Arno KingHow to grow Hippeastrum

As I write, strange spears are appearing from the soil in many areas of my garden. In a week or two these spears will burst into heads of large stunning flowers. Hippeastrums are a favourite plant of the warm climate gardener, with large flowering hybrids being most popularly grown.

Photo by puuikibeach

The name Hippeastrum is Greek for ‘Knight Star’. These plants are sometimes referred to as Amaryllis by older gardeners, however this name is more correctly used for bulbs found in Southern Africa. Amaryllis generally prefer Mediterranean climates with dry summers, and thus do not prosper in summer rainfall areas.

Hippeastrums grow from large bulbs, 6 to 12 cm across which are rather like onions in appearance. 4 to 6 mid-green leaves are produced in two planes from each bulb. They are generally 30 to 90 cm long and 2.5 to 5 cm wide.

Each flower consists of 3 petals and 3 sepals, jointly referred to as tepals. They may be 12 to 25 cm across on stems 30 to 70 cm high. They come in shades of red, rose, pink, salmon, orange, cream, white and pale green. They may be a solid colour or have a paler centre; stripes; reticulations; and varied shadings of these colours. They may be single or double; wide spreading or trumpet shaped; broad or narrow petalled; and miniature or large. Small or narrow petalled flowers can often look superb in the garden although they are often overlooked for their showier cousins.

Hippeastrum with delicate tracery

The flowers tolerate the dry winds, heavy downpours, hot sun and rapidly rising temperatures. Spring in the tropics and subtropics is not the delicate mild season so typical in cooler climes. Instead, it is a tumultuous season and one of the most trying times for gardeners. Cool climate bulbs may flower (often for the first and last time) but may be burnt to a crisp by the heat or dry winds or bruised by hail or a spring storms. If the flower is damaged, there is another bud down below the flower, ready to take its place.

Hippeastrums do particularly well in areas with a summer dominant rainfall pattern, conditions which best suit their natural growth rhythms. They go into dormancy and defoliate during the dry winters and springs; flower in late spring just before the rains arrive; and the burst into leaf during the warm moist and humid summer and autumn months. Where I live in Queensland the bulbs come into flowers in late September and early October. As you drive around the suburbs, flowers can be spied in many front gardens. In older areas they form huge and spectacular clumps.

Hippeastrums thrive in a garden which has had little attention for many decades!

Hippeastrums are extremely hardy. I have seen large clumps in neglected gardens which cover many square metres and which have survived where many other plants, and the garden itself, have long disappeared. They thrive in full sun or light shade and in well drained soils. While plants will survive on virtually no rainfall for a year or two, they may not flower profusely. To encourage profuse flowering and growth, provide well mulched, organically enriched soils, and regular applications of fertilisers including ground rock minerals. Plants resent disturbance and will flower less profusely for a year or two following division or replanting.

Hippeastrum bulb photo by Teebeutel

Sourcing bulbs can be tricky. It is often easier to buy cold climate bulbs, than those that do well and thrive in warm climate. Each year dried bulbs are offered by garden centres and hardware stores. While many are beautiful, they may not be as vigorous as plants that have been grown in gardens for many years. Locating plants that grow well in your area is the best approach. Visit specialist nurseries and gardens during the flowering season and select plants based on appearance and vigour. Keep a look out, you may find friends or neighbours who have these plants growing in their gardens and will be happy to share them with you. The internet is also a great way to source bulbs which are readily sent in the mail while dormant.

Origins
The genus Hippeastrum has a broad distribution from Mexico, through Central America, the Caribbean and down through South America to Argentina. Brazil is the centre of distribution. The species are quite unique and often very different to the more popular hybrids with which most people are familiar. I am a great fan of species plants and always on the look-out for them. Some particular favourites of mine which I recommend include:

Hippeastrum papilio Photo by Clyde Robinson

Hippeastrum papilo – has pale greeny white flowers with deep red veins which emanate from the centre of each tepal. This spectacular plant is endangered in the wild and deserves more widespread cultivation. In the wild it grows as an epiphyte in remnants of the Atlantic Forest of South Brazil.

Hippeastrum petiolatum – is a small plant with orange –red flowers and narrow leaves. In the wild this plant also grows as an epiphyte.

Hippeastrum puniceum – was once widely seen in Queensland gardens, but sadly is not commonly encountered these days. It’s a very hardy, vigorous and free flowering plant. The large flowers are carried on long stems and are orange with broad cream stripes down the centre of each tepal.

