The Amaryllis is in this week’s spotlight. Christmas is nearing and the Amaryllis is the perfect flower to spread a feeling of warmth during those cold winter nights.
The Naked Lady
The botanical name for Amaryllis is Hippeastrum. It is a bulbous plant from the Amaryllidaceae family. The petals of the Amaryllis are velvet-like and her colour palette ranges from white, yellow, orange, purple, salmon and pink to red. Some varieties are multicoloured or striped. You can recognise the Hippeastrum by her large and trumpet shaped flowers. On one stem, there are usually four to six flowers and no leaves. Because she has a leaf-free stem, she’s been nicknamed ‘Naked Lady’ in the US. Due to extensive hybridisation, the bloom’s diameter can get up to 22cm.
There are quite some misconceptions about the exact origin of the Amaryllis. The Amaryllis that raises confusion is the Amaryllis Belladonna, also known as Jersey Lily. Despite having some similarities, this is a different flower than the Hippeastrum. It originates from South Africa. The origin of the more popular Amaryllis, which we know as the Hippeastrum, lies in tropical South and Central America. Here it grows all the way from Northern Argentina till Mexico and the Caribbean. It is believed that the Portuguese brought the Amaryllis bulb to Europe around the 16th century. The flower had its first introduction in England around the 18th century.
The name Hippeastrum is a combination of two Greek words: Hippeus (knight) and Astron (star). Knight star refers to the star shaped petals which look like the medieval weapon. The flower symbolises quite a few things: pride, enchanting beauty, friendship and affection. This makes the Amaryllis a perfect flower to give to a loved one.
The Amaryllis is winter’s longest-lasting cut flower. It can last up to three weeks once cut. To ensure the Amaryllis’ quality follow these steps:
- Cut the stems diagonally;
- Select a long, firm clean vase;
- Fill the vase with water and cut flower food for bulb flowers;
- Make sure to place the vase in a cool spot;
- Keep the flowers away from fruit and don’t place them in the draught;
- Refill the vase every once in a while with fresh tap water.