cut flower of the month
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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
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.
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
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
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
All parts of these bulb flowers can cause minor
illness, if ingested, so keep them out of the reach of children
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.
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).
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
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.
To arrange amaryllises
into floral foam, follow these steps.
Always place amaryllises into designs before any
other flowers or foliages.
the bases of the stems with waterproof tape to
Invert the flowers, and fill the hollow stems with
Insert two plant stakes so they extend beyond the
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:
by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® ,
Dictionary of Plant Names,
by Allen J. Coombes
by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners,
by William T. Stearn