Last autumn, in memory of my green-fingered late mother, I bought a batch of ‘exotic’ Hippeastrum bulbs and potted them up to give as Christmas presents to some of my friends. Now that they are flowering, there have been a number of discussions about how to care for the bulbs to encourage repeat flowering in years to come. Here then, are some pointers, and a very useful link:
The bulbs I bought were Hippeastrum ‘Merengue’ – one of the more specialist varieties – and you will find a vast range of cultivars on offer from the specialist bulb companies in the late summer. The plainer red, white, and speckled varieties are often on sale in superstores in the run up to Christmas and, at 5 a box (complete with pot & compost) are very good value for money. Potted up and brought on on a north or east-facing windowsill, they will usually flower after about 8 weeks.
The key for successful re-flowering is to a) replenish the bulb’s resources with regular feeding once the leaves appear and b) allow for a period of dormancy before the next flowering season.
My Hippeastrum care is always rather ad hoc, so I often have bulbs in various stages of leafy growth and dormancy throughout the year. Flowering though, when is happens, is always over the winter months.
It is common for ‘forced’ bulbs to refrain from flowering for a few subsequent years, and once they start back into growth you will get leafy growth rather than a flower bud appearing first.
If this happens, just look after them as you would any other houseplant, with feeding every 2 weeks or so, and once the bulb has recovered, you should then start to get annual flowers.
For more advice, check out this link to the RHS website.
Fabulous professional photograph of said Hippeastrum by one of the recipients – for more of Sylvia’s work check out the web link below