The amaryllis genus is a very small one, only consisting of two species.
The amaryllis genus and the hippeastrum genus are often confused, as they produce very similar flowers which flower from bulbs.
Originally, they were all part of the same genus, until they were separated in the 1800s. Despite this distinction, many hippeastrum plants are typically labeled as amaryllis, especially those which are sold as seasonal houseplants.
The two bulbs within the amaryllis genus are Amaryllis paradisicola, and Amaryllis belladonna.
Both hail from South Africa, and are grown across the world for their large, colorful flowers, borne on lofty stems.
They can be grown outside or as seasonal houseplants, sure to inject plenty of color into any space.
It also helps that they are loved by many pollinators, and make long-lasting additions to bouquets.
Amaryllis Name Origin
The ancient Roman poet Virgil is responsible for the name of the genus. In the pastoral Eclogues, the name Amaryllis belongs to a shepherdess.
In the narrative, she loved a gardener, Alteo, who did not return her deepest feelings.
Every day for a month, she would walk to his front door, and use a golden arrow to pierce her heart.
Where her heart’s blood struck the earth, large, colorful flowers grew, and the amaryllis was created.
The belladonna amaryllis is also known as naked lady, because the flowers appear well before the leaves, often dying before the foliage even emerges from the bulb.
How To Tell The Difference Between Amaryllis Species
There aren’t many differences between the two species, and because they are minor, it can be difficult to know exactly which plant you may be looking at.
The most obvious difference is in the foliage. Amaryllis belladonna has very thin, long leaves, and Amaryllis paradisicola features much wider leaves, which look a little like tongues.
Amaryllis Flower Symbolism
The flowers belonging to the amaryllis genus represent pride, confidence, and sometimes unrequited love.
Amaryllis Growing Conditions
Both species within the genus are not demanding plants, but that doesn’t mean you should stick them anywhere and expect them to thrive.
These plants are hardy in USDA zones 7 through to 10, and bloom during summer, stretching into fall if the weather allows.
They prefer ericaceous soil which has plenty of drainage, helping to stop the bulbs from rotting.
Amaryllis flowers do well in partial shade or full sunlight, and don’t require a lot of maintenance or water. The thing you’ll need to watch out for is overwatering, which will cause the bulbs to rot and go moldy.
Depending on the species you go for, amaryllis plants may reach between 1 and 3 feet high. Each flower can reach up to an impressive 11cm wide, in shades of white or pink.