This year at the RHS Great Autumn Show in London I decided to purchase some really massive hippeastrum bulbs. They always remind me of my mother’s wonderful hippeastrum collection that she flowered every year. So I head off annually either to bulb specialists or garden centres to purchase these great packages of future delight. Bulbs of any sort offer deferred pleasure to gardeners, but these seem so celebratory and luxurious, that they trump all others for indoor winter blooms. Hippeastrum flowers open on tall – up to 45cm – fleshy stems. Individual buds are large, bursting with four further flower buds per stem. There are around 600 hybrids and cultivars and they come in a wide range of colour combinations or are a single colour.
Whatever the colour they provide rich velvety blooms over a long period. The foliage appears once the flowering is over. This year I bought three bulbs of Hippeastrum ‘Luna’ from Pheasant Acre Plants at the show. They were huge and heavy but I got them home and then once they were planted, they shot off like sky-rockets. I got nerdy again and started counting stems and then buds… well one of the bulbs has produced four stems and the other two are neck and neck with three stems each. It has become a forest of wonderful light green blooms.
You can usually buy hippeastrum from garden centres and supermarkets at this time of year in gift bulb packs and they are a perfect pack – compost, pot and the bulb all in the box. I potted my three bulbs up, setting them in the pots so that the necks of the bulbs are above the surface of the compost. Labels are important – always write the name of the seed sown or planted on a label… it is so easy to forget.