AMARYLLIS

FAMILY: Amaryllidaceae | GENUS: HIPPEASTRUM

TYPE
  • Perennials
  • Bulbs
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 10
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 11

Plant Details

Native to the tropics and subtropics. Many species are useful in hybridizing, but only hybrids are generally available; these are often sold as giant amaryllis or Royal Dutch amaryllis (though many are grown in South Africa or elsewhere). Named selections come in reds, pinks, white, salmon, near-orange; some are variously marked and striped. Two to several flowers, often 89 inches across, form on stout, 2 feet stems. Where plants are grown outdoors, flowers bloom in spring; indoors, they bloom just a few weeks after planting. Favorites include Picotee (white with a thin red edge), 'Samba' (red with white edges and central streaks), 'Red Lion' (scarlet), and 'White Christmas' (pure white).

Newer forms include double-flowered selections in several colors (some with red picotee edges); look for 'Aphrodite' (white, with petals lined and edged in pink), 'Ballerina' (rose-pink), 'Blossom Peacock' (white, with pink splashes and red edges), 'Double Dragon' (deep red), 'Elvas' (white, centrally splashed in red), and 'Stars 'n Stripes' (red, with white stripes and streaks). Miniatures sport 3- to 5 inches flowers topping 12- to 15 inches stems; among the best are 'Scarlet Baby' and rich red 'Pamela'. An unusual evergreen species, H.papilio, has 5 inches., greenish white flowers heavily patterned with dark red. Hardy hybrid 'San Antonio Rose' (Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 711) is a compact grower to 15 inches high; it has reddish veins on the leaf undersides and single flowers in bright rosy red. 'Charisma', another hardy hybrid, grows about 2 feet tall, with 10 inches-wide flowers; its red-edged petals are white, heavily splashed with deep red.

H. xjohnsonii, Saint Joseph's lily, is an early hybrid popular in old gardens in the South. Its 5 inches-wide trumpet flowers are scarlet with white stripes and emerge in clusters of 4 to 6 atop 2 feet stems; mature bulbs may produce 4 stems and 24 blooms. Tough and resilient, it blooms well in sun or light shade. Hippeastrum reginae, Mexican lily, another heirloom type, has satiny, bright red trumpets with white stars in the throats. Flowers appear in clusters of two, three, or four on 1 feet stems in summer.

Where hardy in the ground, amaryllis bulbs can be planted outdoors. In fall, set bulbs 1 feet apart in organically enriched, well-drained soil; keep bulb necks even with soil surface. They will bloom, and then grow foliage through summer. Water as needed, and feed with timed release fertilizer granules. The foliage will wither with frost; other- wise, some leaves will remain. Divide infrequently.

All types can be grown in pots. Plant from November to February in good potting mix. Allow 1-2 inches between bulb and edge of pot. Set upper half of bulb above the soil surface. Water well, and keep in a sunny spot. Growth begins almost immediately. Stake flower stalks if they are apt to fall over. When flowers fade, cut the entire stalk, but keep the leaves.

Either plant potted bulbs outdoors after danger of frost has passed (see above) or main- tain them in the pot in full sun to partial shade. Fertilize with time release granules and water regularly. Let the leaves grow and nourish the bulb. Potted amaryllis need to go dormant in late summer or early fall, about 8-10 weeks before you want them to grow again. Bloom requires another 6-8 weeks. To induce dormancy, stop watering and place them where they can stay dry and cool, about 55F. When buds begin to emerge, repot if needed, and bring bulbs into a warm, sunny spot to resume watering.

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