Am I late to the party? No, I just planted you late. If you grow or have grown Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) then I may have some hints and tips for you.
Fashionably late as ever and just in time for the close of London Fashion Week, my gorgeous Hippeastrum 'Snow Queen' has decided that it would finally grace us with its presence. Blooming on a 2ft (60cm) flower spike and growing in an old terracotta pot sat on my hall console table, this really is a welcome sight when coming in from the cold on a wet and wintery day.
This beautiful bulb is often forced to produce blooms around Christmas time. I always think it sad that once the plant has finished flowering many of these bulbs are discarded in the general waste or composted never to bloom again. In fact these bulbs will grow for many years, flowering year after year if cared for correctly.
The easy part is starting your bulb off. When you have bought the bulb, plant it in a suitable pot, a pot a little bigger than the widest part of the bulb is fine. You then choose a suitable planting media, general compost or bulb fibre is fine, and then all that's left to do is water it.
But what do you do once it has finished flowering? My advice is don't throw it away. Just continue to care for it as a typical house plant. It may not be the prettiest of plants at this point but it will pay for itself in blooms the following year. Once the flowers have faded completely, cut off the flower stem, much like deadheading any other garden bulb. You will now be left with the plant leaves and it is important that you continue to water regularly taking care not to water log the bulb. Plants should be fed every 2-3 weeks, just as you would any other house plant.
The key to success is timing. July is the month in which we get ruthless. Well not really, we just want to reproduce a period of dormancy. Stop watering the plant and allow it to dry out completely. Move the pot to a cool place, such as a garage or shed, and forget about it until October. My advice to you would be to add a reminder in your diary, 'phone or calendar, telling you that your Hippeastrum is still lurking somewhere and needs bringing back to life. It's so easy to forget these things.
When bringing your plant back in from it's slumber it is a good idea to check its general health. Trim off any dead top growth, remove it from the pot ensuring that the roots are not damaged and look over the bulb for signs of rot or pest damage. If everything is fine you can repot the bulb in compost or bulb fibre, just as you did the first time, and away you go. This will lead on to another period of Christmas flowering and save you from having to buy new bulbs year after year.
If you follow these instructions your beautiful and graceful Hippeastrum should grow strong for many years to come. If you're anything like me though you will continue to buy more bulbs each year and end up with a house full.
Did you find this post useful? Do you have any other hints or tips?