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Amaryllis Meaning and Symbolism

Red and white amaryllis flowers with christmas decorations in the background

The big, bright blooms of the amaryllis add welcome cheer to homes throughout the year. But what do these flowers symbolize? Since they’re often gifted during the winter, many people have come to associate these flowers with the holidays. However, there’s a lot more depth to amaryllis symbolism.

These crimson flowers are seen as symbols of strength, love, beauty, and determination. Couple the amaryllis’ beautiful appearance with this pleasant symbolism and you have one great flower! With that in mind, you might want to consider ordering one of these flowers when you purchase a few mixed flower bouquets.

The Origin of the Name Amaryllis

To learn about the history of this flower’s name, you’ll need to look at Greek mythology. Before there was the Amaryllis flower, there was a nymph and a shepherd.

The story goes that the timid nymph Amaryllis fell in love with the handsome shepherd Alteo. As is often the case, Alteo didn’t feel the same way. Although her love was unrequited, Amaryllis was determined to win over Alteo. In her quest for a foolproof game plan, she consulted the Oracle of Delphi.

The Oracle of Delphi’s instructions were a little out of the ordinary, but Amaryllis flowered them anyways. For thirty days, she walked to Alteo’s home while piercing her heart with a gold arrow. Although he saw her blood and devotion, he didn’t return her love. On the thirtieth day, Amaryllis pierced her heart once again. This time, radiant red flowers emerged from the place where her blood hit the ground. Upon seeing these flowers, Alteo recognized Amaryllis’ beauty and returned her love.

An Alternative Origin Story

While many people think Amaryllis is named after the nymph, there are other theories. Some people think the name is derived from the Greek word “amarysso” which means sparkle.

What Does the Amaryllis Symbolize?

While the story of Amaryllis and Alteo impacts much of this flower’s symbolism, the flower’s growth habits and appearance also influence its meaning.

Strength

Some people view the tall and study amaryllis stems as symbols of strength. During the Victorian Era, people sometimes gave amaryllis to others to show they thought they were strong.

Of course, the tale of Amaryllis and Alteo also speaks to strength. Piercing your own heart over and over again isn’t an easy thing to do!

Love-+

While it might not be a traditional love story, the tale of Amaryllis and Alteo means this flower is a symbol of all-powerful love. We’re not talking about a simple crush or fling, but a love that impacts every other part of your love.

If you’re looking for an alternative to a dozen roses, go ahead and send your love a bouquet of amaryllis. You could also give them an amaryllis bulb so they can watch the flower bloom as a reminder that your love will only grow.

Beauty

There’s no questioning the beauty of the amaryllis. Its tall stems and trumpet-shaped flowers know how to capture attention and demand second-takes. While all of these flowers are gorgeous, modern cultivars are especially stunning.

If you’d like to add some beauty to a loved one’s home, send them a bouquet of amaryllis. Hint, hint: these flowers make great housewarming gifts!

Determination

If the story of Amaryllis and Alteo teaches us anything, it’s that determination sometimes pays off. With this story in mind, it’s no surprise that the amaryllis flower symbolizes determination.

The flower’s growth also shows determination. While these bulb flowers typically bloom in the spring, they find a way to emerge when the time is right. When dormant bulbs come into contact with moisture and warm temperatures, they sprout and form beautiful flowers.

With this symbolism in mind, consider giving an amaryllis to someone who needs a bit of encouragement. Have a friend struggling to complete a tough class? Send them an amaryllis! Is your brother overwhelmed with starting a new business? Send one of these flowers their way!

Patience

The growth habit of the amaryllis also symbolizes patience. As a perennial bulb, the amaryllis produces a flower that dies after a couple of months. It then spends a few months gathering and saving the energy that’s needed to produce a new flower. If you practice patience, you’ll be able to see the amaryllis bloom over and over again.

If you’d like to remind someone to be patient, send them an amaryllis bulb. As they watch the bulb sprout then bloom, they’ll remember that some good things take time.

