Hippeastrum is a flower that is often confused with amaryllis. These are two different genera, united by the common Amaryllis family. In Russia, it is grown at home, being one of the undoubted leaders in the collections of brightly flowering indoor plants. The rules for planting and leaving the “knight’s star” have their own characteristics, like all bulbs with a winter dormant period. But in general, this is a completely viable indoor favorite, the lush flowering of which redeems all the troubles and worries, although it is very short.
General description with photo
Hippeastrum was brought to Europe from the tropical regions of Central and South America, has an ancient Greek origin of the name, the literal translation of which sounds like a cavalier of the star. The root system is represented by a large scaly bulb, reaching up to 20 cm and partially lying above the soil surface. The leaves are elongated, petiolate, belt-shaped, up to half a meter long. Immediately at the base form a dense sheet rosette. A powerful high (up to 1 m) peduncle is thrown out from the center of the outlet, on which 2-4 buds bloom, collected in an umbrella-shaped inflorescence. The perianths are broad, bell-like, with a wide range of colors from snow white, light pink and lemon yellow to bright red and burgundy. There are also variegated varieties. This houseplant can bloom at different times of the year, depending on the species.
The plant is poisonous, all its parts are toxic if ingested, so you can only work with it with gloves. Without close contact, the flower is completely harmless.
Popular views with photos
The species diversity of hippeastrums is very large, more than 70 varieties, which are further expanded by numerous varietal lines. Breeders breed varieties with larger inflorescences and unique colors and shapes that are not found in the wild, up to double and striped. They are usually combined into the concept of garden hippeastrum.
Usually gives two buds up to 18 cm in diameter and slightly shorter in length. The pharynx of the flower is greenish-white, with a rapid transition to red, and the edges of the petals are white. In the wild, it prefers rocky mountainous terrain; its homeland is the Andes in Peru.
Grows up to half a meter. First, at the end of winter or spring, a peduncle with two buds is thrown out. After that, belt-like leaves begin to grow, reaching 60 cm. Flower heads are large, up to 20 cm, each of which usually has 6 petals tapering to the edges of the form. There is a large palette of colors – pink, bright red, raspberry, yellow-orange, purple, light green. A distinctive feature is the spotted color of the petals (the same on both sides), thanks to which the species got its name.
A very spectacular variety of exotic comes from Brazil. It is especially large in size, in comfortable conditions it can grow up to a meter. The leaves have a peculiar gray-green color, their shape is usual belt-like. In addition to its spectacular appearance, it is valued for abundant, compared to other varieties, flowering, it can simultaneously throw out up to 4 buds on one peduncle. The flower has a light green wide pharynx, the color of which gradually changes to white with red stripes. The pointed edges of the petals are painted in a monochromatic scarlet color. Blooms in spring.
This variety grows mainly in Mexico. Leaf plates are linear in shape with a rounded end, narrow and long. Each peduncle gives up to 4 star-shaped buds of a solid saturated color (brown, orange or bright red). Zev can be painted in the same way or in a soft light green shade.
This is a Brazilian variety of medium markings, notable for its amazing white and pink striped in the longitudinal direction of the color of the buds. Very delicate coloring is complemented by a very pleasant aroma. The center of the flower is light green.
Choice of bulb when buying
At specialized points of sale, ready-made hippeastrum bulbs are often sold. It is best to follow them in the spring – these are the best periods for planting and forcing. In extreme cases, landing can be done in the fall. Rule: the larger the bulb, the richer in nutrients it is, and if sellers convince you to buy small specimens “because they are young”, it is better not to listen to them. And the point is not even that the plant will turn out to be larger and healthier, it will be flowering with a guarantee!
The second moment on which it is necessary to stop attention is the neck and the bottom. They must be strong and not damaged. The upper scales should be dried and have a brown color. There should not be any red-brown spots, dents, seals or other deviations from the ideal shape. To the touch, a healthy bulb is firm and dense.
What if the bulb is sold not naked, but in a pot? Inspect the upper part, its size and condition, as mentioned above. Raise the pot and look through the hole where healthy white roots should be visible.
Features of planting and care at home
The complexity of growing this indoor flower is rated as average, since it is necessary to take into account a number of features that distinguish this culture from others. In particular, you need to keep in mind that:
- The most beautiful varieties, especially those that are light in color, are hybrids, so high-quality viable seeds cannot be obtained from them.
- It is very desirable to have a plot of land where the plant could be taken out for the summer.
- You need to be prepared for the fact that the whole complex of considerable efforts will be made for the sake of flowering, which will last only 10 days.
How to choose the right pot?
