TRUM­PET CALL

Plant amaryllis bulbs now for a won­der­ful show in sum­mer

South African Garden and Home - - Contents - SOURCES Hadeco hadeco.co.za Grow­ing bulbs in South Africa by Floris Barn­hoorn, Struik Pub­lish­ers

Plant strik­ing amaryllis now

Be­long­ing to the same family as clivias, aga­pan­thus, al­li­ums and daf­fodils, hip­peas­trums or amaryllis, as they are com­monly, al­beit in­cor­rectly, known, are sur­pris­ingly easy to grow.

Won­der­fully showy, they can be grown out­doors and then brought in­side so you can en­joy the spec­tac­u­lar blooms.

New va­ri­eties have been bred with shorter, thicker stems to sup­port the trum­pet-shaped f low­ers, which come in both sin­gles and dou­bles. Colours vary from red to dark pink and in­clude light pink, cream, white and green, and in some cases, have colour stri­a­tions. They vary in height from 30–50cm.

Forced amaryllis are avail­able in f lower in pots at shops and gar­den cen­tres from spring to au­tumn, but you can eas­ily grow them from bulbs. Th­ese are on sale in spring and early sum­mer at nurs­eries or on­line. As they don’t need a lot of care, they’re ideal for the novice gar­dener.

GROW LIKE A PRO

Although more com­monly used as con­tainer plants, bulbs can also be grown in f lower beds.

Choose a con­tainer at least 25cm in di­am­e­ter and depth for a sin­gle bulb. They mul­ti­ply within two years and be­come quite large. They will grow in any con­tainer or f lower bed pro­vid­ing they have enough light and the soil drains well.

Line the con­tainer with weed cloth to so that soil doesn’t leak out. This min­imises the need for re­pot­ting.

Add two hand­fuls of com­post to the pot­ting soil. Never use fresh ma­nure as this will burn the bulbs.

Plant the bulb with the top third above the soil level. The neck should al­ways be vis­i­ble.

Place in full sun or dap­pled shade. If grown in a pot, check the mois­ture level on a daily ba­sis. While they don’t like to sit in wa­ter, the soil should al­ways be slightly moist dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son.

If in beds, make sure the soil drains well. Wa­ter mod­er­ately ev­ery two to three days.

Feed them ev­ery two weeks with bulb

food dur­ing the f low­er­ing pe­riod.

Cut off spent f low­ers, and once the plant has fin­ished f low­er­ing, cut the stem off at the base.

The strap-like leaves re­main green after f low­er­ing and will re­main like that un­til the end of the sea­son. Don’t cut them off as they pro­duce food for the bulb for the fol­low­ing year. Keep wa­ter­ing once a week.

In au­tumn, cut off the yel­low­ing leaves. And in win­ter when plants are dor­mant, keep them dry. Lift the bulbs, rinse and dry them and store in per­fo­rated pa­per bags in a cool dark place un­til next spring.

If you pre­fer not to lift them ev­ery year, you can di­vide and re­pot them ev­ery three years. The bulbs in­crease in size and care should be taken when di­vid­ing them. Try to keep the roots in­tact and un­dam­aged. To make this eas­ier, soak the soil off in wa­ter. When re­plant­ing, check that the ar­eas around the roots are filled with soil so there are no air pock­ets.

PROB­LEMS AND SO­LU­TIONS

If the plant de­vel­ops long stems that fall over, over­wa­ter­ing or too much shade are the cause.

Too much wa­ter in win­ter can re­sult in bulbs rot­ting. They need to be kept dry from June un­til Au­gust.

Keep a look­out for the dreaded black and yel­low striped amaryllis cater­pil­lar or lily borer. As they feed at night and hide in the day, it’s not easy to catch them. Pick them off by hand or spray with Gar­den Rip­cord. They also at­tack aga­pan­thus, clivias and lil­i­ums.

To pre­vent dam­age by snails and slugs, pick them off by hand, spray the leaves with a weak salt so­lu­tion or sprin­kle crushed eggshells around the plants.

Al­ways plant fresh bulbs. Last sea­son’s un­planted bulbs might not f lower.

Mildew and fungi are the re­sult of poor air cir­cu­la­tion. This hap­pens in over­planted beds, in too much shade and in low tem­per­a­tures. Spray with a fungi­cide.

Amaryllis Sona­tini ‘Bel­ladonna’

Amaryllis Sona­tini ‘Graf­fiti’

Amaryllis Dou­ble Sym­phony ‘Rag­time’

Amaryllis Sonata ‘Dy­na­mite’

Amaryllis Sym­phony ‘Raz­zle Daz­zle’

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