the basement in the fall, then rebloom them. It’s much nicer this way.

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