Christmas is always a season of joy, celebration, and vibrant decorations and how more can one enhance the mood of the festive season than with, not just relevant symbols, but also floral displays? A flower that radiates the Christmas mood, the amaryllis possesses a unique beauty and an appealing presence. Known for its striking blooms and rich symbolism, this flower has always been valued during the festivities and continues to be a popular choice for Christmas decorations.
From its colorful history and symbolism to its versatility, definitely, all you need for the Christmas holidays is the presence of colorful amaryllis in your home. In fact, this is one of the 11 most popular plants and flowers for the holiday season. So, here is everything you need to know about this spectacular flowering plant that'll invade the homes of many for the holidays.
The Aesthetics of Amaryllis and All There Is to Know About It
The air around winter can make you long for the summer months with its mounds of soiled snow and barren trees. However, you can have a tiny piece of spring sprouting on your windowsill if you plant an amaryllis bulb or put some of the tall-cut hippeastrum in your longest vase!
The floral plant amaryllis (botanical name Hippeastrum) emerges from a bulb. Each bulb develops one to three stems, each bearing four to eight star-shaped funnel blooms that can be white, red, or pink. Later, the flower stems will be joined by long, broad green leaves.
Amaryllis typically bloom in January, so planting them is a great way to spruce up your home during the chilly months and begin the year with a cheerful heart. Plus, if you follow the right care steps and guidelines, you will be able to recycle the same plant year after year and enjoy its blooms every winter.
The Origins of Amaryllis
The amaryllis, scientifically known as Hippeastrum, is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of South America. Its name is derived from the Greek word ‘amarysso’, which means ‘to 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 different kinds of tropical plants from Central and South America's Hippeastrum genus. A true Amaryllis genus exists as well, although it only has two species that are indigenous to South Africa. However, these are not the amaryllis plants that are typically grown in the United States.
Despite the fact that the bulbs can bloom at other times of the year, many people grow amaryllis to produce houseplants that bloom in the winter.
Gorgeous Hippeastrum in Greek Historical Context
Many festive varieties of amaryllis are available, some with tales that can be associated with Christmas themes. Greek lore tells of a shy maiden named Amaryllis who fell in love with Alteo, a shepherd endowed with the strength of Hercules and the good looks of Apollo himself. Her affections unrequited, Amaryllis sought to consult with the oracle of Delphi.
Following the oracle’s advice, Amaryllis would dress in maiden’s white and wait outside Alteo’s door for thirty nights, piercing her lovelorn heart with a golden arrow each night. Alteo fell in love with the maiden when he discovered her, surrounded by beautiful amaryllis flowers, on his doorstep.
Aesthetics, Versatility, and Significance of This Plant During Christmas
There’s a reason flowers make such cherished and valued gifts. Such include their distinct meanings, flower symbolism, history, and the intriguing, often fantastical lore associated with them, in addition to their obvious visual appeal. There are, in fact, plenty of reasons flowers have always been deemed singular, and special. Amaryllis, one of the world's modern favorites in flowering plants, has some of the most fascinating symbolism associated with it.
In Victorian times, amaryllis came to symbolize strength and determination, due to its tall height and sturdiness. Amaryllis plants were also the living symbol of love, willpower, and ethereal beauty, and an ideal gift for those you love and care for.
In contemporary times, this plant still holds these deep imageries, making it a meaningful choice for Christmas decorations. Its tall, sturdy stem and large, trumpet-shaped blooms are often associated with strength and determination. The vibrant red varieties are particularly popular during the holiday season, symbolizing love, passion, and affection. Additionally, the amaryllis represents radiant beauty and transformation, making it a fitting choice for celebrating the birth of new beginnings during Christmas.
One of the unique qualities of the 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 blossoms can grow up to six inches in diameter, making a bold statement in any floral arrangement or centerpiece. The amaryllis is also highly versatile when it comes to display options. It can be showcased as a potted plant, with its tall stem and blooms commanding attention on tabletops or mantelpieces.
Alternatively, the cut flowers can be arranged in bouquets, wreaths, or even incorporated into seasonal floral installations. Their long vase life, often lasting up to two weeks, makes them an ideal choice for festive decorations.
Caring for Your Amaryllis Plant After It Blooms
Caring for amaryllis is relatively simple, making it an attractive option for both experienced gardeners and beginners. To encourage flowering during the Christmas season, there are a few things you should do once your plant blooms, to take care of it and keep it blossoming year after year.
- For starters, the bulbs should be planted approximately eight to ten weeks earlier. They require a well-draining soil mix and should be positioned in a bright location with indirect sunlight. The soil should be kept slightly moist, allowing it to dry out between watering. Fertilizers can be applied during the growth period to promote healthy blooms.
- During its growth, regular watering of the plant is essential, but overwatering should be avoided to prevent bulb rot.
- Trimming the stem should be done after the flower buds have opened, flowered, and faded. Cut the stalk with a sharp knife so that it is about six inches above the bulb. Make sure the leaves remain attached. They will keep expanding, and you need them for photosynthesis to feed your plant.
- Move your amaryllis, still in the pot, outside where it will be exposed to filtered sunshine as the weather begins to warm up.
- Water your flowers regularly until September.
- Bring your amaryllis pot indoors, remove all the leaves, and store it somewhere dark, cool (but not cold), and dry where it can go dormant for a while.
- Bring your pot into the light and water it in December.
- To restart the process, keep the soil moist and put it in a window with sunlight!
- Remember to occasionally turn the pot as described above.
Outdoor Amaryllis Care Is Also Important to Know About
If you're more of an outdoor plant lover, this is for you. Amaryllis's care outdoors is possible in warmer zones. The bulbs can be grown in healthy, well-drained soil by planting them anytime the soil reaches 20 degrees Celsius or higher. Being a tropical plant, amaryllis prefers warm climates. Although it will thrive in situations ranging from full sun to partial shade, bright shade is the ideal setting for it outside. The amaryllis can, then, be enjoyed for its lush foliage.
To ensure the plant's vitality for future seasons, it is essential to provide adequate care during its dormant period. This involves reducing watering, allowing the leaves to wither and die naturally. Afterward, the bulbs can be stored in a cool, dry place until the next planting season.
A Really Popular Christmas Flowering Plant
Over the last several years, amaryllis has increasingly become a popular Christmas plant, due to its willingness to bloom indoors in winter and its bright, colorful flowers. Today, they’re a fashionable alternative to poinsettias or even Christmas cacti! In many households, amaryllis is a new holiday staple.
One thing's for sure, amaryllis is here to stay not only for X-Mas but throughout fall, winter, and spring keeping you the most colorful company of all. So, what color are you choosing this year to make your house look more festive and full of life?