May 22 2013 Latest news:
Martyn Davey, Head of Horticulture and Design, Easton College
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Question: We have an Amaryllis which was given to my wife for Christmas 2010. When it finished flowering, I cut off the dead flower and the wilted stem. I left in its pot and put it outside in the garden behind some shrubs and thought no more of it. Imagine my surprise when I found it last summer in flower again with two beautiful red flowers. Is this normal? (JE Carter, King’s Lynn )
Hippeastrum bulbs are popular gifts at Christmas. They are often commonly, but incorrectly, known as amaryllis. By following a few easy tips, these showy, beautiful flowers will bloom year after year for you.
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.
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 21C. 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 15–18C, to extend the flowering period.
After flowering, grow the bulb on 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 13C 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 from the neck of the bulb. Replace the top 2.5-5cm of compost. Commence growing as for planting of a new bulb.
Alternatively in late September, withhold watering and let the plants gradually dry out. 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 more commonly from bulb offsets. The flower should not be allowed to set seed so growing from seed is more difficult if you want the bulb to continue to flower regularly.
Amaryllis are quite problem-free although should they fail to flower this can be due to drying off bulbs too early, growing in excessively shady conditions, or under-watering during the previous summer.