Hippeastrum is picky about the size of the pot, it should not be too spacious in it. The optimal distance from the bulb to the walls is 2 cm. with a thickness of the bulb itself of 5 cm, you need to pick up a pot with a diameter of no more than 9 cm. Light tightness stimulates flowering. At the same time, the pot should not be small. Despite the fact that the bulb itself will be half above the ground, we must not forget about the necessary drainage layer, which will also take up part of the space. In addition, the bulb gives numerous roots, for which you also need to leave a place.
There are no categorical requirements regarding the material of the container, but the best one will be the one that heats up less in the sun, because overheating of the bulb is highly undesirable. Ceramic would be a good choice. Due to the high growth of the flower, the pot must be stable!
The requirements are quite high, so you need to approach the choice of substrate informally. The main requirement is good aeration, lightness of the soil. Both moisture and air must pass easily and without delay, while the supply of air is no less important than water. Acidity is recommended within pH=6, soil fertility should also be high. The easiest way is to buy a ready-made soil mixture for bulbs and add a small amount of river sand to it. When preparing the substrate on your own, it is necessary to add high-moor peat, humus and sand to the clay-soddy soil.
Choosing a place for planting hippeastrum
The plant likes a lot of sun, but should be protected from direct sun exposure on a hot afternoon. If it is taken out on the street, then it can stand in an open place. Requirements for good light remain after it has faded. This is especially true in cases where there is a calculation for viable seeds.
In order to avoid skewing the flower arrow and the leaf rosette in one direction, it is recommended to turn the pot periodically, and do it more often during flowering.
Watering and humidity
The watering regime depends on the period. From spring to autumn, it should be plentiful, but it is advisable to wait until the earth dries out at least until the middle of the coma. In autumn, the amount of moisture gradually decreases and completely stops from the moment all the leaves fall off. Only very rare moisture remains to maintain the viability of the roots during wintering in a pot. But it should not be enough to awaken the plant and forcing the peduncle.
In the hot period, regular spraying is desirable, provided that water does not fall on the buds.
Temperature requirements are common for bulbs – warm content in the season and cold wintering. The bulb can be dug up and put away in the basement or in another dark and cold place. The ideal winter dormancy temperature is +10C.
The first dressing with a mineral complex should be applied to the hippeastrum after flowering. At this time, the accumulation of nutrients for next year’s flowering begins. The growing leaves serve the same purpose. Feeding is not needed during the dormant period. When transplanting, you can put 1-1.5 sticks of a special complex composition of prolonged action directly on the drainage layer.
Both vegetative and seed propagation is possible.
To obtain your own seed material, you need to wait for the seed pod to mature, providing it with heat, moisture and light. Ripened seeds are ready for sowing immediately after harvest. Further care is carried out as in conventional seedling cultivation.
The first year, like an ordinary onion, will go to the laying of the bulb, in the second year it can already throw out the peduncle. But in full force the plant will bloom only after 3-4 years.
The peculiarity of bulbous plants is the formation of daughter bulbs, which are excellent seeds, fully inheriting parental characteristics. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to wait for flowering the very next year after planting, or it will be weak, fictitious. The main condition for separation is to wait until the diameter of the baby reaches at least 2 cm.
The second vegetative propagation method is the division of the bulb itself, but not more than into 2 parts.
Both methods are applicable at the time of transplantation, when the plant is dug out of the soil.
How to plant an onion?
For proper planting of hippeastrum, the following requirements must be met:
- The arrangement of the drainage layer is mandatory.
- The bulb is placed vertically with the neck up and is not buried completely, but slightly above half the size.
- When planting, easily peeling scales are best removed, since they are already lifeless and may begin to rot when in contact with the soil.
In the year when transplantation is not carried out, it is still necessary to partially replace the soil, replacing the top layer with a more fertile one, since this plant has a very active process of nutrient absorption.
Transplantation of adult specimens is carried out with a complete replacement of the soil in the spring, after waiting 3-5 weeks after the end of flowering. It is not necessary to prune the roots, but to revise them with the removal of diseased and dried ones. Sprinkle all damage to the bulb, if any, with crushed coal. For group planting, the distance between adjacent specimens should be about 10 cm.
Do the child bulbs need to be harvested?
If they are very small, and there is a desire to multiply a copy in the future, the children can be left, trying not to damage them during transplantation. If the main goal is long and abundant flowering, it is better to remove them, since part of the plant’s strength will invariably be spent on their growth and development.
The more spacious the container, the faster the formation of daughter bulbs and the more scarce the flowering will be.
If the bulb is sick
If you see traces of rot or other obvious signs of illness on the bulb, you should try to remove the scales with a clean knife and carefully cut out the affected area. If it has not gone to a depth of more than 2-3 scales (they need to be removed over the entire surface), you can try to save the specimen. First, it is treated with any effective fungicide (Maxim is very good), then the tuber is placed to dry in a dark and cool place for 1-2 weeks. If after that it looks healthy and resilient, you can plant, completely replacing the soil.