All About Amaryllis – History, Meaning, Facts, Care & More

Large, showy, and having a long vase life, these are some of the words that describe this flower of great beauty. Learn more about the amaryllis plant in this article.

The History of Amaryllis

Amaryllis is a South and Central American plant. It is native to these places but is also cultivated in South Africa and the Caribbean. Today, it can be grown in tropical as well as subtropical places.

There is also an interesting legend you should know about the Amaryllis flower written in a poem in Greek mythology. As the story goes, a nymph named Amaryllis was deeply in love with Alteo, a shepherd and gardener who had the beauty of Apollo and the strength of Hercules. But Alteo was a cold-hearted man who didn’t respond to Amaryllis’ feelings.

Desperate to be loved, Amaryllis sought advice from the oracle of Delphi who ordered her to stand in front of Alteo’s heart for many nights with her heart pieced. The maiden heeded the advice of the oracle and pierced her heart with a golden arrow. She visited him in his cottage everyday wearing white and shed drops of blood. After many nights, scarlet flowers started to grow along the path where the drops of blood where. This enamored Alteo and healed Amaryllis’ heart.

Characteristics of Amaryllis

  • The amaryllis flower is a monotypic genus, meaning there is only one species in its genus, Amaryllis.
  • Amaryllis are sometimes mistaken for bulbous plants in the Hippeastrum genus or the same genus as the Jacobean lily and the Aztec Lily.
  • Amaryllis has bulbous flower petals in bright colors.
  • Amaryllis has long and hollow stems.
  • Two to five flowers grow at the highest point of the stem, the apex.
  • The flowers grow on separate stalks that have no leaves on them.
  • The flowers can grow 10 to 20 cm broad with three inner petals and three outer sepals.
  • The stems are hollow and erect, and can grow 50 to 60 cm tall.
  • Amaryllis has narrow and flat leaves.

Meaning of Amaryllis flowers

Because of the Greek mythology about the amaryllis flowers, it stood to mean pride and determination. This showy and colorful flower is widely popular for its splendid beauty and pride as it catches everyone’s attention. If you are attracted to someone or admire someone’s beauty, a hand bouquet of amaryllis flowers would make a good choice.

However, keep in mind that amaryllis flowers could also convey the message of pride and vanity. Know that there are people that get offended when referred to these traits. You may send the message of pride as a symbol of confidence instead.

Also, as amaryllis flowers are large and colorful, they can be a house plant. A bouquet of amaryllis will make a lovely centerpiece that will attract everyone’s admiration.

Meanings of Different Colors of Amaryllis

Amaryllis flowers are known for having bright and attractive colors, each with its own meaning.

  • White Amaryllis is a flower used during mourning. It conveys sadness and sympathy making it suitable as funeral flowers.
  • Red Amaryllis is a symbol of love and attraction. It can be a gift to someone you are deeply in love with. In China, red amaryllis is a symbol of good luck.
  • Pink Amaryllis is associated with platonic relationships and friendships. It is a type of flower you can give to a person of any age and gender.
  • Orange Amaryllis is a good housewarming gift as it radiates a positive vibe in the home. It is also suitable as a get well soon flower bouquet as it expresses good health.

Facts about Amaryllis

  • The Greek meaning of amaryllis is to sparkle.
  • Amaryllis blooms in spring and summer.
  • Amaryllis flowers are popular during holidays so they are forced to bloom early.
  • The U.S. imports over 10 million amaryllis bulbs from South Africa and Holland annually.
  • There are over 600 named varieties of amaryllis.
  • It takes up to 6 years to grow amaryllis into flower-producing plants.
  • Amaryllis flowers are perennials.
  • The amaryllis plant can live up to 75 years when properly cared for.
  • Amaryllis is also called naked lady plants and Belladonna Lily.

Growing Amaryllis Flowers

This type of flower looks remarkable in home gardens. Here are tips on how to grow them at home:

  • Amaryllis can withstand any weather and any season, but it can die during winter with heavy frosts.
  • Amaryllis bulbs are best planted from late September to early October.
  • Amaryllis thrives in well-drained soil.
  • A third of the amaryllis bulb should appear above the surface of the soil you plant it in. That is around 6 to 12 inches above the ground.
  • Water the bulbs once to three times a week.
  • Once vegetation starts, fertilize the plant every 10 days and use a balanced houseplant fertilizer.
  • Mulch the soil to control weed growth and to conserve moisture.
  • Amaryllis bulbs start to grow flowers in about 7 to 10 weeks.

How to care for Amaryllis

  • Remove the dead Amaryllis flowers by cutting the stem a little above the bulb to help prevent seed formation.
  • Amaryllis flowers thrive in the sun. It is a good idea to place a vase of amaryllis near a sunny window.
  • Amaryllis has a vase life of up to three weeks when properly cared for.
  • Change the water in a vase of amaryllis once a week.
  • Do not fertilize amaryllis bulbs that do not have leaves as it can kill the bulb.
  • Water the amaryllis plant every week to keep the soil moist.
  • Water the plant using tepid water. A single bulb needs about 8 oz of water and a container with three bulbs will require 10 to 12 oz of water to stimulate growth.