You can keep your poinsettias and your sprigs of mistletoe, this year we're all about celebrating the amaryllis – the ultimate, underrated festive flower.
These gorgeous red flowers are the perfect way to ring in the Christmas season. If we didn't enjoy them so much in their pots, we'd be swapping out our angel on the tree for this star-shaped bloom.
If you're looking to mix things up when it comes to that floral but festive table arrangement or are looking for a gift for a loved one, here's what you need to know about the oh-so-beautiful amaryllis when it comes to meanings, facts and how to care for this gorgeous flowering plant.
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These stunning flowers are believed to mean pride, strength and determination as they stand tall above all other winter blooms. Amaryllis is also a Greek name which means 'to sparkle'. Very in keeping with the festive season when we throw glitter at literally everything.
Wrap up and give an amaryllis flower to someone you're proud of or who you feel has done great things in the past 12 months – and we reckon the list is pretty long after everything that's happened in 2020!
Amaryllis and Greek mythology
Many flowers come with mysterious mythological stories attached to them and the amaryllis is no different. Its blood-red shade has a tragic (of course) tale behind it, with the story of a nymph called Amaryllis and a handsome shepherd called Alteo.
The story goes that Amaryllis was in love with Alteo and planned to let him know just how strongly she felt by piercing her heart every day with a golden arrow. These days we reckon a swipe right will do.
Alteo wasn't that impressed by this gory declaration of love and on the 30th day, he opened his door to find a red amaryllis flower had grown in her place, from her blood.
Dramatic, maybe. Great story? Definitely.
We think it's one to share at the dinner table when someone compliments your stunning amaryllis plant on the mantlepiece.
Amaryllis flower colour meanings
This flower doesn't just bloom in bold shades of red – although that's definitely our favourite. You can also find amaryllis in cool white hues, vivid purples and bubblegum pinks.
We've broken down what each of these colours is said to symbolise below if you're looking for a Christmas gift with a special meaning.
- Pink amaryllis – The flowers that grow in this feminine shade are believed to symbolise love and friendship. The perfect choice as a gift for a close friend at Christmas then.
- Purple amaryllis – Amaryllis flowers in deep shades of purple are associated with royalty and spirituality. Great for that pal who is all about aligning chakras and reading tarot cards.
- White amaryllis – In some cases, this colour amaryllis is chosen to represent sympathy flowers when mourning a loved one. Send white amaryllis to someone who has lost someone close to them to let them know you're thinking of them.
- Orange amaryllis – The fiery orange shades of this flower symbolise happiness and good health. It's a great choice for someone who you want to send get well wishes to.
- Yellow amaryllis – If you want to wish a loved one good luck then give them an amaryllis flower, whether it be for an exam they're prepping or if they're waiting for some big news.
Facts about amaryllis flowers
- Amaryllis is (distantly) related to lilies – They're like second cousins or something. That's why they remind us so much of those popular blooms.
- The bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom – In the world of the amaryllis, size matters. If you're a gardener, look for large amaryllis bulbs that will give you more stalks and flowers.
- Amaryllis comes from the Hippeastrum family, which means knight's star – This is because of the flowers' shape. There are over 90 species of flower in the Hippeastrum family – that's a big brood!
- Amaryllis bulbs can live for up to 75 years – You could enjoy the same flower, year after year, over an entire lifetime!
When do amaryllis bloom?
You'll find amaryllis is available to buy and enjoy between November and April but they're usually encouraged to flower just in time for the festive season. The perfect Christmas gift!
When they bloom, these stunning flowers should look their winter best for up to three weeks, whether you're enjoying them as a plant or as cuttings in an arrangement.
Amaryllis care – How to get the most from your plant
If you've received an amaryllis plant – lucky you! – here's how to ensure it looks its best for as long as possible.
- Feature your amaryllis in a bright spot but in indirect sunlight – These blooms thrive in shade or partial light, amaryllis isn't a plant that's looking for a sun tan.
- Avoid the fruit bowl – While it may look lovely filled with citrusy scented oranges and crisp red apples, fruit releases toxins that can make flowers wilt faster so keep your amaryllis away.
- Choose a spot away from draughts – No flower likes a cold chill, that means moving your amaryllis away from doors and windows.
- Water your plant every two weeks – When the flowers are in bloom keep your plant topped up every couple of weeks with water to ensure it stays looking strong. Amaryllis doesn't get thirsty easily, so check you're not drowning the soil.
- Be careful when cutting the stems – If you're taking cuttings from an amaryllis plant to spread some festive cheer, use a sharp knife and don't squish the stems because they're hollow.
- Opt for a sturdy vase if you're using amaryllis cuttings – Amaryllis has big flower heads that need all the support they can get when cut and featured in a vase.
How to feature amaryllis in your home
We're big fans of finding new ways to enjoy flowers every day. Here, we've rounded up some ways to feature this stunning festive bloom in your home:
- A festive wreath – Feature bright red amaryllis in that homemade wreath. Check out our guide to making an eco-friendly wreath here and enhance it with these bright red blooms.
- As a Christmas tree decoration – Add that final festive touch by featuring cut amaryllis flowers in amongst your tree decorations, pushing the stems into the branches so just the red flower heads peek out. You'll need to do this Christmas morning for guests to enjoy on the day but it's a simple and effective way of featuring these blooms.
- As a table arrangement – Let these flowers steal the show on your dining table, whether you've arranged a carb fuelled dinner party with your sibling or are setting the table for Christmas dinner with your nearest and dearest.
- As a gift – This plant is a ready-made Christmas present with its festive colours, it doesn't even need wrapping up to be well received! Place it by the tree and give to a loved one on Christmas morning.
- On the mantlepiece – Take amaryllis flowers and place these in amongst the foliage on the mantlepiece for a truly chic and stunning finish.
Enjoy amaryllis in your home this winter and be sure to check out our range of other Christmas plants to add a little festive greenery to your home.