Why does Bloomaker only import the large sized Amaryllises?
The bulb is an energy storing organ. The more bulb reserves an amaryllis (Hippeastrum) has, the more flowers the plant can produce. In general, only large amaryllis bulbs will produce more than one flower scape or spike, but this is dependent on the cultivar. A bulb must produce at least eight to twelve large, healthy leaves in the summer growing season before it can send up a scape the following year. Depending on the bulb treatment and bulb size after harvest, some bulbs can produce up to two flower scapes at the same time or they may wait several weeks between blooms. Sometimes you will also find the second scape to have only two or three flowers rather than the usual four.
After a good bulb treatment and potting, leaves and flowers appear at about the same time. Dependent on the temperature and treatment by the grower, bulbs can produce flowers first, then, after it has finished blooming, the plant will begin growing leaves. On the other hand it can happen that first only leaves appear and later the flowers.
What is the story of the Amaryllis? What is the origin of the name Amaryllis?
The Amaryllis is native to the tropical zone of South America, roughly between the two tropics.
The botanical name of Amaryllis is “Hippeastrum” and is in Greek for “horseman’s star” (also known today as “knight’s star”). The name was chosen in 1837 by the Honorable Reverend William Herbert, Dean of Manchester.
No one is entirely sure why he picked this name, although buds on the verge of opening do look something like a horse’s ear and clearly the blossoms do resemble six-pointed stars.
It seems likely however, as William Herbert was both a clergyman and something of an expert on early medieval history, that he chose the name because of the plant's striking resemblance to the ‘morning star,’ a medieval weapon used by horsemen. A version of the weapon was also called a ‘holy water sprinkler,’ an ecclesiastical object the Dean would have been familiar with.
Where do the Amaryllis bulbs come from?
The first commercial breeders of Amaryllis were Dutch growers who imported several species from Mexico and South America and began developing cultivars and hybrids from them in the 18th century; the first of these reached North America early in the 19th century. In 1946, two Dutch growers moved to the Union of South Africa and began cultivation there.
Although most amaryllises come from the Dutch and South African sources, bulbs are now being developed and grown in the United States, Japan, Israel, India, Thailand, Brazil, Peru and Australia. The double flowers from Japan are particularly beautiful.