Hippeastrum puniceum was once a garden favourite

Hippeastrum reticulatum – has velvety, deep green leaves with a central silver stripe. The plant could be grown for the leaves alone. The stunning pale pink flowers are reticulated with rose veining.

Hippeastrum striatum Photo Forest & Kim Starr

Hippeastrum striatum – is a small plant with orange flowers which have a cream centre. This plant produces numerous bulbils and readily forms a clump.

Propagation
Propagation is generally done by division. This is extremely easy. The plants grow virtually on top of the soil and the bulbs are large and visible. It is a simple matter to dig up these bulbs which readily separate. Division is best done during the winter to spring dormant season when the bulbs are leafless. When replanting, place bulbs at 300 to 500 mm centres. The widest part of the bulb is best located level with the surrounding soil.

Hippeastrum seeds

Plants may also be grown from seed which is readily produced. Following flowering, pods will set on the plants. After 4 to 5 weeks they yellow and start to split. Shake out the papery black seeds. Spread them on top of some sterilised potting media and keep moist in a shady location. Young seedlings will soon appear. They are grass-like at first, and soon require dividing and repotting, before hardening off and planting out in the garden. Plants grown from seed produce flowers which are variable in appearance.

Commercially, a form of propagation known as ‘cuttage’ is widely used. Bulbs are cut vertically in quarters, each with a portion of the basal plate (the plate at the base of the bulb from which the roots emerge). Apply fungicide to the cut surfaces and plant so that the cut side is facing upwards and 1/3 of the basal plate is planted in the potting media. Small plants will soon from along the basal plate.

Planting Design
Hippeastrum flowers can be large and dramatic – particularly as thet are borne whilst the plants are leafless. When mass planted or allowed to grow into large clumps the flowers will dominate the garden area. Gardeners can get inspiration on using these plants in the garden from the ways tulips are planted in cool climates. They can be mass planted to create a massive sward of colour against a green backdrop; peppered in groups through other flowering plants with harmonious or complementary colours; rhythmically planted along paths or roadways; as a specimen planting to terminate a vista or act as a focal point;

Hippeastrums planted on mass

Pure red or white Hippeastrum flowers can look dramatic against a green leaved backdrop. A gradation of pink flowers can add depth and interest to a planting. Consider developing a garden that reaches its peak at the time the Hippeastrum flowers. Complement bulbs with other flowering perennials and locate a table and chairs nearby. Now, throw a party against this backdrop – it will be memorable.

Grown in large pots and allowed to grow into large specimens, plants can be moved into prime spots in the garden when in full flower. Large shallow pots are particularly dramatic when used in displays. This is also a great ways to grow these plants in cooler areas, as the pots can be brought under shelter and kept warm and dry during the winter months.

Pests and Diseases
While Hippeastrums are hardy and generally pest free, like any plant, they do occasionally suffer from pest and diseases. Like most plants, this generally indicates suboptimal health – poor nutrition or an inappropriate location or microclimate. Before you reach for the fungicide and pesticide, look at ways to increase plant vigour by improving nutrition or relocating the plant to a better location.

Locusts will occasionally feed on leaves. A morning inspection of the garden when these insects are torpid allows you to readily catch them. Mealybugs can occasionally infest plants and reduce vigour. Ensuring plant nutritional needs are met, particularly calcium, magnesium, boron and silicon, can discourages both these pests. Apply these elements in a complete garden fertiliser.

Red Blotch (Stagospora curtisii) is a widespread foliar fungal infection. It shows up as sunken, elongated, reddish-orange areas which can deform leaves. It generally occurs early in the season when plants are shaded, cold and wet. It may only show up after an extremely wet and cold winter, but if it is a regular occurrence, the plants are best moved to a warmer, sunnier part of the garden and provided with improved nutrition. Foliar applications of fungicides may temporarily solve this problem, but can also drip down into the soil killing off valuable soil biology.

Hippeastrum ‘Temptation’

Hippeastrums are one of the showiest flowering bulbs in the world and thrive in warm climate gardens. These hardy bulbs require minimal maintenance, and continue to provide a floral display for many decades. With a little bit of thought they can be used a feature of the spring garden. Enjoy the floral displays in gardens in your area and then consider which colours and what planting locations will work best in your garden – then get planting and prepare for next year’s floral extravaganza.

