Category Archives: Amaryllis

Staff Members Choose Their Favorite Amaryllis

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Choosing which Amaryllis varieties to order for yourself or as gifts can be a challenge. This is especially true if you’re selecting from among the 84 varieties we’re offering this season. When choosing, some of us instinctively select by color – red, pink, white, or bicolor. Others by form – Single, Double, Nymph, Cybister, or Small-Flowering. If you’re looking for more help in narrowing your choices, read below. We asked 12 staff members to choose one favorite Amaryllis variety and to tell us why it’s their top choice. Their remarks might steer you to some surprises. (The photos of these glorious flowers probably won’t hurt either.)

Amaryllis 'Spartacus'
Amaryllis ‘Spartacus’

Amaryllis ‘Spartacus’

‘I’d have to pick ‘Spartacus’ for it’s large blooms and bold color and pattern. The red and white provide a wonderful contrast, while not overpowering each other. Plus when the sun hits it just right the petals produce an iridescent shine you can get lost in.’

Sean

Amaryllis 'Tres Chic'
Amaryllis ‘Tres Chic’

Amaryllis ‘Tres Chic’

‘I love this amaryllis because although it has smaller blooms it makes up for it by knocking my socks off with tons of long lasting flowers. I usually get three to four flower stalks per bulb with 4-6 blooms per stalk. The blooms are gorgeous, the green throat and the contrast between the white centers and the beautiful red outer edge is just classically beautiful. If I could pick just one to grow every year (which I never do), this would be it!’

Martha

Amaryllis 'Purple Rain'
Amaryllis ‘Purple Rain’

Amaryllis ‘Purple Rain’

‘One of my favorite varieties is ‘Purple Rain.’ The large, exotic bi-colored blooms are so striking you have to get close to see if they are real. The closeup reveals intricate veining and a gorgeous sheen to the flower.  (And it’s the perfect year to honor Prince!)’

Barb

Amaryllis 'Picotee'
Amaryllis ‘Picotee’

Amaryllis ‘Picotee’

‘I like ‘Picotee’ – it has a very delicate flower, neutral palette, and it strikes me as funny/fascinating that there’s genetic coding for the edging color, which seems like pure ornament . . .’

Eliot

Amaryllis 'Lagoon'
Amaryllis ‘Lagoon’

Amaryllis ‘Lagoon’

‘My fave is ‘Lagoon.’ Years ago we had ‘Vera,’ almost the same, a gorgeous rich pink. No star in the middle. I love it after the holidays because it is not red or white. It goes with green so well, and we have lots of shades of green in our house. When I force paperwhites, they look beautiful together. And the blue hyacinth as well.’

Susan

Amaryllis 'Double Delicious'
Amaryllis ‘Double Delicious’

Amaryllis ‘Double Delicious’

‘I love the bright red pop of color, the sculptural flowers, and the large size of the double blooms! Every time I see it, it brightens my day, and lights up my office!’

Liz

Amaryllis Benfica®
Amaryllis Benfica®

Amaryllis Benfica®

‘My fave is Benfica because that rich, deep red has bloomed in my house through the beginning of February so it’s like love is exploding on my mantle on Valentine’s Day.’

Mary

Amaryllis 'Alfresco'
Amaryllis ‘Alfresco’

Amaryllis ‘Alfresco’

[Two staff members picked this one!]

‘As a gift or for myself, the white blooms go with any décor, and they are uniformly enormous and showy. They really do prompt people who receive them to thank me twice – once when they get it, and once again when it blooms. Last year, I got a hand-written note about one . . .’

Margret

‘Incredibly prolific, lots of stems holding lots of blooms, the blooms seem to just keep coming!’

Rob

Amaryllis 'Aphrodite'
Amaryllis ‘Aphrodite’

Amaryllis ‘Aphrodite’

‘The ‘Aphrodite’ Amaryllis is my favorite for its beautiful coloring and ruffled edges. It is a true feminine beauty that will draw you in, and the name speaks for itself!’

Shantelle

Amaryllis 'Flamenco Queen'
Amaryllis ‘Flamenco Queen’

Amaryllis ‘Flamenco Queen’

‘Best one I remember from last year’s trials was ‘Flamenco Queen.’ What struck me was the dark red color with white overtones on top of each flower with the lighter reddish white bottom. The lighter color on bottom most of the time had a red edge to the flower petal, not only very striking visually, but also the lighter bottom was very consistent in all the flowers.’

Ray

Amaryllis 'Terra Mystica'
Amaryllis ‘Terra Mystica’

Amaryllis ‘Terra Mystica’

‘In trials last year, this one stood out from all the others. A small-flowering variety, it produces a remarkable number of blooms in a warm terra-cotta color. Each petal is neatly edged in white as if a very fine tailor had seen to every last detail.’

