A Member of the genus Amaryllidaceae, Hippeastrum bulbs are native to Central and South America and include 90 species and over 600 cultivars; these plants are commonly called Amaryllis.
In contrast, Amaryllis is a bulb native to South Africa with only one species, Amaryllis belladona, also known as “Naked Ladies” because of their pink flowers on stems without leaves.
Which Amaryllis to Choose
Amaryllis is offered in assorted sizes, measured in centimeters in circumference (around the bulb). Larger bulb sizes normally produce more flower stalks or more flowers per stem. The heavier the bulbs, the more expensive it is. The largest size is sometimes called jumbo.
Speaking of choices, Amaryllis come in a wide variety of colors and flower formations thanks to the hybridizers who are continuing to create more forms and colors.
Some varieties to look for:
- Barbados – thick red petals with a bold white starburst.
- Gervase – variable coloration from flower to flower of white with pale pink, dark pink, red striped, and feathering.
- Picotee – elegant crisp white flowers with just a hint of a red edge around each petal.
- Red Lion – large, bright red flowers perfect for brightening up any room.
- Rilona – large peachy, apricot-salmon flowers; darker in the center.
Double Flower Amaryllis
Some varieties to look for:
- Dancing Queen – Fully double red and white candy-striped flower with dark green leaves.
- Marilyn – a floriferous flower with lots of layers of pure white petals and a yellowish-green heart.
Hybridizers of these extremely popular bulbs continue to create more types of ‘Amaryllis’ (Hippeastrum), often with different shapes and petal forms. Some, with their pointy, thin petals, resemble spider legs.
- Bogota – exotic, spider-type flowers; upper petals are deep red while lower petals are lighter with a touch of salmon.
- Evergreen – tropical, spider-type flowers that are an award-winning green, quite unusual for this group.
- Use a good potting mix that includes bark to help with drainage.
- Place your bulb in the container with the top 1/3 of the bulb above the soil.
- Water once; do not water again until there is a sign of some growth, and then water only sparingly.
- Amaryllis need lots of light. Select a location with as much light as possible and add grow lights if possible. If not using grow lights, place your container where there is the most amount of natural light after sundown. This will keep it from stretching to reach for more light.
- Once the flower stalk begins to form buds, water as needed. (Hint: Lift the pot once potted but before the first time you water. This will give you a feel for its weight without water. The top of the soil may feel dry but the weight of moist soil deeper in the pot, which makes it heavier, will help you know when the bulb needs to be watered).
- Once the flower has finished blooming, cut off the spent flower, leaving its green stem, which acts as another leaf.
Many good garden centers, catalogs, and websites offer ‘Amaryllis’ already in a container, ready to give as a gift. Some even have the bulb ‘waxed’ and growing.
What to do with Your Amaryllis After It Blooms
- Once your potted Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) flower has finished blooming, you should continue to leave it where it gets as much light as possible, watering when necessary. This will help it store enough starches and sugars in the bulb so it will rebloom the following year.
- Once the springtime warmth is in your area to stay, you can set your potted Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) outside to continue to work on creating next year’s flower. Mark your calendar to take the pot inside on September 1st; put it in a dark, cool place (closet; under the bed, etc) so it can take a ‘nap’ for a couple of months. Then on November 1st, repot your ‘Amaryllis’ (Hippeastrum), water it, and give it light so you can enjoy it again.
- If you live in an area where the winter hardiness zone is 8-10, once the springtime warmth arrives, you can plant your Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) out in your garden. Many of them come back and bloom in the summer garden year after year. You’ll notice that they don’t grow as tall outside as they do inside. That’s because inside, they are ’s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g’ for light, and out in the garden during the summer, the days are much longer, and finding the light is easy.
Learn more about Amaryllis…
- Amaryllis Bulbs – The Ideal Gift by National Garden Bureau
Purchase Amaryllis plants at NGB Member Online Stores and at your local plant retailer.
The National Garden Bureau recognizes and thanks Brent and Becky Bulbs, an NGB member, as author and contributor to this fact sheet.
This fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau. There are no limitations on the use. Please credit National Garden Bureau, and link to this page, when using all or parts of this article or referencing the Year of the program.