Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Latest Hippeastrum in the World?


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?

9 comments:

  1. It is a beautiful bloom, yes. The pink is perfect for March/April.

    It is usual to see amaryllis blooming in gardens here in May. Forcing them for Christmas is popular as well, and then the bulb is planted outside in spring, skips that spring bloom and blooms the next year. I think you have to be in zones 8b and warmer to leave them outside.

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  2. Wow that's a good'un. But...mine is later! I reckon mine will be flowering in 7-10 days time. It's one that flowered last year and I ignored it until about a month ago. I wasn't really expecting it to flower, I was just pleased it was still alive, so I am giving it some feed and being a bit nicer to it this time round.

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  3. I thought mine was late coming into bloom a couple of weeks ago :) Yours is a beauty. Mine are too - two deep plain red ones, both with two flower heads but they were supposed to be cybisters so somewhat disappointed. I feel a complaint to the garden centre where I bought them form might be forthcoming.

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  4. Goodness me, I have several in the greenhouse where, in usual Lazy Trollop way they are ignored & have just begun shooting. Do I win the prize?

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  5. I planted mine as usual in November but they are flowering now. Last year they were planted the same time and flowered in early January. I can only assume that the cold weather held them back. I keep my bulbs from year to year, if the summer is nice I will put them outside but the last two years I have kept them indoors, cutting the leaves off in September. Has anyone tried the hardy ones I see advertised? Though I am not sure I would want them in the garden, especially in May they wouldn't look right.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

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  6. My tatty bulb bought in a pot (with an incredibly stunted flower) in the post Christmas sales has flowered again. They are incredible bulbs - I don't know why I was so snobby about them before!

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  7. This is one of the few over-the-top blooms I really like.

    I'd planned to grow one this year but the shop I went to had run out and I didn't persevere.

    Next year!

    Esther

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  8. Looks like Lu and Ms B are competing for the latest Hippeastrum prize :)

    Nell Jean - good point about forced bulbs. I thought that's what they did to get them to flower for us at Christmas, so wasn't sure if mine would bloom. However, I have managed to get one from a friend gifted to me one Christmas to repeat flower each Christmas, so perhaps forcing isn't needed. The link to care on the RHS site seems to suggest this is so.

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