Amaryllis or Hippeastrum blooming in January

Apparently the bulbs we buy to grow indoors in the winter – commonly sold and labelled as Amaryllis are actually Hippeastrum! Hippeastrum are a genus of about 90 species and 600 varieties. They have very large bulbs, wide green stems and generally red or purple blooms – but mine are white. I was excited to see white Hippeastrum just before Christmas – so I grabbed one.

Just before Christmas, Hippeastrum are widely available for sale in little cardboard box kits containing a plastic pot, some peat moss and a single bulb. They seem silly dried out things, but one of these dormant bulbs, planted just after Christmas, and watered just a little will grow within 2 weeks to a single stalk with multiple flowers. Now that it is post Christmas, these pots can be picked up for a fraction of the price, if you can still find them – and enjoyed now. Hippeastrum grows easily in pots indoors, or outside in warmer areas. They cannot have frost, and to re-bloom need a 2 month period of dormancy in a cool, dry, dark place (like my basement). When planted, they do well if in a small pot – with 1/3 of the bulb above the earth. They need some watering as they sprout and prepare to bloom, but should not be over-watered as the bulb may rot.

White Hippeastrum Close-up

Hippeastrum, are a winter treat with a big flower, for very little effort.

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