Garden Dirt: Amaryllis - The magic of Mother Nature comes to life
By Linda Hartman - Victoria County Master GardenersEdited by Charla Borchers Leon
Dec. 20, 2012 at 6:20 a.m.
Everyone is fascinated with magic. Although the expressions of children bring us much joy, adults can enjoy the magic of Mother Nature. Just imagine one amazingly beautiful plant, which will bring bright colors for the holiday season with the feeling of magic and you have the sensational amaryllis.
Magic in the bulb
Amaryllis bulbs contain the fledgling plants with the stems, blossoms and foliage enclosed in a papery covering. With warmth and a little water, the growing process begins its magic.
Plant the bulb so that its "shoulders" are clear of the potting mix and the "nose" of the bulb is above the rim of the pot. Put it in a bright place and don't over water. Turn the pot occasionally as it grows to keep the stalk from leaning into the light. The blooms should appear in about six weeks. Once it blooms, keep it well watered and out of direct sun.
Using the protective white layers of the bulb as fuel for the initial activity, the amaryllis does not depend on an extensive root system until the second and following seasons.
Amaryllis bulbs were carried from the mountains of Chile in South America to Europe where they were hybridized in Holland. Some species originated from South Africa and others from the island of Barbados. Since we live in a zone that is conducive to growing the amaryllis in our gardens, we can enjoy different varieties all year around.
Types of magical bulbs
Amaryllis varieties are often named for characteristics they possess in nature.
The trumpet amaryllis will produce three stems with four to six flowers per stem. The trumpet-shaped flowers will face outward and will gradually hang down as they mature. This one is a cultivar and is lightly fragrant. Look for red lion, duo double white, red ruffle or exotic peacock in your search for the perfect amaryllis.
The Cybister amaryllis is an exotic, species type variety. It is characterized by slender, spidery flowers and may be grown all year in good-sized pots. The bulbs are smaller than others, but they may bloom for 8-12 weeks. La paz, Ruby Meyer, Lima, Bogata and emerald are the names of some Cybister amaryllis.
Flowering or floral
The large flowering amaryllis, also known as the floral amaryllis, will grow to 22 inches in height while the double flowering amaryllis grows to 20 inches. Look for Minerva, clown and apple blossom for delightful varieties in color. The dwarf amaryllis will provide up to 12 flowers and will grow to 18 inches tall.
The butterfly amaryllis is a tropical perennial, which will bloom in late winter to early spring. The flower's face resembles a butterfly (often mistaken as an orchid) and grows best in bright light, but not full sun. It is deer-resistant, poisonous to people and pets, but not to bees, butterflies and birds. Must be magic.
Spring, summer boomers
Amaryllis belladonna lily is often identified as naked lily and is considered a true amaryllis. The leaves will appear in the autumn to spring and then disappear to be followed by a rosy pink bloom in mid- to late-summer.
Other amaryllises for the spring or summer include:
Barbados amaryllis or Barbados lily which will produce a red, scarlet or pink blossom with a greenish-yellow throat;
Mexican amaryllis or ascension lily, which should be planted in April and will produce a scarlet red with star-shaped green marking.
Knight's star amaryllis, which will have light red to pink petals having red speckles, brown veins and green throats.
St. Joseph's amaryllis will have a white bloom with red stripes lining each petal.
Horticulturists with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service recommend St. Joseph's amaryllis as it does well outdoors in our mild winters.
A lasting gift
There is still time to select an amaryllis for someone who loves a blooming gift this holiday season. And whether your amaryllis is a gift from a friend, or one to yourself, you will enjoy this magical flower for years. By planting amaryllises in stages, they will bloom sequentially the first year. Try this practice to extend your magical experience for a longer season.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.