Sarah's top tips for planting & growing amaryllis

Watch as Sarah shares her top tips for planting and growing amaryllis, as well as discussing her favourite varieties

I can’t resist showing you this incredible amaryllis; it has got this lovely soft green base, and it's as if it has been stippled with crimson pigment, it’s just absolutely deliciously beautiful, I completely love it. 

And what we’ve got is three bulbs in a pot which look so much nicer than just single bulbs I think, and then just this lovely, crazy nest of a willow that we grow lots of here called 'Nancy Sanders' with the little pussy willows coming out and so to cheer your life in January, February, March - what could be nicer?

Amaryllis, or hippeastrum is their Latin name, are one of those things that we associate with Christmas and you can force them into flower for Christmas. Actually in the wild they naturally flower at Easter, so you can have them really in flower in your house from sort of the end of November, December, January, February, March, April and the great thing is you must store your bulbs, the bigger the bulb the longer it’s going to be throwing out flowering stems. So, the key thing with amaryllis is to save your bulbs, don’t bin them when they’ve gone over, save them, keep them, water them until about June, let them dry off and bring them into flower the following autumn. And what you get then is bigger girth, more flower stems and usually an extra flower head per stem, so you just get better value every time you store them.

And what you’ve got here, and you can just see that these are all planted slightly oddly in a way, they're planted proud of the compost. So, the bulb is a quarter or a third above the compost surface and that’s really important because these come from warm places and they rot if you water into here, so you always water into the compost and allow it to drain out the bottom and then throw that water out. So don’t let it sit in standing water because that will rot the bulb very easily.

But otherwise, they are incredibly simple to look after. They quite like steady heat, like this that you get from a radiator, and to be in the light but not bright light because that makes them go over quickly. So this shelf in our classroom couldn’t be better. 

In terms of variety, these are my favourites at the moment, I absolutely love this one called ‘Lemon Star’ which you can see in the throat it’s really lovely and sort of limey lemony green. So it’s got an ivory base and then a green wash over it and it makes a fabulous cut flower too which lasts about three weeks in the vase, it really does. And they have a hollow stem, and if you cut them longer I actually tend to put a bamboo cane up that hollow. The stem, because it’s hollow, tends to collapse and crack earlier than the flowers. Honestly I picked this 3 weeks ago already and you can see it’s just going on and on. And so, they all make beautiful cut flowers, but I only did that one, to be honest, because it collapsed and broke its stem from a pot. Otherwise I think it’s a bit of a shame to pick them.

And then we’ve got three different reds here, of different saturation, so this is the brightest which is called ‘Royal Velvet’ and I’m not so very keen on those sort of pillar box red ones but this is a corker because it’s got enough crimson over it stop it being pillar box and it’s very tall and so that’s why you know that’s real beauty and looks pretty good, it’s not even supported and is quite upstanding. 

This is a shorter one, one tone deeper called ‘Carmen’, big flowers, again absolutely luscious and then the darkest of all which is actually going over now so it’s not looking its best you can see quite petite smaller flower heads and actually I’m going to take that off because cause it’s going over and there’s another one there at the back and that’s what you do, as they go over you just individually remove the heads - that one’s called ‘Mandela’ - that’s a brand new one and I love its delicacy actually, I love the fact that it’s got the smaller head and I tend to have that in my bedroom. And the other thing that’s beautiful about that is it has got this crimson wash over the leaf and over the bud and that continues, and you can see on the stem there, it continues that lovely crimson wash. So I think 'Mandela' is a really lovely new variety that I want to watch. And then again we're just finishing again with ‘Tosca’. And so this array has really cheered me up over the winter and it looks like it’s set to cheer me up for another couple of months at least. 

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