by Ray Allen
When winter arrives and the holidays loom, the big beautiful indoor lilies take the spotlight. Just add water, and you have a fantastic big lily inside while the snow flies outside. They're a gardener's winter delight, and always will be. However, these flowers are in a permanent state of botanical confusion due to their common name: Sorry, amaryllis is not really their name. The name is Hippeastrum, and they're tropicals that are native to Latin America and the Caribbean. The real "Amaryllis" is the Belladonna lily, native to the channel islands between England and France.
This is similar to what's happened to geraniums. We all know the big red windowbox flowers are really not geraniums at all (Botanically, those are pelargoniums). Real geraniums are the small hardy perennials that come in magenta, blue and white.
Of course, that's not going to stop anybody from calling their plants what they like. The red windowbox flowers will probably always be called "Geraniums", and the big indoor winter-blooming lilies will probably always be "Amaryllis."
Whatever you call them, we have lots of "Amaryllis" bulbs and growing kits right now.
So take a look, and send some to friends and family at sale savings. You can tell your gift recipients you're sending them a Hippeastrum. Ho. Ho. Ho.