Deb

Amaryllis in Greenhouse

The Amaryllis Trials Are On

Amaryllis trials 2016

In the midst of a Connecticut winter, one of our greatest pleasures is to make our way each day to the greenhouse where we annually conduct our Amaryllis trials. Picking our way across a wintry landscape with snow-covered acres and bare trees, we open the door onto a scene more closely reminiscent of the tropics. A burst of moist air fogs up our eyeglasses, the scent of damp earth greets our noses, and rows of colorful blossoms sparkle in the winter sun.

Our Amaryllis trials are many months in the making. The process begins in March when our company president, Lorraine Calder, visits growers in Holland and selects new varieties to sample. She might also take a fresh look at some tried-and-true varieties that have been grown for years and are ripe for a comeback. All of the bulbs she is shown are 2 years old, which matches the age and size of the bulbs White Flower Farm offers its customers.

Lorraine Looks for Amaryllis with Interesting Color Combinations
Lorraine looks for Amaryllis with Interesting color combinations.

In making her selections, Lorraine keeps an eye out for Amaryllis that are different in some way from the varieties we currently offer. She might be drawn to an Amaryllis that flowers in a unique color, shows interesting patterns or details on its petals, has a notable blossom size or shape, or has a stem that is especially tall, or short or colored. She seeks out Amaryllis varieties that have considerable flower power and have been shown to consistently produce a generous number of blossoms.

pink and white Amaryllis
Pink and white Amaryllis

Lorraine makes her final selections and places the order for bulbs. As she returns to Connecticut, the bulbs are planted in greenhouses in Holland then, months later, harvested and loaded into temperature-controlled shipping containers for their trip across the sea. When they arrive in Connecticut the following November, our head gardener, Cheryl Whalen, begins the trialing process. In December, she pots the bulbs in soil and places them in the greenhouse where they receive occasional water and the brightest sun that winter has to offer.

The number of Amaryllis varieties tested each year varies. This winter, we’re trialing almost 20 new ones, which means growing roughly five to 10 bulbs of each type. In addition, we’re growing a sampling of the varieties we currently offer. It’s the surest way we know to make certain that year after year, these bulbs meet our expectations – and yours.

Our head gardener, Cheryl Whalen, is the only one allowed to water the trial Amaryllis!

Each trial process generally includes a range of varieties: Single, Double, Bicolor, Cybister, Small-Flowering, and South African. As the bulbs sprout stems and begin to flower, a process that unfolds over roughly 8 to 10 weeks, Cheryl follows the development of each variety, taking notes and pictures. Bulbs are evaluated for vigor, quality of individual attributes, and overall performance, and to determine whether or not they live up to a growers’ billing.

When the new Amaryllis achieve full bloom in and around late January or February, a team of staff members selects “winners,” the varieties that will be offered to White Flower Farm customers. Only varieties that are beautiful, unusual, and absolutely reliable for high performance are chosen. Plants that do not measure up to our expectations or too closely resemble varieties we already offer are eliminated.

Amaryllis in greenhouse
This year’s trials include almost 500 bulbs, some are brand new to us, others are classics and favorites that we retrial to monitor quality.

As the different varieties reach their peak blossom stage, the editorial staff gets involved, taking notes for copy. Editor Ann Travers and her team measure petal widths, blossom sizes, and stem heights. She records specific details about colors, patterns and growth habits. Our photo staff takes the images you later see in our catalogs and on our website. Amaryllis in full blossom are sometimes photographed in the greenhouse. Other times, they’re moved (very carefully!) to locations away from the farm. (Transporting them is no easy trick in winter, given the temperatures outside and the jostling they get in the vehicles transporting them.)

Amaryllis with numbers
This Amaryllis has no name yet!

Some of the new Amaryllis varieties arrive pre-christened with names provided by their growers. Varieties with no names are assigned numbers for the trial period. Later they’ll be named by our Dutch partners, or we’re given the fun job of choosing what to call them.

Bulbs selected during the trial process are not always available for the following year’s holiday catalog. If a bulb is a new introduction, it can take several years to grow a sufficient quantity to offer it widely.

Pressed to choose a favorite among all the Amaryllis she has ever trialed, our head gardener sums up the way most of us around here tend to feel: “The Amaryllis are all unique in their own special way, especially if you meet each variety in person as I’m fortunate to do each season,” she says. “Photos in the catalog can never quite capture the essence of each bloom . . . I love them all.”

Greenhouse full of blooming Amaryllis
Winning varieties will be offered to customers as soon as breeders can provide enough bulbs.