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Arno King

About Arno King

Landscape architect, horticulturist, journalist and keen gardener, Arno is a regular contributor to Subtropical Gardening Magazine. Based in Brisbane, Arno grows a wide diversity of unusual plant species and has particular interests in growing edible plants in creative settings and biological and organic gardening. Brisbane, Queensland

60 thoughts on “How to grow Hippeastrum

  1. Thanks Arno. I was posting about my hippeastrums on my GardenGrapevine blog last week. They are spectacular, aren’t they? I have red and also a gorgeous variegated red/white. I appreciate your information re propogation and seeds and while I have several in pots, had not thought about putting them in shallow pots, as well.
    Thanks for the idea.
    My garden club is featuring hippeastrums in our monthly bench competition in mid October. My prayer is that mine will continue to flower until the meet . As they bloomed early this year, starting about two weeks ago, unsure if the flowers will last the distance. Fingers crossed.
    Julie

  2. Karen on said:

    Hi I was wondering if there is any where in Brisbane I can buy hippi bulbs from… I am after a hot pink bulb and a yellow bulb and a white with the red edges cheers Karen

  3. Norman Tate on said:

    I am a manager of a botanical gardens in the forest reserves in Jamaica. The location is in the Blue Mountains. I’ve been here since last year july and there are many different species of plants which were brought here from many different countries. We got hippes, amarylis, daylily among other pine trees. I aim to improve the grounds and would appreciate your imput and views. I liked your article

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Norman

      regarding the Hippeastrums in the botanical gardens, and improving the grounds, I would suggest 3 approaches:

      Cultural – ensuring the nutritional, biological and water requirements of your plants are met. This would include doing a soil test to identify nutrient deficiencies (if this is possible) and applying appropriate fertiliser during the growing season. I am a fan of biological or organic fertilisers as they encourage biological activity in the soil which enhances plant growth. I am also a fan of using plenty of organic matter both in the soil and as a mulch 50 to 75mm deep. In warm climates such as ours, it breaks down rapidly and requires regular replacement – but on the other hand, weeding is greatly reduced. I would also check the pH and if the soil is acidic (less than 6.5), add a dusting of lime.

      Design – regarding the planting, I would tend to plant many of the perennial species you mentioned in large drifts of the one plant. This may be achieved by regularly dividing and then replanting the plants you have together. The down side to this with Hippeastrums is that they will ‘sulk’ for a couple of years following this treatment. Best to divide a few clumps each year and not to touch others to as to maintain a flower show. When replanting, think about planting combinations. What plants flower together and what colours look good with one another? Plant these groupings together for maximum impact.

      Observation – gardening is about observation. Observe where each plant grows and flowers well. Perhaps you can move plants around so that they are each in the best place. In regards to Hippeastrums, many like to bake in the sun – but then some of the species (eg H. papilo) do best in some semi-shade. I find there are always some spots in any garden or park which are ‘difficult’ Learn where these are and plant your toughest plants there.

      Good luck with the Botanic Garden.

  4. David Walters on said:

    After decades of pest free hippeastrums my garden has suddenly been infested with a caterpillar which eats the leaves and bulb of the plant from the inside. The grubs grow to about 4cm in length, are black and white striped and destroy the plant. Every plant in the garden has been infested. Bulbs can contain up to a dozen large caterpillars. How do I combat these creatures?

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello David

      It sounds like you have had a visit from the Crinum Caterpillar – Brithys crini. Generally these pests stick to Crinum lilies, but occasionally they will appear on Cliveas or Hippeastrums. They can be very devastating to any of these bulbs. The only consolation is that they seem to prefer Crinums and are less common on the related bulbs.

      My only suggestion is to try and do a general survey around the garden each week during summer and early autumn and check your bulbs. The caterpillars can be readily spotted when young. There are large numbers of them and they assemble together on the leaves. they can be readily squashed. After a couple of weeks they get larger and head down into the bulb where they will do the most damage.

      Many people apply derris dust into the bulb and this seems to kill them. If you do use this product, cover up well and use a mask as it is very toxic stuff.

      While these caterpillar can destroy large plants, I find that they do not eat the bulb plate and that the bulbs will reshoot again in time. Obviously they will be smaller and less vigorous and flowers will be less freely produced.

      What I have noticed is that healthy, vigorous plants tend to be less bothered by this pest. I would ensure that your plants’ nutritional needs are met, particularly in the form of micronutrients. I prefer to use biological fertilisers with ground rock minerals. I would also recommend monthly feeding as a foliar application (half strength), combining a biological or an organic fertiliser with seaweed extract. Finally do a pH test (or take a soil sample to your local nursery) and if the soil is less than 7, apply some garden lime and dolomite lime together at the rate of 2 to 1, placing a handful per metre squared. Ideally do this before rain,m or water in following application. Calcium is essential to all plants and readily leached by heavy rain if organic levels in the soil are low. It is also essential to fungi which in turn have symbiotic relationships with plants and supply them with much of their nutritional needs.

