A group of tender bulbous perennials, with large impressive trumpet-shaped flowers. Most species are only suitable for growing in pots as houseplants or in a warm greenhouse. Except for H. pratense, which can be grown outside.
Botanical Name: Hippeastrum (hi-pee-as-trum)
Common Names: Amaryllis, Equestrian Star
Foliage: Broad, fleshy, strap-like, green leaves.
Flowers: Large showy trumpet shaped flowers on thick stems. Available in a wide range of bright colours. Often fragrant.
Flowering Period: Winter or spring.
Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun. Plant in a south, east or west facing aspect, in a sheltered location.
Habit: Upright, tufted.
Type: Bulbous perennial.
Origin: South America
Hardiness: Tender in the UK. Protect from frost.
Toxicity: Can cause stomach upset if ingested. Wear gloves and wash hands after handling.
Hippeastrum pratense is suitable for a sunny border or in the rock garden in warmer regions. Plant out in October and protect over winter with a mulch of straw.
Other Hippeastrum species can be planted in 5in (12cm) pots in February, using a good quality peat free compost and grown on in a warm greenhouse or conservatory. Keep moist and in a sunny position.
Prefers a rich heavy loam.
Water well and give liquid feed once buds appear. Keep plants dry once flowering has finished. Re-pot indoor plants every three or four years.
Susceptible to attack from various fungal diseases. Can be affected by bulb pests such as scale mite or narcissus fly.
Increase by planting offsets.
Bulbs are usually available for sale from November to March. Popularly boxed as a Christmas gift, they are often sold under the common name Amaryllis.
Hippeastrum is a popular winter-flowering houseplant with tall stems and big, bold flowers. Cultivars include:
Hippeastrum pratense is a semi-hardy variety suitable for growing outdoors in a warm sunny border but the flowers are much less impressive.