After my rant yesterday, and before the next one, something more pleasant. There are few better ways than coping with winter than a good stock of hippeastrums, more often called amaryllis. Lots of you will have these in bloom now because they are popular Christmas gifts, sold and given in colourful boxes, sometimes with snaking flower stems already growing in their dark coffins even thought they have not been planted or watered.
The cruelty to hippeastrums does not end there though because even if they are then potted and given a chance to grow they are usually put in a dark place and, as the stems reach for the light, they are supported with a combination of knitting needles and wool and then canes as they fight against gravity to stay up. And then the final indignity, as the flowers fade and the stem and emerging leaves are cut off and the plant ‘put away’ till next year.
To get a repeat performance you must allow the plant to grow through spring and summer to ‘feed up’ the bulbs for the next year. So for the next six months at least you need to water and feed and get that bulb in good condition for the next spring. With care there is no reason why your hippeastrum should not flower every year and get better over the years.
This beauty is ‘Black Pearl’. Apparently this is an unregistered name and the bulbs sold as ‘Black Pearl’ can be one of several dark red cvs such as ‘Red Pearl’ or ‘Benfica’. In fact it looks exactly like ‘Benfica’ and is somewhat darker than it appears in these photos. The flowers are not over large but the tepals are broad and have a few tepaloids at the base that give the flower a really full effect. The bulb, being good size, is giving three scapes and the first has four blooms.