      If your plants are becoming shaded or competing with vigorous plants or trees nearby, you may want to consider moving them to a more open sunny spot where they may grow more vigorously. I like to grow Hippeastrums with low herbaceous groundcovers so that the garden does not look bare when they die down. I use less vigorous species.

      Finally, consider planting aromatic plants around your bulbs to disguise their scent. This seems to work well with Crinums. Many ground covers are strongly scented. I have been using various low growing Plectranthus and Coleus and this seems to work.

      The good news is that this may be a ‘one off’ attack. Hopefully it won’t ever happen again.

      Arno

      • helen mccamley on said:

        Hi Arno, Yes, I too have been invaded by that dreaded grub, really did a lot of damage, but think I now have it under control. Did use Derris dust and now the plants are a healthier green. Looking forward to the flowering season. Helen (C.Q area)

        • Arno King on said:

          Hello Helen

          Great to hear you have got the grub under control. It is recommended you take care using derris dust and avoid breathing it in or getting it on your skin. I would also suggest focussing on plant nutrition next year as I find healthy plants seem to be much less affected. Note my comments above on Calcium and pH.

          Fingers crossed the grub does not return.

          Arno

  5. Kay on said:

    Hello Arno, I have just found your article and the great information it contains, thank you. The has been my first year with hippi’s and I am not sure whether I should have removed the old straps. The new straps and flower stalks are starting to appear but the old straps now look rather messy around the bulbs. Appreciate your help.

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Kay

      I’m glad to hear that my article has been helpful to you.

      In regards to tidying up the plants, I generally remove the old dried leaves, but leave the dried husks over the bulb. These protect the living tissue and minimise sun scald. In regards to plant health, the plants are probably just as happy if old leaves are left to compost over the bulbs – however old leaves can look messy in the garden, so can be removed once they have turned brown and dry. At this stage, they come away readily from the bulbs .

      We had a great show of flowers this year in Brisbane – probably due to the dry weather. I have also been amazed how drought hardy these bulbs are.

      Once your bulbs have flowered ensure you give them a good feed and provide some supplementary watering if the ground is dry.

      I wish you every success with your Hippeastrums

      Arno

      • Kay on said:

        Thank you Arno for your reply. I had a wonderful display, and the flowers were just beautiful. They have finished now so i will take your advice and give them a good feed. I use chook poo and blood and bone is this sufficient? I have mulched with sugar cane straw to help with moisture control as the area is very dry. Last year I also got flowers in January, is it normal to get a second flush? Many thanks Kay

        • Arno King on said:

          Hello Kay

          Regarding fertilising, I know many gardeners who have had great success using the combination of chook manure and blood and bone you have noted. I would also be inclined to back this up with a balanced organic or biological fertiliser containing ground rock minerals to ensure that the plants are provided with essential trace elements.

          In regards to the second flush of flowers, I have often had a few clumps produce a few summer flowers in my own garden. It seems to be most common on established clumps, which have their nutritional needs met and after there has been a good growing season.

          I hope your plants bring you many years of joy.

          Arno

  6. Narelle E on said:

    I find sprinkling down into the crown of the plants with Lawn Grub granules gets rid of those nasty grubs that invade the leaves – you can see them through the leaf as they “suck” all the goodness out. Don’t forget to water in well after application.

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Narelle

      thanks for your suggestion to use lawn grub granules.

      I would check to see what is the active ingredient is in the granules you use. Many granules use Chloropyrifos which is noted as being moderately toxic to humans, with continuous exposure being linked to neurological, development, and autoimmune disorders. Take care when using pesticides and always wear protective clothing and a mask. Do not use pesticides if pregnant or around children and pets.

      It is also important to consider the impacts of pesticides on the soil biology. The healthy bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other life in the soil are essential to our plants’ uptake of minerals, water and sustained vigour.

      Regards

      Arno

  7. Travy on said:

    Hi, my hippies don’t seem to flower well in Cairns, like they didn’t on the Atherton tablelands. I’m not sure what is going on. I transplanted them out of the garden and they have been in pots now for 3 mths as I was worried maybe not enough sun in the other area. I’ve always used blood n bone, organic extra, but no luck, this year I did use Nitrophoska blue in January. Any suggestions please. Thanks 🙂

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Travy

      Hippeastrums are sun worshippers. My best flowering plants have sun all day long. They will flower with sun for part of the day, but not as prolifically.

