A Winter Bulb that Brings Colour for Christmas
16th October, 2008
by Bob Willard, General Manager of de Jager Bulbs
The Royal Dutch Amaryllis, or the Hippeastrum, bulb makes a super Christmas present. It is very easy to grow and very willing to give a repeat performance year after year. Although often bought as a Christmas present people forget to buy one for themselves and watch it spring to life over the dreary winter months.
Hailing from the South American tropics, Amaryllis have come a long way to delight us with their large exotic blooms. It’s because of these origins that they revel in our warm living rooms, but unlike so many other flowering pot plants they never seem to mind the hot dry atmosphere caused by central heating. They are a perfect pot plant for the home.
Amaryllis can be planted indoors any time from October through to March and flowers from Christmas into May.
Bulbs of the many available hybrids can be forced into flower within 6-8 weeks after planting, and by utilising ‘specially prepared’ bulbs and ordinary bulbs in succession planting every fortnight anyone can have Hippeastrum in bloom indoors from Christmas into May.
Pot up the large bulbs singly as soon as purchased in clean 6 inch (15cm) pots, or larger. A potting mixture of three parts good loam and one part well-decayed manure with a handful of silver sand and a pinch of bone meal is suitable but John Innes Potting Compost No. 3 or its equivalent may be used. Place broken crocks at the bottom of the pot to help drainage. Make a cone moist of compost and place the bulb on top of it, carefully working additional compost over the prolific long roots. Then firm the compost around the bulb to finish an inch below the rim of the pot. The top third to top half of the bulb should remain exposed.
After it has flowered
When your Hippeastrum has finished flowering, don’t just throw it away-there’s plenty of life left in it. In fact, with a little care there is no reason why your bulb will not bloom for many years to come. The important thing to remember is that the next batch of leaves and flowers are formed within the bulb after it has flowered so all you can do for it now will pay dividends next season.
When the flowers fade, cut them off but leave the main stem. This should be allowed to die back gradually.
Feed the bulb well over the next couple of months. A good quality liquid feed is ideal and an application of high potash fertiliser will help flower and bud formation deep within the bulb.
As the foliage begins to turn yellow allow the bulb to dry off gradually so that all goodness in the leaves goes into the bulbs.
Come planting time in the new season, remove the bulb from the old compost and pot it up as you would a new bulb.
Amaryllis bulbs are available now from De Jager Bulbs HERE, they have also kindly agreed to send FIVE lucky winners a Liberty Amaryllis Hippeastrum bulb. (RRP. £11.50), you can enter the competition for a bulb on our win page HERE.
Amaryllis 'Liberty' Credit: De Jager