Amaryllis raises smiles in any year

The hippeastrum makes a present with a difference. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
The hippeastrum makes a present with a difference. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

No wonder the hippeastrum (Amaryllis) was flagged up as Plant Of The Month in December.

It’s so stylish and accommodating that you can decide when the lily-like flowers, set atop a tall stem, adorn your living space. The lady of the house potted one up in late December and it’s on course for blooming four weeks later.

This plant makes a present with a difference. Inside the box lies a creative practical activity: bulb, pot and compost.

The red variety was introduced circa 1800, but the whites, pinks, salmon, orange, green and bi-coloured types available today reflect the progress in breeding.

Go for the bigger, more expensive bulbs as more stems emerge from them. Also check there’s a green tip.

Plant the bulb firmly with the top half above compost level. After flowering, allow the stem(s) to die down as nutrients are re-absorbed. Withdraw watering and dry it off ready for storage in 5C to 10C.

Purchasing three hippeastrums and starting them off at monthly intervals is a sure way of putting smiles on faces in any year.