      Hippeastrums also resent disturbance. When you transplant them, flower buds are often aborted. Moving them from the Atherton Tablelands and then again into pots may be the reason you are not getting flowers.

      Another issue may be your fertilising regime. Nitrophoska Blue is quite high in Nitrogen and Potassium and low in Phosphous (NPK 12-3.5-13.3) and this may have encouraged leaf growth at the expense of flowers.

      My recommendations are: Plant your hippeastrums in a sunny area of the garden (if you have one) as they will probably do better in the cool deep soils. Purchase a fertiliser recommended for flowering plants. I would recommend using a biological or organic product which will support good biological activity in the soil. I would also check for products that contain ground rock minerals (rock dusts) as they will last much longer in the soil and be better value for money. The heavy rain in Cairns leaches soluble fertilisers readily.

      With luck your Hippeastrums will be in full flower in a year or two.

      Arno

  8. margrette young on said:

    dear arno
    thanks for your advice.
    query 1 – i have some hippies planted in the ground which have been left undisturbed for ages and now are a large crowded mass of bulbs. do they mind being really crowded? ie is it better to divide them?
    a second query – these crowded bulbs have lots of leaves and they have not flowered this year yet, even though my single hippies in pots have flowered. the crowded bulbs are shaded now because other things have grown and reduce the direct sun. will they flower if shaded (far north coast NSW)?
    finally 3rd query – to divide them, can i just cut off bulbs around the outside or is that too vicious and if so, what’s the proper way to divide?
    thanks so much

    • Ano King on said:

      Hello Margrette

      Great to hear from another Hippeastrum grower. I’ve just been in my garden and noted all the flower buds shooting up from my plants. It will be a bumper year for flowers!

      Some of the best flower displays I have seen have been from bulbs which have been left undisturbed for years. Not to far from where I live is an old uninhabited homestead with a mass of Hippeastrum out front. These have been left undisturbed for over half a century and are spectacular when in flower.

      However there is a point when plants get so dense that they do not flower at their peak. When divided, bulbs will often sulk and not flower profusely for a year or two. I think the happy median is to divide bulbs every 5 to 10 years. I would suggest only dividing a third of your plants when you divide and hence you will always have some plants which will put on a spectacular show in the garden.

      I find that Hippeastrums worship sun and are not as free flowering when there is any shade. I also find plants flower best when they are planted among low non-competitive plants that provide some protection to the bulbs but allow the leaves to benefit from as much sun as possible. I suspect your non-flowering plants need to be relocated to a sunnier position.

      I would divide bulbs with care. They are slow to build up in numbers so the effort is worth it. I would dig up the entire clump and gently divide up the bulbs. They should fall apart readily. Whether they are planted back into the same location, or into a new location, you need to prepare the soil. This involves digging the area over and working in compost and a biological or organic fertiliser. Plant the bulbs so only half the bulb is buried, and mulch the area. Water well if replanting is undertaken during the warmer months.

      Good luck with your bulbs. I am sure you will be rewarded with lots of flowers in years to come.

      Arno

      • margrette young on said:

        thank you very much for your advice. looks like i’ll have to move them to a sunny spot. a pity they’ll sulk after being moved – one would think they should be pleased. should i wait until after summer to move them when they are dormant?

        • Arno King on said:

          Help Margrette

          I would suggest doing the dividing when the plants are dormant. They will have less of a shock and be more likely to flower at an earlier date.

          Arno

  9. Ingrid koppers on said:

    Hi Arno,
    I’d appreciate a little advice on a Hippie Papillo. I planted 3 bulbs in a pot sized about 40cm diameter 4 years ago. Only one bulb has ever flowered during the first 2 years. Last year none flowered and this year only 1 bulb again has flowered. There has been plenty of multiplication, the pot is in a sunny spot, the foliage always looks sad to me despite the fact is nice and green. I have always fertilised with Thrive alternating with Seasol, nothing during the autumn, winter months. I know the Papillo is evergreen and not the same as other Hippies but I seem to be doing something wrong. I hope you can help me, I’d hate to kill these plants, the flowers are so beautiful and unique.
    Regards,
    Ingrid

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Ingrid

      I grow Hippeastrum papillo as well and find it is less profuse in its flowering than the hybrid Hippeastrums. There are generally only 2 to 3 flowers per bulb and sometimes a bulb will miss a season. It is best therefore to have a few clumps to ensure there are plenty of flowers each year.

