Amaryllis or Hippeastrum?The correct Latin name for the Amaryllis is actually Hippeastrum. The original amaryllis (belladonna) was in fact a totally different bulbous plant from South Africa. The Hippeastrum we know as amaryllis originated in the (sub) tropical regions of South America.
Amaryllis, the giant among bulbsWith bulbs of 25-30 cm across, amaryllis is rightly named the giant among bulbs. The hollow flower stems on an amaryllis can reach up to 60 cm high and depending on the variety of amaryllis, the flowers can be 10-20 cm across. The number of flowers per stem depends on the variety. Bakker.com has both single and double flowered amaryllis. Colours and petal shape can also vary. The colours can range from - yellow, green, orange, red and pink to white.
Planting Amaryllis bulbsAs amaryllis is very frost sensitive, for our climate they are only suitable for indoors. The amaryllis bulb can be planted from October through to April. Most amaryllis bulbs take between 2-3 weeks before the leaves show and then flowers within 6 to 8 weeks. If you want a flowering amaryllis in the house for Christmas, you should plant one up in October.
- Choose a nice large flower pot that is at least 8 cm wider than the amaryllis bulb itself
- Add a layer of clay pellets and then some potting compost
- Plant the amaryllis bulb leaving 1/3 of the bulb protruding above soil level
- Add more potting compost as necessary
- Water the amaryllis sparingly – do not pour water onto the bulb
- Stand the flower pot in a nice warm, light spot indoors
Caring for your AmaryllisWater your amaryllis bulb immediately after potting it up – just not on the bulb. After planting it shouldn’t need watering again until the first greenery appears from the flower bulb. Only water then if the potting compost is really dry. This is because amaryllis bulbs are not able to absorb much water during this period and if it gets too wet, it can rot. Do not give your amaryllis bulb extra plant food for flowering bulbs during the growing season.
There are some amaryllis bulbs that produce really tall stems that tend to snap under the weight of the flowers. You can support a stem that is growing too tall with a bamboo stick and a piece of string. Turn the pot with your amaryllis every day to prevent the stem from bending towards the sun. An amaryllis can be kept in the garden or on the patio/decking from May on but do protect it from a bright afternoon sun.
After flowering is over, cut the flower stem back to 5 cm above the bulb and keep the bulb indoors in a sunny spot. Feed weekly after flowering with a mineral fertiliser in the water to allow the bulb to store up energy for the dormant period. From the end of August, your amaryllis bulb will not require watering anymore water and the leaves will totally wither and die.
Keeping your Amaryllis for next yearPotted amaryllis bulbs produce more flowers than those grown in the garden. This is because the bulb does not waste any energy when forming new roots. This is why many amaryllis varieties can quite happily remain in the same pot, year upon year.
We do advise that you remove your amaryllis from its pot annually, to give it a good once over, and to refresh the potting compost. Store the bulbs for at least 6 weeks in subdued light and where the temperature is between 7 and 16º C. As soon as it starts to shoot again, stand it in a sunny windowsill and water sparingly.
For more tips on planting and caring for amaryllis bulbs, take a look at our gardening advice pages online.
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