Amaryllis bulbs pop up a lot in retail stores around the holidays because of the beautiful color of their blooms and their ability to bloom indoors during the winter months. But did you know there are two different types of amaryllis?
The other variety might surprise you, because it’s not connected to Christmas at all. Commonly called “naked ladies” for their leafless stems, those pretty pink blooms that pop up unexpectedly in gardens and yards around the neighborhood are also amaryllis flowers. Even though they are a very distant relative, amaryllis flowers are also commonly known as the resurrection or Easter lily, belladonna lily, Jersey lily, and Amarillo.
These lovely buds are native to the Cape Provinces of South Africa and were introduced into cultivation in the 18th century. They flower annually and propagate slowly through bulb division or seeding, which is why you will see more of them each year if they are left alone. Their bulbs are large and heavy and generally produce concentrated blooms that grow together tightly in clumps of two or three.
Meaning "pride, determination, and radiant beauty," the amaryllis flower has a symbiotic relationship with carpenter bees, which are the main pollinators for these blooms. An amaryllis belladonna hybrid was bred in Australia in the 1800s, which produced a new set of color variations that included peach, white, cream, magenta, and red hues. Some amaryllis hybrids come in a variety of pink shades and can even have stripes, white or light-yellow centers, veining, or darkened edges. This is why you will see a broad range of sizes, colors, and shapes that also carry the name amaryllis but don’t look like the classic holiday flower.
If you receive a potted amaryllis bulb as a gift, remember that they can bloom again every year with proper care. Sadly, many of these bulbs never get cultivated or are considered “one and done” and are often thrown away after they bloom. In actuality, they get better over time and will produce more blooms each year that will continue to increase in size. So, if you receive an amaryllis plant this year, be sure to give it the proper care, along with a little love (and water!) so it will continue to thrive year after year.
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