How to plant, care for and grow Hippeastrum
|Name derived from||The name was meant to mean “Knight’s Star”. In Greek, hippe means horse and aster means star.|
|Common name||Amaryllis, Christmas flower|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun and semi-shade.|
|Flower Colours||Range from pure white to soft rose, pink, magenta, salmon, orange, red, mahogany and red-and-white stripes.|
Hippeastrum is a true bulb. There are roughly 86 species which originated in central and South America. The red amaryllis is extremely popular in Europe and many households will have at least one during the December holiday season. In South Africa, the plants do really well in the garden thanks to the warmer climate. They are pot friendly and this is how Europeans and Americans prefer the plant due to their regions cooler temperatures.
Seasons and planting
Hippeastrum can do well in many different soils including heavy loam soils and light sand. When planting, loosen the soil to roughly 30cm. Plant it with the roots hanging into the soil and remove all air spaces between and around them. When planting, ensure that the bulbs neck is above the soil and that there is 10cm spacing between the bulbs.
Water Hippeastrum after planting, then let the roots settle for about 10 days. After the 10 days, water the plant once every three to four days and ensure that the bulbs are always moist. If the plant is potted and you are using a saucer, tip over the saucer to get rid of the excess water half an hour after watering. The lowest temperature that this plant can tolerate is 5°C.
Hippeastrum should be fed Hadeco Bulb Food until March and should be watered until April. Watering the plant must stop in May. Bulbs can either be lifted or remain in the garden. As the plant enters dormancy the flowers will begin to fade. You can gently remove them from the plant but ensure that there is no damage caused to the stem as this is needed for photosynthesis.
The plant can be propagated from offsets, basal cutting, twin scaling methods and pollination. The offsets are ready to be planted when they can easily be removed from the bulb with your thumb. Pollination through self-crossing (applying the pollen from a plant to its own stigma) could lead to undesirable traits. Seedlings will flower in their first or second season.