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Hyacinth - February 2010(printable PDF)
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Hippeastrum spp. (hip-ee-AS-trum)

Amaryllis, Barbados lily

     Amaryllises’ showy blooms are trumpet shaped and range from 3 to 8 inches in diameter. There are generally three to five blooms atop of each stem. Blooms can be single flowered, with 6 “petals”; double flowered, with 12; or triple flowered, with 18. Some new hybrids have narrower petals, giving the blooms a spidery/lilylike appearance. Stems are hollow, leafless, light green and typically range from 16 to 30 inches in length.

     These bulb flowers are available in both solid colors and bicolors (usually striped or mottled), in a palette that comprises reds, ranging from pink to burgundy; red-orange; orange; salmon; and white, as well as new yellow and yellow-green varieties.

     Amaryllises can last eight to 14 days, depending on variety and care, with individual blooms lasting two to five days each.

     Today, because of new varieties and global markets, cut amaryllises are available almost year-round; however, peak commercial production occurs from around October through March or April. Check with your favorite supplier(s) for availability.

vase-life extenders


     Immediately remove amaryllises from the shipping boxes, and check flower quality. Recut the stems, on an angle, with a sharp knife, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately after cutting, dip or place the stem ends into a hydration solution, then place them into containers with 4 to 6 inches of properly proportioned room-temperature bulb-flower-food solution.

     Amaryllises are tropical bulb flowers (see “Fun Facts: Home Sweet Home”), so they prefer refrigeration at temperatures between 41 F and 50 F. Allow them to hydrate in the cooler for at least two hours before using or selling them. If open blooms are needed quickly, store these flowers out of the cooler, at room temperature.

     Amaryllises are extremely sensitive to ethylene gas. Make sure those you purchase are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level or during shipping. In addition, keep them away from sources of ethylene such as ripening fruit, decaying flowers and foliage, automobile exhaust, and tobacco smoke because the gas will hasten development and decrease their lives, as well as cause crepey and wilting blooms.

     Amaryllis stem ends are prone to splitting and curling; however, some research suggests this can be reduced by placing the stems into a sugar solution (made with 2 tablespoons per quart of water) for 24 hours prior to sale or use. Some florists also wrap the bases of the stems with waterproof tape to prevent the problems.


     Instruct customers to recut the stems and to change the vase solution every other day using the bulb-flower nutrient you provide. Also advise them to cut off blooms as they fade, to carefully remove pollen-bearing anthers as soon as blooms open, and to keep the flowers out of direct sunlight and warm and cold drafts.

     All parts of these bulb flowers can cause minor illness, if ingested, so keep them out of the reach of children and pets.


  fun facts  

WHAT’S IN A NAME “Hippeastrum” is said to derive from the Greek words hippos, for horse, and astron, for star, because the blooms once were considered to resemble a horse’s head, at a certain stage in their opening, and because of the star-shaped form of the open flowers.

“Amaryllis” was the name of a lovelorn shepherdess in Greek mythology who pierced her own heart to produce a new flower from her blood, to attract the attention of a flower- and plant-loving shepherd she desired.

FAMILY MATTERS The genus Hippeastrum is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. Close relatives include Clivia, Eucharis, Narcissus and Nerine.

HOME SWEET HOME Amaryllises are native to the Caribbean region and to tropical and subtropical South America (Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina).


purchasing advice

  • Look for stems with puffy, undamaged buds that are just showing color. One or two buds can be just starting to open. Avoid stems with mold, rot or brown spots on the blossoms or stems.

  • Amaryllises are extremely sensitive to ethylene gas, so make sure the flowers you purchase have been treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level or during transportation. Buy only from a grower or supplier whose veracity you can trust.

  design tips  

To arrange amaryllises into floral foam, follow these steps.

  • Always place amaryllises into designs before any other flowers or foliages.

  • Wrap the bases of the stems with waterproof tape to prevent splitting.

  • Invert the flowers, and fill the hollow stems with bulb-flower-food solution.

  • Insert two plant stakes so they extend beyond the stem ends.

  • Plug the stem ends with cotton.

  • Turn the flowers upright, and insert the stakes into the floral foam, bringing stem ends into contact with the wet floral foam and gently pressing them slightly into the foam.


Some information provided by:

Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® ,
Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners, by William T. Stearn

Super Floral Retailing •• • Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.