Scarlet Globe

The Hippeastrum, commonly called Amaryllis, produces large colourful showy flowers on tall stems during winter, and is popular around Christmas and the new year. It needs to be grown where there is plenty of light so that the stems do not become too leggy.

The bulbs can be bought online under the name of Amaryllis in the UK from these garden centers.

To grow the bulb, select the size of pot to allow a gap 10 to 25 mm or 1/2 to 1 inch, 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, as shown in the photo below right. 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 foilage. 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 enegy 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.

Potting up the Bulb

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 degres C 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 dorment period, late summer to autumn.

To re-pot the plant, spread newspapers over a table or floor. 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 or 1/2 inch 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.

The bulbs can be bought online under the name of Amaryllis in the UK from these garden centers.

Book on Hippeastrum or Amaryllis bulbs for sale
The book Hippeastrum, the gardener's Amaryllis by Veronica Read is a complete in-depth guide to growing Hippeastrums, commonly called the Amaryllis . The book describes the cultivation, storage, propagation, hybridization, pests and diseases as well as the history of the bulb and plant. There is also a photo gallery of nearly 100 varieties of photographs taken by the author. Buy the book at Amazon, click  here for UK  or  here for USA.

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