Q When is the best time to buy hippeastrum (amaryllis) bulbs?
A Late autumn is the time to buy hippeastrum. It is important to select the healthiest and largest bulbs possible, as these will give the best display. From a bulb with a circumference of 26cm-28cm you can expect a single flower stem – two if you're lucky – whereas a bulb measuring 32cm-34cm or more may produce up to four. And depending on the variety, you can anticipate between three and eight flowers per stem.
Caption: Hippeastrum produce dramatic large flowers
Q When should I plant hippeastrum?
If planted during in late autumn or winter, hippeastrum bulbs normally sprout within days, but then tend to struggle to grow well because of the low light levels at that time of year. It's best to keep the bulbs in a frost-free place after buying and plant in February when the emergence of foliage coincides with increasing day length.
Q How should I plant hippeastrum?
A When planting hippeastrum, ensure that the top two-thirds of the bulb sit proud of the compost, and use a pot that is deep, but only 2.5cm wider than the bulb itself. To promote healthy growth, hippeastrum require well-aerated and free-draining compost. Given room temperatures, the smaller-flowered forms, which are often the quickest growing, can be in full flower within as little as three weeks. Large hybrids and doubles are slower, taking between eight and nine weeks to open.
Caption: Plant hippeastrum bulbs in February
Q How should I water hippeastrums?
A Hippeastrum are easily overwatered, which will cause the bulbs to rot. To prevent this, always irrigate from above using tepid water. Avoid getting the nose of the bulb wet, and never allow your plant to stand in water. As a precaution, allow the top 2cm of compost to dry out before watering again.
Q Should I feed hippeastrums?
A In order to maintain their vigour and produce such massive flowers, hippeastrum require regular feeding. As soon as the new shoot emerges, start feeding your plant each week with a balanced liquid fertiliser, and give it as much light as possible. Once flowering has finished, continue to to water and feed the plant well.