The amaryllis (Hippeastrum), with its trumpet-like flowers growing on tall green stalks, is one of the world's most widely cultivated bulb plants, according to the U.S. National Arboretum. Popular as winter holiday gifts, amaryllis bulbs are easy to grow and can bloom year after year with proper care. Gardeners who want to learn more about amaryllis history, cultivation and varieties--or just enjoy their beauty in photographs--can take advantage of several books.
"Hippeastrum: The Gardener's Amaryllis"
Author Veronica M. Read spent more than a decade studying amaryllis growth before sharing her findings and advice in "Hippeastrum: The Gardener's Amaryllis" (ISBN 978-0881926392). Her 296-page illustrated treatise covers the history of the amaryllis and discusses its many varieties, including hybrids and doubles. Read also writes about the plant's structure and development and gives gardeners advice on cultivation, propagation, pests and diseases. Britain's Royal Horticultural Society published the book in 2004 as part of its Plant Collector Guide series. The list price is $34.95.
For "Amaryllis" (ISBN 978-0609608814), photographer and gardener Starr Ockenga spent a year growing more than 90 varieties of amaryllis bulbs in her Hudson River Valley greenhouse. She photographed the bulbs as they grew and recorded her methods, observations and advice in this 96-page book. Publisher Clarkson Potter calls "Amaryllis" the "authoritative guide to the queen of flowering bulbs." Ockenga also adds a bibliography and a photo glossary of 96 amaryllis hybrids along with growing instructions. The book's list price is $20.
"A Flower Blooms"
Ken Robbins' "A Flower Blooms" (ISBN 978-0803707641) documents in words and photos the story of one amaryllis as it progresses from dormant bulb to fully blossomed flower. Publisher's Weekly says the "lyrical" text and "ravishing" hand-colored photographs make the 32-page book, published in 1990, suitable for all ages. Robbins also discusses how the plant continues to grow after it blooms and how the bulb can produce flowers in the future. A used copy of the book cost about $8 in 2010, according to Amazon.com.
Katherine Whiteside and Richard Felber give gardeners a thorough primer on amaryllis and other bulbs in "Forcing, etc.: The Indoor Gardener's Guide to Bringing Bulbs, Branches and Houseplants into Bloom" (ISBN 978-0761115120). The 154-page book, published in 1999 by Workman Publishing, offers a chapter on forcing amaryllis bulbs, both in soil and water, and advises gardeners on how to store bulbs and bring them out of dormancy.