      Having said this, I suspect one issue could be your fertiliser regime. Thrive is high in nitrogen (N:25 P:5 K: 8.8) and thus great for growing foliage plants or leafy vegetables. To encourage flowering, I would use a fertiliser where the NPK ratios are very similar to one another. I would also ensure that the fertiliser contained trace elements. Finally, being naturally an epiphyte in the wild, with symbiotic relationships with fungi, I would be using a biological or organic fertiliser.

      The papilo plants that I see thriving in gardens are always in bright semi-shade and not full sun, so I suspect you would be best to relocate your plant where it does not receive strong mid day or afternoon sun – perhaps under a light foliaged tree or palm.

      Good luck

      Arno

  10. Mark Jordan on said:

    I have hippeastrum in garden red & white, orange, red & black, pink and yellow. Some of the hipps are being eaten – the flower heads before they open or bloom. The leaves are ok look healthy. I have 2 cats so there is no rabbits or rodents. I do have snails, but leaves are ok. Don’t see any grubs. Hope someone can help. Much appreciated thankyou.
    Mark n s w Wyong.

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Mark

      this year I had the flowers of my plants ‘attacked’. In my case it was Bush Turkeys. They have never done this before and it may be due to recent dry weather. They didn’t seem to eat them, just peck at them and pull them off the plant.

      If you do not have Bush Turkeys (yet), it could be some other bird.

      Regards

      Arno

  11. Susan on said:

    Hi Arno, I am in Darwin and have lots of Hippeastrum puniceum id like to send to someone in Sydney. Do you know if they will grow there? The common, larger red ones do well there but not sure about this. Thank you

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Susan

      I have seen Hippeastrum puniceum in flower in many Sydney gardens, so I can verify that it thrives there. I suspect that the plant may have been originally introduced into Australia via Sydney.

      • Susan on said:

        Thank you so much 🙂

  12. Di Rayner on said:

    Thanks for excellent info but do I de head them when flower is spent to get more flowers this season

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Di

      yes, I would suggest deheading flowers as soon as they have withered. You may not get more flowers this season but this should help improve next season’s flower production.

      Arno

      Arno

  13. Dana Skelton on said:

    Hi, a am a new grower of hippeastrums. The bulbs were moved from a one garden to another…many miles apart. They have not flowered, bar 3 bulbs. The plants looked healthy and green but NO flowers. It is the move? Do I now just cut them down to bulb level and then wait until next year?. Any advise please.
    Thank you
    Dana

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Dana

      Hippeastrums generally sulk when you move or split them. You must be patient! It might take one or two years, but if you provide them with good growing conditions, as noted above, they will flower. Once they start flowering, you will have more and more flowers each year.

      Healthy green leaves are good. Leaves photosynthesise and produce sugars needed for growth and flower production. Don’t cut them down or you will wait even longer for your flowers!

      Now is the growing season, so while the leaves are green, water during dry periods and feed as noted above.

      I’m sure you will have flowers next October and even more the following year.

      Arno

      • dana Skelton on said:

        Thanks Arno, for your comments. I have unfortunately cut them so I guess it is back to the drawing board, and wait, patiently.

  14. Chris on said:

    Hi, i have purchased a young Hippeastrum about 2 yrs old, and i am trying to harden it off because the moment it gets a lick of sun, it starts to wilt. I have been trying to do so for about 2 weeks now and it just keeps wilting the moment the hot summer sun hits it. Am i doing something wrong? is it the bulb? is it me? I am worried if i keep trying i am going to kill it off. Others have advised me to literally chop off all the leaves and the bulb will throw new ones and if they are kept outside the new ones will be sun hardened? Do you have any advice/experience with this kind of thing? I am in Brisbane QLD.

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Chris

      Yes I have lots of experience with this.

      We have been having very warm, dry, sunny weather recently so this is not the time to harden off plants. I would suggest waiting until March and placing your plant in a bright semi-shaded location until then. Usually the rains would have arrived by now and the cloud cover and moisture would have reduced the intensity of sun.

      The long term weather forecast is for a wet March, April and May in Brisbane. As soon as the rain arrives you can plant out your Hippeastrum and it should thrive.

      I have made a number of small shade cloth tents, which I erect over newly planted plants and this provides added protection for the first month and helps plants establish rapidly.

