The Butterfly of Winter: Amaryllises

Photography by Kindra Clineff
2. Amaryllises are starbursts of color. 

An amaryllis flower is memorable. Each bloom is an artistic masterpiece of magnificent color in the white, cream, peach, pink, and red realms. The reds range from glistening cherry to darkest burgundy. White and cream have been part of the amaryllis repertoire for a long time, but newer varieties add a touch of chartreuse to the brew. Streaks of various shades are often part of the drama. And each petal is thick, waxy, and glistening to catch the light as it pours through whichever window is hosting your display. For an apt analogy, think sparkling butterflies defined in a blossom.

Photography by Kindra Clineff
3. Each stem offers multiple wide blossoms that unfold into a large display. 

But there’s more because amaryllises do not limit their performance to a single flower. Each bulb typically forms a truss of blossoms that looks like a series of trumpets facing various directions, so each stem can balance three, four, or more blossoms. In fact, an amaryllis’s only fault is that the blossom spires can sometimes become so top-heavy that they topple from the burden of their massive flowers. The many-petaled double versions are particularly heavily laden with pizzazz. It might be wise to give them supports early in their career. And the beat goes on because more stems are often in the wake, prolonging the perks for months. Amaryllises are also ideal for beginners. No green thumb necessary, the cultivation of these wintertime mainstays is blithely effortless. Literally, just pop a bulb into the soil, and it will pick up the performance from there without coaxing. The bulbs prefer to sit just below the soil surface in a shallow container.