Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

The magnificent flowers of this giant bulb bloom in March and April, but like the Hyacinths and Narcissi, it can be bought treated to flower in January or February. Whether a normal or early-flowering specimen, the subsequent treatment is the same: it should be potted into a soil-containing compost without fertilizer, using a 12- or 15-cm (5- or 6-in) diameter pot-i.e., a pot not much larger than the bulb – with a cane at the side. Only half the bulb should be buried. Potting can start in December and initially temperature should be about 16°C (60°F).

No water should be given until the leaves start to appear; then there will be enough root growth to the water so that it does not stand in the compost and possibly cause rotting. The flower will appear at the end of January or some time in February, and if the plant is kept cooler, will last longer. Weekly liquid feeding should start after flowering has finished and should be continued until the leaves begin to yellow and die down.

After flowering Hippeastrums should remain under cover until May when they can go into a frame until August. Then they can either be left in their pots or removed and cleaned of roots, loose scales and old compost; either way they are kept completely dry until repotting in December. They should be removed from the frame when frost becomes a possibility and brought into a greenhouse or into the home.