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Waxed amaryllis, a holiday curiosity

At the Gloucester Master Gardener Holiday Party, fellow Master Gardener Kay Williamson showed us a gift she had received from a friend—a waxed amaryllis. The bulb resembled a round, shiny, red tomato or a wheel of Gouda cheese. Kay told us that the wax coating contains sufficient moisture and nutrients to allow the bulb to produce the familiar strap-like leaves and bloom in all its winter glory.

Most of us are familiar with the exotic amaryllis, a favorite bulb for indoor winter forcing. The Brazilian natives develop into big, showy, red, pink, white, yellow, and salmon-colored blooms. There are striped cultivars, double blooms, and flowers with contrasting edges. Miniature varieties are available, too.

In fact, the bulb we call amaryllis is really a cultivar of the Brazilian native Hippeastrum. The true Amaryllis, also known as belladonna lily, is a South African native. It is neither a member of the belladonna nor the lily families. To ease some of the confusion, both Hippeast...

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