Amaryllis Challenge
by Jackson & Perkins
December 7, 2014

That's right—the holiday tradition just went viral.

Amaryllis' ability to grow incredibly quickly (sometimes gaining an inch a day or more!) has inspired many people to 'race' Amaryllis, like the charming story of a woman and her mother that each grow an Amaryllis every year, calling the front-runner "Zeno" (after their first winner) and their slow poke "Mincy" (after their first loser).

Sometimes whole offices even participate in Amaryllis races, showing off and giving out ribbons to the plants that grew the fastest or produced the most beautiful blooms. And now the latest trend is to compete with friends and family over instagram using #AmaryllisChallenge.

"Amaryllis are the perfect holiday flower," says Diane Reeder, Merchandise Manager for Jackson & Perkins. "The blooms are amazing, and their brilliance captures the magic of the season. In my own family I send Amaryllis to moms, sisters and sister-in-laws who live all across the country. We have a great time bragging about how our own Amaryllis are growing from week to week. The little children in the families especially like to measure the growth, as they seemingly grow 'overnight'. It has been a wonderful way to share the season with my family who live far away!"

The Daily Press argues that the Amaryllis is in the process of usurping the Poinsettia as a family holiday tradition. While Poinsettias are great for one season, Amaryllis are more impressive plants, and can come back year after year. Connie Nelson of the Star Tribune reports that, for more and more people, Amaryllis are becoming the standard for holiday beauty, which is reflected in the explosion of new Amaryllis varieties breeders have put out over the last 10 years.

Former Extension Horticulturist, Dr. Jerry Parsons, explains that what we call "Amaryllis" is actually a hybrid of Hippeastrum which was first introduced as a houseplant in 1799 and which has steadily grown in popularity to the point that it has become a Christmas tradition in a lot of households. This plant is so easy to grow and produces such large colorful flowers that it is a delightful gift, particularly for the middle of winter when little else will grow.

Most people cite Amaryllis' beauty as the main reason for its popularity, but the trend probably also has to do with the plant's tropical origin. Amaryllis performs well inside holiday homes because it is already adapted to relatively warm and dry conditions.

Another reason Amaryllis performs well as a gift plant is that it doesn't take months and months to grow before it is ready to bloom. Because Amaryllis bulbs already have a season of energy and nutrients stored in their tissues, they are ready to spring up and bloom relatively quickly, in just about 8 weeks.

For more information on Amaryllis, visit

Happy gardening!

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