Amaryllis (hippestrum), along with the poinsettia, is a flower that can usually be found everywhere during the winter season and stands out with its pointed petals and bright red color. Most people would describe the amaryllis as a low-maintenance plant but I would describe it as steadfast.
If you’re growing an amaryllis from a seed, it can take up to five years to produce its first radiant bloom. If you’re buying the softball-sized bulbs from the store, keep in mind that it took years for the ‘daughter’ bulb to be viable without the ‘mother’ bulb. Though these plants take years to grow and flower, they also can live for as long as 75 years. This plant will bloom for you again and again, and it asks for almost nothing in return as long as the grower has the patience to wait for the blooms.
This may be why the myth that surrounds this flower is so important. In Ancient Greece, there was a story of a shy peasant girl named Amaryllis who fell in love with a cold-hearted shepherd named Alteo who only cared about flowers. Alteo was said to have the strength of Hercules and the beauty of Apollo, and every girl in the village was vying for his affection. Alteo stated that the only way to win his heart was to bring him a flower he had never seen before.
Amaryllis, desperate for his affection, went to see the Oracle of Delphi who told her that if she pierced her heart every night with a golden arrow outside of Alteo’s home, then her wish would be granted. Amaryllis returned to the village and, once night fell, went to Alteo’s door and pierced her heart with the golden arrow. Though her blood was spilt on his door step, nothing happened the first night. So, Amaryllis returned to Alteo’s doorstep night after night and pierced her heart to prove her love.
After thirty nights, a beautiful flower bloomed out of the blood pooled on Alteo’s doorstep. In her joy, Amaryllis plucked the flower and knocked on Alteo’s door and presented him with this bright red flower. Upon seeing the presented flower, Alteo fell in love with both Amaryllis and the flower. The flower would later be named after the girl who had spilt blood so that the flower could bloom. The flower was called amaryllis.
The tale about how this flower came to be speaks to the steadfast nature of the amaryllis plant. They need little more than sunlight and a bit of water to bloom, much like Amaryllis’ love for Alteo. Beauty can bloom in any conditions as long as a steadfast heart is present.