      Regards

      Arno

      • Chris on said:

        Thanks so much for your reply Arno, awesome advice <3

  15. FAY MCC on said:

    Hi,
    I have a small number of special hippie plants, all look well, but they seem to have some form of aphid mould on them, what can I spray on them.
    thanks Fay

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Fay

      I have found Hippeastrums to be relatively pest free, except where they are not growing in ideal conditions. My suggestions are therefore to look at growing conditions first. Are the plants in a sunny location? are they in good soil and well mulched? Do you feed them regularly with a balanced fertiliser (preferably organic or biological and containing ground rock minerals? Do you water during extended dry periods?

      If you do have aphids, scale or mealy bug, I find these generally disappear when the plants grow vigorously. I try to minimise spraying as we often get collateral damage (the good insects and predators). If things are desperate I use good quality Neem oil (such as the OCP).

      Good luck with your plants. I hope you have a great show of flowers next October!

      Arno

  16. Nola Nelson on said:

    Hi, I have inherited a garden full of Hippie plants (just bought the house); unfortunately I did not have the previous owner to ask about the garden. I have had four beautiful stalks of flowers in March, but now I seem to have many of the long leaves rotting and becoming very straggly. There are probably around 60 or 80 bulbs planted but the whole display is looking very sad. I am very new to this plant and would like to know if I should cut the rotting leaves or just leave. There don’t seem to be any pests visiting. Help. I live on the Central Coast NSW. Nola

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Nola

      what a bonus to get 60 to 80 hippeastrums with the house. Mass plantings of hippeastrums are spectacular when in flower so I’m sure you will have a great flower display next October. Maybe you should plan a party for the event!

      Regarding straggly leaves, this could be due to the dry weather we have been having and general neglect while the house was being sold. Hippeastrums will die down when the ground starts to dry and usually this is over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. It is best to remove only the dead leaves and leave the yellowing leaves on the plant. Nutrients in the leaves are being absorbed back into the bulb, and if you can be patient, you will get a better flower display by letting the leaves wither naturally. Remember it only occurs once a year for a brief period.

      I suspect your plants will benefit from some mulching and a good feed once the weather starts warming in September, and recommendations on fertiliser are noted above.

      The plants might also benefit from digging and replanting in well prepared beds. I would do this in spring, just as the plants start to grow and only take a few bulbs from the edge. As noted above Hippeastrums resent disturbance and sulk by stopping their flowering for a few years. If you replant a few bulbs each year you can enjoy the undisturbed plants flowering and also have a few new plants establishing which will put on an even better show in a few years time.

      It will be interesting to see what colour the flowers will be when they flower next year.

      Arno

  17. Helen on said:

    My hippeastrum plant is looking sad it’s cold and wet it’s only flowered once that was last summer should I bring it inside for the winter???

    • Chris Davis on said:

      This time of year is when some Hippeastrums go dormant. In QLD where I live, i find most of mine are evergreen, although the leaves do yellow slightly on some, I leave them on so they can continue to gather energy and leave them outside. You can lift and store them if you want, I just find they are fairly hardy and do tend to keep well in soil outside even if they completely die off and sleep over winter, they will burst to life as it starts to warm up again. Just do not wet them too much (if at all) while they are sleeping. Most of mine started to throw new leaves about 2 weeks ago, as the old ones started to yellow, which i thought was a bit of a bonus, and most are thriving and looking really nice and healthy even though they should be going to sleep. I tend to feed them a bit, they have good composted soil but i only water them once a week if that while the colder weather is around, and I give them a half dose of good liquid fertilizer every second week. I find if you keep lifting them for winter it throws their cycle off a bit, I find they do not like being moved as much as people tend to. The only time I lift mine is when the clumps need to be broken up and the bulbs separated. It really depends on where you are as to how well they will fair during the colder months.

    • Arno King on said:

      Hello Helen

      where in Australia do you live? In most areas (with the exception of the southern and highland areas), hippeastrums do well outside in a sunny location with amended soil.

      I agree with Chris that lifting plants unnecessarily is not good and impacts on growth and flowering. Hippeastrums resent disturbance. I find that when I divide and replant the bulbs they do not flower as prolifically the first couple of years. I would advise you to grow plants either in the ground, or in pots in cooler areas (where they can be grown outside over the warmer months and brought under cover in the cooler months).

