An indoor plant with big, glamorous flowers is just what’s needed at this time of year to brighten things up, and Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) are perfect for this.
Properly called Hippeastrum, but also known as Amaryllis, they’re available at most supermarkets at this time of year with either red, white or peach coloured flowers, but there’s a much wider choice of colours if you buy them from nurseries, Papillio has elegant, red streaked flowers and Black Pearl is a deep, sultry maroon.
What you ‘ll need:
- A plant pot and a saucer: the flowers are large and the plant can become top-heavy, so choose a reasonably heavy pot with drainage holes in the base. Chuck the plastic one that may be supplied, they’re usually too light and the plant won’t stay upright when it produces those sumptuous flowers.
- Clean shingle or small pebbles for the base
- A 50:50 mix of John Innes No 2 compost and multi purpose compost.
How to grow Hippeastrum:
Sit the bulb on a glass of lukewarm water so that the roots are in the water but the bulb isn’t, leave it for a couple of hours or so to let the roots plump up. This way it’ll get a head start on growing.
Meanwhile, cover the base of the pot with the shingle.
Add a layer of compost, place the bulb on top and continue adding compost, firming it in place as you go.
The bulb needs to have the top third sticking out of the soil, so you may have to adjust the soil level to get this right.
Water it enough to make the soil damp but not soaking, too much water will rot the bulb.
Move it to a light sunny spot 70 F/21C away from direct heat like a radiator.
Water a little if the soil dries out, the plant will lean towards the light, so rotate the pot to keep the stem nice and straight.
When it’s finished flowering, snip the flower stalk off, but keep the leaves in place so it can build up energy for next year.
It can live outside during the summer, but bring it back inside in September, the leaves will eventually wither and die back. Keep the soil dry until November while it has a rest, then start the process all over again.
They’re available from these nurseries:
images: Jill Anderson