PlantTherapy: Amaryllis

PlantTherapy: Amaryllis

Maxwell Ryan
Dec 23, 2006

I remember the first time I saw amaryllis in NYC shops as a cut flower. I could hardly believe my eyes as I looked at the many buckets stocked with the red, white and pink blossoms...

What most of us get when we ask for amaryllis is actually hippeastrum. Amaryllis is a sexier name, but I still can't help feeling sorry for poor, unknown hippeastrum.

We have come to associate this bulb with the cold months, due to its popularity at Christmas. But, just like the cyclamen, these also come from a much warmer place. They can be kept in our colder climate, but need a helping hand. If you plant them in the garden or outside in containers they still need to be dug up/brought in before the frost hits. Your indoor ones can be brought outside in May and then brought back in later in the year before the frost settles in again. And, with a bit of luck and after a rest, you may see new shoots coming up again. These plants rest - but do not need to go into a dark closet, etc; they just need to relax their leaves for a few weeks/months before getting back to business.

These flowers have a bold and graphic shape. The stems are thick and green, reminding me of massive bubble-tea straws. One or two stalks alone with a few pine boughs make for a striking and simple holiday arrangement. I have a special affection for all the red and green that appears at this time of year. For me, these two colors could not be captured more perfectly and powerfully than in this burgandy variety that I picked up at my florist (Century Florist, on the UES - not in my neighborhood, but I always pass them on my way home).

- Matt

matt at apartmenttherapy dot com

Created with Sketch.