      Hippeastrums generally only flower once a year in late spring (although I sometimes get a few flowers in late summer on very established clumps). They often look a little straggly this time of year and I guess this is true of all bulbs. I always plant my hippeastrums among less vigorous ground covers so the straggly leaves are not so prominent. As Chris has said, in Queensland, Hippeastrums tend to be almost evergreen and dieback and leaf loss is more related to dryness than cold.

      Arno

  18. Paul on said:

    Howdy Arno

    Snails, slugs and earwigs seem to be my a perennial problem with Hippeastrums when I’ve tried them, and finally the bulbs have rotted. Seems I have to use a lot of snail bait, and with dogs outside this is a big concern.

    Do you have any other ideas?

    Finally the bulbs rotted, which I thought may have been from the straw mulch I placed around them, but you say here mulch is good and the bulbs are hardy. That’s not what I found.

    Secondly what’s the best way of killing slugs and snails, with dog friendly killer so that the Hippeastrum flowers aren’t chewed up?

    Thanks, Paul

    • Arno on said:

      Hello Paul

      With your problems of snails, slugs and earwigs, it sounds to me like you might be living in southern Australia. In central and northern latitudes of Australia, cane toads make short work of these creatures.The issues may be that it is too cold or too wet where you live. Where do you live?

      Arno

      • paul on said:

        Previously Southern N.S.W = cold and wet; but now in Melbourne where I am having much more luck growing them in wall hanging tubs. Earwigs are still an issue

  19. Barbara on said:

    Hullo…….We are moving shortly and I would like to ask if I can dig up a few hippies we have and store them until the move……..Shall I leave the greenery long and floppy……..Many thanks BarbTahan

  20. Gen on said:

    Hi. I wanted to thank you for your article and say how thrilled I am to know the name of my hippy. Hippeastrum papillo. I bought it 10 years ago looking very sad in a nursery sale. With a bit of TLC it has thanked me every year since.

    • Arno on said:

      Hello Gen

      I’m glad I could help you ID your plant.

      H. papillo is a great plant to grow. It was once quite rare and was not readily available. Its probably my favourite Hippeastrum.

      Arno

  21. Hi Amo, I have been growing Hippeastrums for a number of yrs now, But this yr my Red Ones have lost their Red & have turned pink around the edges, Will they change back to their Original Colour… ? Tia.. 🙂

    • Arno on said:

      Hello Vicki

      I’ve not come across this before! Many of my red hippeastrums are in full flower and none have pink edges.

      I suspect it is a response to environmental issues. Gardeners in south east Queensland have had a wet winter and spring, which is quite unusual. If you live here this may be the cause.

      Enjoy the pink edges, because I suspect they will revert back to red in future years.

      Arno

  22. Arno on said:

    Hello Barb

    Hippeastrums can be dug up and stored dry over the winter months when they have died down and are dormant.

    At this time of year they are starting into growth,, so it would be better to dig up some bulbs and pot them up.

    Arno

  23. Stella on said:

    l just purchased (on 10/10/16) two Hippeastrum bulbs (1 red and 1 white) they are starting to shoot while in the bag. l live in Victoria and it is end of cold winter. if l plant them now, when can l expect them to flower?
    The one l have had for years (in a pot) has a big bud which l hope will be as nice as it usually is.
    Thanks.
    Stella.

    • Paul on said:

      Stella….. If you live inland Vic these plants are really susceptible to frost , even when dormant. DON’T plant Hippies them outside if you live in a frost susceptible area. Plant them in pots and bring them inside in the winter. Below zero temps will kill the dormant bulb . I wish some one had pointed this out to me several years ago. Never ever let them be exposed to sub zero temps in the winter.

      I wasted significant money buying Hippies, wondering why they ALL died;- only to read last year they can’t tolerate sub zero temps. Wish I knew that before.

  24. Alfonso dela Cruz on said:

    My white hippeastrums started as a seed. After 3 yrs the second time it flowered I noticed the once long stem is now so short some cases no stem at all. The flowers diectly next to its leaves. I wonder why its like that?

  25. Nola nelson on said:

    Do they only flower once a year. Central Coast area.

  26. Lin Simpson on said:

    Hi – I live on Sunshine Coast. I have a big clump of Hippi’s that have stayed green all year and I’d like to thin it out. Should I trim off leaves and dig up bulbs or keep leaves ? And is it the right time to thin them now? (March) thank you in anticipation. Lin

  27. Lee Walsh on said:

    I grow hippies from seeds and when big enough, transplant from my community garden plot at Southport into the gardens where I live at Surfer’s Paradise.
    I have 200 now. I am looking forward to seeing the display in spring. Regards Lee Walsh.

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