Growing Amaryllis

The Hippeastrum, commonly called Amaryllis, produces large colourful showy flowers on tall stems during winter and is popular around Christmas and New Year.

It needs to be grown where there is plenty of light, so that the stems do not become too leggy. To grow a bulb, select the size of pot to allow a gap 10 to 25 mm (1/2″ to 1″) gap between the edge of the bulb and the rim of the pot.

Select a soil-based compost, for example John Innes No 2. Partly fill the pot with compost. Position the bulb, then fill it with compost. It is best not to bury the bulbs. Fill the pot with compost to half the depth of the bulb, leaving the other half exposed. This will ensure that the bulb does not rot if it is over-watered.

When the bulb flowers it may need a short stake to support the stem and keep it upright under the weight of the flowers. After flowering, the bulbs will produce plenty of foliage. If the foliage is attractive, the plant can be left where it is, otherwise it can be removed to the greenhouse to store up the sun’s energy, to form a sturdy bulb to flower next year. Make sure the position is not out of the way, because the bulb will need sunlight, regular watering and feeding with a balanced liquid feed throughout the summer. When the leaves start to turn brown and die down, gradually stop watering and allow the plant a resting period, but still keep the bulbs in a warm place.

Remember they come from a tropical climate, so a minimum winter temperature of 10 degrees centigrade is advisable. The bulbs will show signs of their approaching rest period in late summer and autumn. Leaves will limp and slowly die back. No new leaves will be produced. At this time, watering the plant must be stopped and the plants allowed to dry out.

By giving the plant a liquid feed during its period of leaf growth, it may not be necessary to re-pot the plant for two or three years, with at the most, a top dressing in spring. However, after three years it is best to change the soil. Re-potting should be carried out in the dormant period, late summer to autumn.

To re-pot the plant, turn the pot upside-down and carefully tap out its contents. With the plant removed, carefully separate the earth from the bulb’s roots. Remove all the old dried roots together with stale compost. The bulb will most likely need a larger pot. Hold the bulb over the pot and start filling it with fresh John Innes No. 2 compost, spreading the new roots amongst the compost. Plant the bulb so that the top of the bulb is exposed as before. The top of the compost should be at least 10 mm (1/2″) from the top of the rim. Firm the earth around the plant and water. If the plant is a named variety, label the plant and return it to its growing area and await new growth and flowers in time for Christmas. Good luck!

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