From their colorful history and symbolism to their versatility, colorful amaryllis are definitely all you need for the Christmas holidays. In fact, this is one of the 11 most popular plants and flowers of the holiday season. So, here’s everything you need to know about this amazing flowering plant that will be taking over the homes of many during the holidays.
Aesthetics of amaryllis and everything there is to know about it
The winter air can make you long for the summer months with their dirty snow piles and barren trees. However, you can have a little piece of spring sprouting on your windowsill if you plant an amaryllis bulb or place some tall hypostrums in your tallest vase!
The flowering amaryllis plant (botanical name Hippeastrum) emerges from a bulb. Each bulb develops from one to three stems, each bearing four to eight funnel-shaped, star-shaped flowers that can be white, red or pink. Later, the flower stalks will be attached to long, broad green leaves.
Amaryllis usually bloom in January, so planting them is a great way to spruce up your home during the colder months and start the year on a bright note. In addition, if you follow the correct care steps and instructions, you will be able to recycle the same plant year after year and enjoy its blooms every winter.
The amaryllis plant, scientifically known as Hippeastrum, is native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America. Its name is derived from the Greek word “amareso”, which means “sparkle”. The plant was first discovered in the late 18th century, and its vibrant flowers quickly gained popularity among botanists and enthusiasts alike.
Typically, amaryllis flowers are hybrids of various species of tropical plants of the genus Hippeastrum in Central and South America. There is also a true Amaryllis genus, although it has only two species native to South Africa. However, these are not the amaryllis plants commonly grown in the United States.
Although bulbs can flower at other times of the year, many people grow amaryllis to produce winter-blooming houseplants.
Hippeastrum is fascinating in the Greek historical context
Many festive amaryllis cultivars are available, some of which have tales that can be linked to Christmas themes. Greek tradition tells of a shy maiden named Amaryllis who fell in love with Alteo, a shepherd who had the strength of Hercules and the beautiful looks of Apollo himself. Her affections unrequited, Amaryllis sought consultation with the oracle of Delphi.
On the advice of the Sibyl, Amaryllis dressed in white and waited outside Alteo’s door for thirty nights, piercing her beloved’s heart with a golden arrow each night. Alteo fell in love with the girl when he discovered her, surrounded by beautiful amaryllis flowers, on his doorstep.
The aesthetics, diversity and importance of this plant during Christmas
There is a reason why flowers make such treasured and valuable gifts. This includes their distinct meanings, the symbolism of flowers, the interesting, and often fantastical, history and traditions associated with them, as well as their obvious visual appeal. In fact, there are many reasons why flowers are always unique and special. Amaryllis, one of the world’s modern favorites in flowering plants, has some of the most wonderful symbolism associated with it.
In the Victorian era, amaryllis came to symbolize strength and determination, due to its height and durability. Amaryllis plants have also been a living symbol of love, willpower and ethereal beauty, and a perfect gift for those you love and care for.
In contemporary times, this plant still carries these profound images, making it a useful choice for Christmas decorations. Its long, sturdy stem and large, trumpet-shaped flowers are often associated with strength and determination. Vibrant red varieties are especially popular during the holiday season, as they symbolize love, passion and affection. In addition, the amaryllis flower represents beauty and radiant transformation, making it an appropriate choice to celebrate the birth of new beginnings during Christmas.
One of the unique qualities of amaryllis is its stunning appearance. Its large, showy flowers come in a range of colors, including red, white, pink, orange and even striped or multicolored varieties. The flowers can reach up to six inches in diameter, making a bold statement in any flower arrangement or centerpiece. Amaryllis are also versatile when it comes to display options. Displayed as a potted plant, its tall stems and flowers attract attention on tabletops or mantelpieces.
Alternatively, cut flowers can be arranged into bouquets, wreaths or even incorporated into seasonal floral compositions. The long vase life, often lasting up to two weeks, makes it an ideal choice for festive decoration.
Caring for your amaryllis plant after it blooms
Caring for amaryllis is relatively simple, making them an attractive choice for both experienced and novice gardeners. To encourage flowering during the Christmas season, there are a few things you should do once your plant has flowered, to care for it and keep it thriving year after year.
- For starters, bulbs should be planted approximately eight to ten weeks in advance. It requires a good soil mix and should be placed in a bright location with indirect sunlight. The soil should remain slightly moist, allowing it to dry out between watering. Fertilizers can be used during the growing period to promote healthy flowering.
- As it grows, regular watering of the plant is essential, but over-watering should be avoided to prevent bulb rot.
- Stem pruning should be done after the flower buds open, bloom and fade. Cut the stem with a sharp knife so that it is about six inches above the bulb. Make sure the sheets stay connected. It will continue to expand, and you will need it for photosynthesis to feed your plant.
- Move the amaryllis, still in the pot, outside where it will be exposed to filtered sunlight when the weather begins to warm.
- Water your flowers regularly until September.
- Bring the amaryllis pot indoors, remove all the leaves, and store it in a dark, cool (but not cold), dry place where it can lie dormant for a while.
- Bring your pot into the light and water it in December.
- To restart the process, keep the soil moist and place it in a window with full sun!
- Remember to stir the bowl occasionally as described above.
It is also important to know about outdoor amaryllis care
If you are a fan of outdoor plants, this is for you. Outdoor amaryllis care is possible in warmer regions. Bulbs can be grown in healthy, well-drained soil by planting them any time the soil temperature reaches 20°C or higher. Being a tropical plant, amaryllis prefer warm climates. Although it will thrive in situations ranging from full sun to partial shade, bright shade is the ideal location for it outside. Amaryllis can then be enjoyed for its lush leaves.
To ensure the plant’s vitality for the coming seasons, it is necessary to provide adequate care during its dormancy period. This includes reducing watering, allowing the leaves to wilt and die naturally. After that, the bulbs can be stored in a cool, dry place until the next planting season.
A very popular flowering plant for Christmas
Over the past several years, amaryllis have become an increasingly popular Christmas plant, due to their willingness to bloom indoors in winter and their bright, colorful flowers. Today, they are a trendy alternative to poinsettias or even Christmas cacti! In many households, amaryllis are a new holiday staple.
One thing is for sure, amaryllis are here to stay not just at Christmas but throughout the fall, winter and spring, making you the most colorful company ever. So, what color do you choose this year to make your home look more festive and full of life?
Featured image by nicbog, header image by stux.