Monday, December 12, 2011

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) From Bulb to Bloom and Beyond

Photograph by Kelly Butts

Photograph by Paul Gellatly
Hippeastrum "Papillio"
We have all seen boxes of Amaryllis at our local grocery stores, ranging from $5.00 to about $15.00.  For many years I have given these as part of a Christmas present, and always managed to get myself one or two.  After all they are fairly foolproof!  Most people buy them, and treat them as disposable bulbs.  Choosing to toss them, over trying to keep the bulb for another year;  or attempting to grow them only to have little success in getting them to flower again.

Until this year,  I was vastly unaware of the selection, quality, and caliber of the bulbs that are available.  As nice as the typical red, pink, white Amaryllis are...  they are not spectacular.

Photograph by Paul Gellatly
Hippeastrum "Papillio"
A few weeks ago, I walked into work to find about 40 different varieties... this is dangerous for someone who likes 'unusual' and 'different' flowers and plants.  I managed to escape with only three.

Photograph by Paul Gellatly 'Chico'
I have planted them 7 to 10 days apart, in order to get an extended bloom time into the new year.  The first (Chico) has recently started flowering (pictured below) The second (Papillio) has bloomed and although disappointed in the length of time in bloom, and the flower count, it is still a beautiful specimen.  The 3rd (Showmaster) definitely lived up to its name and provided an amazing show of 8 flowers.  I would highly recommend looking for Showmaster.

Cybister Hippeastrum 'Chico'
Photograph By Paul Gellatly 'Chico'

After looking at how beautiful this flower is, I can't help but feel its not a disposable bulb.  There truly is no comparison with the unique almost orchid like flower of 'Chico'

One reason to hold onto these bulbs year to year is that as the bulb grows larger more flower stems will be produced.  I have heard of this particular variety with 4 or more flower stems, that is not something you're going to easily find for sale.

To grow a typical Amaryllis plant, and enjoy it year after year, is not as difficult as you may think.  After a flower stalk has finished, cut off the flowers (before they go to seed, as this will take energy away from the bulb as well as the remaining flowers).  Let the leaves continue to grow, treat it as you would any houseplant.  Water and fertilize it with houseplant fertilizer (I use Schulz 10-15-10) I have had success using the fertilizer half strength every time I water.
Photograph by Paul Gellatly 'Showmaster'

You can plant the bulb (in the pot) right into the garden at the end of May, or anyplace outdoors if you have a sheltered spot, or continue to grow it as a houseplant indoors. At the beginning of September cut back water given to the plant.  In October cut the leaves from the bulb, and put the bulb (pot and all) in a dry, dark, cool (but frost-free) location, leave it alone for a few months (just don't forget about it).  At the end of December or into January, remove the bulb from the pot, remove the dirt, and trim the old roots off the bulb.   Replant the bulb in new soil, and cross your fingers!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Paul,

    This is great. Finally, other people can share in your passion for horticulture. Teaching people through your own experiences how relatively simply it is to beautify ones space is the added bonus of this terrific blog.

    Thank you again for asking me to contribute to your blog. I look forward to sharing my love of photography, especially flowers. Your words - my photos.....surely, a great combination.

    Best of luck, Paul in all your current and future plans to make everybodies own corner of this great big planet prettier.

    Kind Regards,
    Angel W.