The Meaning of Different Amaryllis Colors

While red amaryllis comprises the most popular varieties of flowers, other colors also exist. Each of these colors has its own symbolism.

Red Amaryllis

The red amaryllis is a symbol of deep love and romance. This isn’t cute playground love, but rather the deep affection you feel for a romantic partner.

These red flowers are also tied to Christmas and other winter holidays.

White Amaryllis

Like many other white flowers, the white amaryllis is seen as a symbol of purity and innocence. Therefore, it’s often used in weddings and at funerals.

Pink Amaryllis

While red flowers symbolize romantic love, pink amaryllis symbolize friendship and playful love. They’re a good option if you’d like to brighten someone’s day and let you know you’ve got their back.

Purple Amaryllis

Purple amaryllis are tied to royalty and respect. If you want to send an amaryllis to a teacher or supervisor, purple is a good choice.

Amaryllis and the Holidays

While poinsettias and pines are the heavy hitters when it comes to holiday decor, amaryllis are making their way into the lineup. In recent years, people have begun decorating their winter homes with red and white amaryllis.

Since amaryllis are grown from bulbs, humans can determine when the flowers bloom. The first step is to force the bulbs into dormancy. Once they’re in this inactive state, they’re stored in cool and dry conditions. When you want them to bloom, all you have to do is plant them in a warm area and water well.

While winter is known for colder temperatures, most people keep their houses warm and cozy. It turns out these conditions are perfect for convincing amaryllis bulbs to bloom!

Amaryllis and Huntington’s Disease

Since the amaryllis is often used as a symbol of strength, those battling Huntington’s Disease have adopted the flower as a symbol of their fight. It also serves as a reminder of the advancements that have been made as well as the hope for a cure.

Amaryllis Facts

If you’d like to learn more about these stunning flowers, check out these amaryllis facts.

Not a Lily

Although amaryllis flowers resemble lilies, they aren’t related to these popular flowers. However, it’s easy to get confused since other common names for amaryllis include belladonna lily and Jersey lily.

So what is the amaryllis related to? The Amaryllis genus only contains two species of flowers. Both of these plants are more closely related to asparagus than true lilies.

A Bit of a Genetic Mystery

While the Amaryllis genus currently contains only two species, this wasn’t always the case. Famed taxonomist Carl Linneaus first named the Amaryllis genus in 1753. At this point, both plants from South Africa and South America were included in the genus.

Over time, botanists recognized that these two groups of plants were genetically distinct. They kept the name Amaryllis for the South African plants and gave the genus name Hippeastrum to the South American plants.

While the Amaryllis genus only contains two species, the Hippeastrum genus contains 90 species of flowering plants.

All Kinds of Colors

While red and white flowers are the most common, plant breeders have produced other types of amaryllis. Here are some varieties you may want to check out.

Papilio has broad white petals with fine red stripes.
Bogota has light red, elongated petals. The narrow petal tips tend to curl, creating a whimsical appearance.
Royal Velvet has deep maroon petals that give off a cozy and sensual vibe.

More Than One Bloom

Many people buy amaryllis bulbs, let them bloom once, and then pitch them. We’re here to tell you there is a better way!

Amaryllis can bloom more than once, as long as you provide the proper care. They can even produce multiple flowers in the same year.

There are a few tricks to getting your flowers to bloom again. First, remove the flower once it has wilted and make sure to leave the stalk. Once the flower stalk has turned yellow you can gently cut it off.

Make sure you don’t remove the little leaf tips — these will help the plant get the energy it needs to produce a new bloom. Place your bulb in a sunny location and feed it each month with a fertilizer designed for flowering plants.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be rewarded with another beautiful amaryllis bloom!

More Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Now that you know about the meaning and symbolism behind the amaryllis, go ahead and learn about some other flowers. Check out chrysanthemum meaning and symbolism, carnation meaning and symbolism, or hydrangea meaning and symbolism next!

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