Once you receive your order, open the exterior carton and interior boxes to give the bulbs air ventilation. Gently inspect the bulbs. The healthy outer skin of Amaryllis bulbs may appear papery, shriveled or rust-brown from having been washed and dried after harvest. It’s all good, all natural. Bulbs are sized when they are harvested. They shrink naturally as they dry, and plump up again once potted and rehydrated. Each variety has a varied amount of existing roots.
Keep in mind that top size flowering bulbs are always smaller than top size Dutch Hippeastrum bulbs. They have been hybridized to create well-proportioned plants and large flowers from smaller bulbs (better crop yields and lower shipping charges for the boat ride half way around the world from South Africa). Bulb circumference size is measured around the widest girth of the bulb (not from left to right).
There is a wealth of conflicting information when it comes to the popular Amaryllis flower. Such confusion is what comes from letting gardeners talk among themselves without supervision.
So what is an amaryllis, really? What most people mean when they say Amaryllis is actually Hippeastrum. This is the botanical name for the various species and hybrids that fill the market around Christmas time. If you want to be botanically correct, call them Hippeastrum, otherwise continue to use Amaryllis.
Botanically speaking, the only amaryllis is Amaryllis Belladonna from South Africa. It is a beautiful flower hardy to zones 8+ and common in California. They are also called pink “Naked Ladies”. Occasionally the white form is available, and very rarely there is also a red form which resulted from hybrid crosses with Brunsvigia (another South African native bulb). Often you hear that Hippeastrum (every-day Amaryllis) are from South Africa. This is the result of confused information with Amaryllis Belladonna. Hippeastrum species originated from across Central and South America.
In the last 150 years, these species have been crossed into the beautiful hybrids you find today. In addition to these Genus (Amaryllis and Hippeastrum) there is a multitude of flowers which are part of the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae). These are typically beautiful, reliable, and pest resistant garden flowers. They include: Amaryllis, Hippeastrum, Crinum, Nerine, Zephyranthes (rain lilies), Habranthus, Lycoris (spider lilies), Narcissus (daffodils), Sternbergia, Clivia, Sprekelia, Hymenocallis, Cyrtanthus, Scadoxis, Galanthus (snow drops), Worsleya and more.