Amaryllis - Hippeastrum

Amaryllis - Hippeastrum

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The amaryllis, or Hippeastrum, are among the most showy and colored bulbous; their flowers are very large, generally in shades of red, they are also available in white or pink. These are bulbous plants originating from South America and South Africa and there is only one species of these plants, the Amaryllis belladonna. Generally in the nursery the hybrids of Hippeastrum are widespread, some also with particular flowers with thin and curled petals.
These flowers have different colors due to the availability of numerous variants and are easily cultivated.


The amaryllis are easy to cultivate, they need a soft and well-drained soil, and in general they are repotted every 2-3 years, avoiding to put them in excessively large containers, since they seem to bloom more easily if they develop in small pots.
Flowering occurs in spring or early summer and it is very easy to find forced specimens for winter flowering on the market. Some Hippeastrum cultivars, on the other hand, bloom in late spring-early summer and this wide variety of blooms allows those who love this genus to often have flowering plants at different times of the year.

Family, genus, species Amaryllidaceae, hippeastrum, about 80 species, countless horticultural hybrids
Common name Amaryllis
Area of ​​origin South America: Ecuador, Perщ, Brazil
Type of plant Bulbosa flower, lively
Flower color Pink, red, yellow
Height at maturity Up to 1 meter
Culture simple
Exposure Sun, half-shade
Ground Rich, but well-drained
soil pH Neutral to sub-alkaline
Growth Slow to medium
Rusticitа From medium rustic to delicate
Propagation Division, sowing
use Vase, full ground

Crop care

The amaryllis is a plant of tropical origin, therefore in general they are cultivated in apartments in pots; in fact they can withstand short frosts of slight entity, so in the south of our peninsula they can find a place outdoors, in the open ground; while in the central south the vases can be kept on the terrace or in the garden in a sheltered place. The plants of amaryllis they prefer well-lit locations, or even sunny ones and need regular watering from March to October; after the foliage is dried the bulb enters a period of vegetative rest, during which it is sufficient to slightly moisten the soil every 25-30 days. During the vegetative period we supply small doses of fertilizer for flowering plants, mixed with the water of the waterings. With watering we do not exaggerate because water stagnation and excessive watering suffers.

And if it doesn't bloom anymore

As it happens for other bulbous plants that are forced to winter flowering also for the amaryllis It is easy to get large flowers for the first growing season, after which it is difficult to see other flowers. This happens because it is necessary for the bulb to have the right nutrition, a period of foliage development, and therefore a period of at least a few weeks of vegetative rest. the vegetative rest should take place in autumn and winter; therefore towards September-October we let the foliage dry up, and we thin out the waterings; then we remove the dried leaves and place the vase in a cool place, even a cellar can be fine, or an area of ​​the house not heated; in this way we will simulate the winter. In spring we bring the vase back to a bright and warm area, so as to favor the development of the foliage and therefore of the flowers.
Instead, plants grown outdoors seem to be able to bloom every year; if flowering does not take place it is probably a problem of lack of nourishment: remember to provide fertilizer for flowering plants during the whole vegetative season, to allow the bulb to store sufficient nutrients to produce a good flowering the following year

Where to grow the amaryllis

The hippeastrum is considered a vase bulb. In fact, almost all species and cultivars are sensitive to low temperatures and need to be withdrawn or, at the most, extracted from the ground during the bad season. However, it must be emphasized that at specialized retailers, selected varieties are available to withstand even several degrees below zero. Cultivation in the open ground, without the need for winter removal, therefore becomes feasible in the Center-South and also in the North, especially in coastal areas or in the lakes region.

Cultivation in the open ground of the Amaryllis

The hippeastrum they can be an element of great impact if placed in mixed borders, in combination with shrubs, herbaceous plants or other bulbous plants. To keep them long it is important to be scrupulous at the time of planting.
- At the beginning of spring (or even in autumn, in the South), we carefully prepare the substrate, working it in depth. We incorporate a good amount of manure.
- If it is too compact and poorly drained, we create a gravel-based layer in depth. It will also be essential to add a good quantity of river sand to the compote.
- Insert the bulbs at a depth of about 15 cm, leaving the apex slightly out. In one square meter we can insert from 6 to 9 specimens.
- We initially negotiate and then only in the event of prolonged drought.
- At the end of flowering we distribute a liquid fertilizer with a high content of phosphorus and potassium every 15 days.

Pot cultivation

Pot cultivation is very simple. To get good results let's remember to provide a container at least 30 cm deep, but with a maximum diameter of 4 cm wider than the bulb. This will help us to achieve beautiful blooms and to avoid the onset of rot.
We create a draining layer on the bottom with gravel or expanded clay. We fill the bulb and fill it with a mixture of soil for flowering plants and sand, in equal measure.
We fertilize twice a month with a product rich in phosphorus and potassium, especially after the end of flowering. We irrigate only when the substrate is dry in depth.

Crop care

- To keep ours for a long time hippeastrum It is important to eliminate the flowers when they are withered. We will then wait for the complete drying of leaves and stem, which will then be cut at the base.
- Potted plants should be left as undisturbed as possible: repottings and divisions can only be done every 3-5 years.
- The most widespread varieties are sensitive to cold: they must therefore be withdrawn towards the beginning of November. Let's keep them in a room that is not too heated and in partial shade. In any case, let us remember that to obtain beautiful blooms in spring and summer it will be necessary to expose them for a few weeks at relatively low temperatures (5 to 10 ° C), little light, completely interrupting the irrigation.
- If we live in the North we extract the bulbs in the open ground, let them dry in an airy and shaded area and store them in a dark and not humid place. We will put them back in the soil in spring
- In the Center-South it is possible to leave the specimens on the ground, especially if they are of less sensitive varieties. In any case, it is a good idea to create a thick mulching layer based on leaves or straw.

Multiplication of the amaryllis

The simplest method for obtaining new plants is the division of the lateral cloves. Sowing is also possible, but it takes many years to see the flowering. Furthermore, the results are often disappointing both in color and size.
You can proceed with bulbs of at least 5 years. They are extracted after the end of flowering and the lateral cloves are detached. These will be placed in small jars and will have to be treated with assiduous fertilizations with a high phosphorus content. The first blooms will be seen in about 3 years.

Amaryllis - Hippeastrum: Variety and choice of bulbs

The moment of choice is crucial for the success of the crop. Let's make sure that the bulb is intact, without scratches, scratches or the beginning of rot. We also confirm that the roots are as intact and consistent as possible.
Other criteria to consider are the rusticity of the single variety, the color and shape of the flower (single or double) and the dimensions it can reach.
Among the most rustic varieties we recommend the hippeastrum Sonatini (Alaska, Veneto, Balentino) and the hybrids H. x johnsonii.
The species are found only at specialized retailers.
The hippeastrums commonly sold are not very rustic cultivars and it is good to avoid exposing them to temperatures below 5 ° C. They are characterized by large flowers, simple or double, more or less trumpet-shaped. The most common color is red, but white, pink and orange are also common; more rare, but yellow. Here are some of the most widespread:
- Apple blossom: yellow and white throat, pink edges
- Clown: pink-streaked tepals
- Mont Blanc: white with green throat
- Minerva: white with red edges
- Red scarlet red lion
- Aphrodite: double white
- Pasadena: double red
- La Paz: upper red tepals, lower green, pointed.
- Lemon Star: yellow flower.
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Natural cycle

Planting March-April / October (South) November
Flowering Late spring-late summer winter
Pruning-cleaning October-November March
division Pink, red, yellow
sowing March