Hippeastrum (commonly known as amaryllis) provide the biggest, boldest flowers of winter, and can even be bought preforced so that they bloom in time for the Christmas holidays. For such exotic looking blooms, their needs are simple: a nice tight pot, water, light, and a short rest in late summer is all they require.
When to plant: Autumn.
At their best: Winter.
Time to complete: A few hours during the year.
You will need: 1 Hippeastrum bulb, basin, multi-purpose soil, container, balanced liquid fertilizer.
Soak the bulb roots in a basin of lukewarm water for a few hours. This will soften them and encourage the bulb to come into growth again.
Plant in container
Choose a pot, just larger than the bulb itself, that has a drainage hole. Fill the base with soil, place the bulb on top, and add more soil. Leave the top third of the bulb protruding.
Leave to shoot
Water the bulb well to help settle the soil, then place the pot in a bright, warm spot at about 70°F (21°C). Water sparingly until new leaves develop; then water regularly, keeping it moist.
Turn the pot frequently to prevent the flower stalk growing to one side. Move the plant to a cool spot when it starts flowering, to prolong the display. Feed weekly after flowering.
Tips: Repotting bulbs
Hippeastrum go into dormancy at the end of summer. If yours doesn’t, stop watering and feeding it, and cut back the leaves to encourage it to do so. Repot into a slightly larger pot. After several weeks, when new growth appears, resume watering.
Hippeastrum are excellent festive plants, and offer an equally vibrant alternative to the traditional poinsettias. They usually flower in shades of red and white, but some have orange, salmon, and even green-tinted blooms. Their large trumpetshaped flowers are often heavily patterned, and vary greatly in shape; some are broad and round, while others are slender and elegant.