by K. Marc Teffeau, Ph.D.
Amaryllis, Cyclamens & Kalanchoes Tired of giving poinsettias for Christmas? There are other ~ and I think nicer ~ options. Consider the lovely amaryllis. Amaryllis, a.k.a. Hippeastrum (its correct name), can be purchased at any stage of development, from a single bulb, all the way to the “puffy bud” stage. When considering the amaryllis there sometimes seems to be confusion surrounding its name. Hippeastrum is the plant’s scientific name, while amaryllis is it’s common name. It is often confused with another bulbous plant from South Africa, the Amaryllis belladonna, that is the only species in the genus Amaryllis. What we refer to as an amaryllis has 4 to 6 large flowers on a hollow stem, while the Amaryllis belladonna has 6 to 12 smaller flowers on a solid stem. Although the Hippeastrum can be grown outside in the garden in climatic zones 9 and 10, this bulbous plant is still much more suited to flowering indoors.
It is interesting that amaryllis is popular again. They used to be thought of as a “little old lady’s plant.” As a result of extensive hybridization, amaryllis can now be found in an array of colors. Small flowering (gracilis) varieties and have caught on as a cut flower. Forcing amaryllis bulbs to flower inside is popular because it is so easy to do. What’s more, once the bulbs have flowered, they can be stored and brought into flower again. For the holiday season, most 83
December 2015 Tidewater Times