Hippeastrum are popular gifts at Christmas. They are often commonly known as amaryllis and, by following a few easy tips, these beautiful flowers will bloom year after year for you.
Botanical name Hippeastrum species and cultivars
Flowering time Winter to spring
Planting time October to January
Height & spread 25-90cm (10in-3ft) by 30cm (12in)
Aspect Bright, filtered light
Difficulty Moderately easy
Hippeastrum is a tender bulb and needs to be planted in a pot indoors.
Bulbs should flower about six to eight weeks after planting, and should be planted from October to January.
Here’s how to plant your bulbs:
- Plant bulbs using John Innes No.2 or multipurpose compost into pots a little larger than the bulb itself. Two-thirds of the bulb should remain above the surface
- Place in a well-lit spot at 21°C (70°F)
- Water sparingly until the new leaves develop and then start watering regularly. Do not let the compost dry out, but avoid excess water collecting in the saucer
- Turn the pot regularly to prevent the flower stalk growing towards the light. Cultivars with large flowers should be staked
- When in flower, move the plant to a cooler place, about 15–18°C (60-65°F), to extend the flowering period
- After flowering, cut down spent flower spikes to the base, but keep the leaves growing on by careful watering and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser weekly
- Place the bulbs in their pots outside or in the greenhouse during the summer months, but shade them from scorching sunshine and water regularly
- In late September move the plants to a well-lit position and keep cooler at about 13°C (55°F) for eight to ten weeks. Stop feeding and reduce watering so that the plant becomes semi-dormant
- After this cool dormant period, cut the remaining old leaves to 10cm (4in) from the neck of the bulb. Replace the top 2.5-5cm (1-2in) of compost
- Commence growing as for planting of a new bulb
- In late September, withhold watering and let the plants gradually dry out. They may die back as a result. Cut to the base any spent flower spikes and yellowed leaves
- Keeping them in their pots, place the plants in a cool place, such as a greenhouse or garage (light is not necessary), for one to two months
- Start them back into growth by bringing them indoors into the light and resuming watering and feeding
Hippeastrums need re-potting every two or three years in January to March after flowering.
Hippeastrums can be propagated by seed or from bulb offsets.
Seed-raised hippeastrums can take up to six years to reach maturity and flower. They will also usually differ from the parent plant.
- Sow seed as fresh as possible in spring in free draining seed compost
- Maintain a temperature of 21°C (70°F)
- Start feeding with a general pot plant feed five to six weeks after germination, until September
- Grow in individual small pots, potting on periodically during the spring and summer into slightly larger pots each time the pot becomes well filled with roots
- Keep the plants growing actively in moderate warmth and do not induce dormancy (do not drop the temperature as for inducing flowering)
Propagation by offsets will produce a flowering bulb in three to four years, which will be identical to the parent plant.
- Separate offsets from the main bulb when repotting (January to March). Look out for offsets with their own roots
- Pot up in individual pots in a free-draining compost
- Keep at a temperature of 21°C (70°F), feed in same way as potted seedlings and don’t induce dormancy
Indoor amaryllis are very popular in the run up to Christmas with many colour forms available. Here are but a few;
- Hippeastrum papilio AGM – unusual white flowers with deep red streaks and touches of green
- H. 'Belinda' – deep crimson flowers
- H. 'Bestseller' – cerise pink flowers
- H. 'Red Lion' – strong red-flowered form
- H. 'Star of Holland' – red with white markings
- H. 'Lady Jane' – semi-double salmon pink blooms
Failure to flower can be due to drying off bulbs too early, growing in excessively shady conditions, or under-watering during the previous summer.
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