Some plants are always associated with particular times of the year and hippeastrum, or amaryllis, is one of those definitely part of the Christmas scene!
These bulbs are easy to grow and spectacular in bloom but need about 10 weeks to perform so should be planted now.
The bigger the bulb the more likely it is you'll get more than one stem of flowers, so look out for large-sized specimens in garden centres.
They don’t need overpotting – a 15cm (6in) container will be ideal, using a multi-purpose compost. Trim off shrivelled and broken roots, leaving just the healthy ones.
Nestle the roots and base of the bulb in the compost and firm, leaving 60 per cent of the bulb exposed, and water in.
Place bulbs in good light, such as a windowsill, heated conservatory or greenhouse at a temperature of 21C (70F).
Keep the compost moist, but not wet, leaving bulbs to dry out between waterings.
The flower stalk will appear before the leaves so as it grows turn the plant so it doesn’t lean toward the light. You can also stake the stem.
Once blooms have formed move the plant to a cooler temperature of 15-18C (60-65F).
When the blooms have finished the leaves will appear and elongate. Allow the flower stem to yellow before removing it.
Keep plants moist and feed weekly.
Ones to try...
'Apple Blossom': Award-winning variety with large, pink-flushed petals and a green eye. H: 50cm (1¾ft).
'Christmas Gift': Sumptuous blooms with ruffled creamy petals and green eye. H: 40cm (1¼ft).
'Charisma': RHS AGM winner with distinctive red-edged, red-flushed blooms. H: 45cm (1½ft).
'Lemon and Lime': The cool colour vividly contrasts with the rich tones of Christmas. H: 45cm (1½ft).
Get the best from plants
- Trim off any shrivelled and broken roots before you start planting.
- Leave 60 per cent of the bulb exposed. Keep compost moist.
- Position plants in a cool spot (15-18C/60-65F) to prolong blooms.