According to Wikipedia: Hippeastrum (pronounced /ˌhɪpiːˈæstrəm/) is a genus of about 90 species and 600+ hybrids and cultivars of bulbous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. Some species are grown for their large showy flowers. These plants are popularly but erroneously known as Amaryllis, a monotypic African genus in the same family.
I may be erroneous, but I will probably continue to call mine an Amaryllis, because few would know what I was talking about if I called it Hippeastrum!
I bought my Temptation Amaryllis bulb five years ago if memory serves, one in a long line of Amaryllis bulb purchases. Every other bulb I have tossed out after a couple of years because after one glorious season of bloom, I have failed in coaxing them to bloom again.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, after all, I’m supposedly the expert. I know what needs doing to encourage repeat blooming, and have proffered advice to numerous customers about how they can bring their Amaryllis back into bloom in subsequent years, yet I just couldn’t manage to do it!
Like all bulbous plants, Amaryllis store the energy for blooming during their growing season, then require a rest before producing their magnificent flowers. That’s why the initial bloom is easy, the producers of the bulb know how to grow Amaryllis, and generally only sell those that are mature enough and ready to blossom.
The key to coaxing your Amaryllis to bloom again is threefold:
1. A nice long growth period after blooming; I usually keep the foliage going until late summer or into autumn. As soon as the weather is warm enough for cold-sensitive annuals I put my Amaryllis outside in a shady spot and leave them there til frost threatens.
2. Regular fertilizer application during the growth period, a liquid fertilizer every two or three weeks. I use a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer while the bulbs are indoors, then they get whatever I’m using once they get outside. This usually means a rather haphazard program involving fish fertilizer, liquid kelp, and occasionally liquid bone meal.
3. A rest! I begin to reduce watering in late summer (okay, it’s actually that I get sick and tired of all that watering and it’s hot and dry so stuff tends to dry out more often at that time of year), which will trigger dormancy in the bulb. At least it’s supposed to but my Amaryllis always resist dormancy and I often resort to hacking off the leaves and chucking the pot into the garage at some point in late September.
Rather than trying to produce flowers for Christmas, I like to plan for Amaryllis flowers in January or February, when I really need a shot of colour. So I don’t “wake them up” until sometime in late December or later if I forget! Eventually I bring the pots into my home from the chilly, unheated garage and soon they awaken and begin to grow.
After years of disappointment, this particular variety of Amaryllis has re-bloomed for me each year since I bought it. I’m not really sure if ‘Temptation’ is a particularly floriferous variety or if I’m getting better at doing what I’m supposed to!
My original bulb even produced a “pup”, a young offset which I removed from the mother plant and after only one year of vegetative growth, the baby bloomed this season. I have had a lovely display of Amaryllis flowers this year, even though they are later than usual. Because I was away at Christmastime, the bulbs weren’t brought into the house until early January, and bloomed at the end of March.
I can see more pups at the base of both bulbs, so I’m hoping to separate and grow those on; once I’ve got them to blooming size they will make fine gifts for friends and family.