Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Hippeastrums (aka Amaryllis) tend to be associated with Christmas in this country: various potted possibilities are usually on sale around November time, which means they'll be in bloom at the end of December and continue to brighten the January gloom. They're the ideal gift for a garden or plant lover starved of gardening activities or flowers around that time.
Mine came into bloom yesterday. Regular readers know I'm pretty poor at planting my bulbs out at the given time and it looks like I might have gone down that road in a spectacular way. However, my giant Hippeastrum 'Vera' bulb wasn't purchased in November: Threadspider and I bought ours in the January sales from our local garden centre - reduced to £1.49 from £6.99 - a bargain. They were also giving out free eco-friendly shopping bags to garden club members that month, so it was only natural to use mine to bring all my other purchases home.
Having emptied the bag of everything but my very large new bulb, I then left it in there to fester in our hall for a month. A surprise burst of tidying up then bought it to light again when I put the bag away. So I didn't get round to planting it until the beginning of February, where it then sulked and did nothing for the next month or so.
Two weeks ago the tiny suspicion of a green shoot appeared. Hippeastrums grow at a very fast rate once they've started and as you can see I now have a spectacular flower forming the centrepiece on my kitchen table. Two flowering stems have been produced, so it'll be there for a while yet. Is anyone else reminded of The Day of the Triffids when they see these flowers?
Somehow by flowering against the odds and at a less commonly seen time of the year, this plant has become endeared to me. Not so the accompanying label. Does anyone else get annoyed with these? By trying to create something universally understandable, the bulb producers have come up with something of little use at all. I believe the pictured information is wrong (which the link above confirms) as the bulb should protrude from the top of the compost, not be buried in it. However, I also think it's telling me my Hippeastrum might not be the latest in the world and that my planting time was quite sensible after all. Will anyone be planting theirs to flower in May I wonder?