Hippeastrum Cultivation

Air-Layering, Grafting, Cuttings Etc

Moderator: Izhar

Post Reply
Muhammad Arif Khan
Posts: 4323
Joined: April 14th, 2011, 1:01 pm

Hippeastrum Cultivation

Post by Muhammad Arif Khan » December 11th, 2012, 10:19 am

I have been asking questions regarding cultivation of Amaryllis from friends on Garden Web.
This post should be of value to those interested in growing Amaryllis.

• Posted by kaboehm 8b (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 28, 11 at 19:52
Here's 1 year of root growth in a 1 gallon pot (std size bulb). I won't be wasting my $$$ on some special "root promoting" system...I don't have the budget to buy bigger pots!! Good thing they like being root bound!

Hippeastrums and other similar plants tend to produce a lot of thicker, fleshy roots, as indicated nicely in Kristi's photo. It is believed that some seasonally die during the resting or dormant period, which is why it's wise not to go too long between re-pottings, whether you bump the pot size or not. You want to get in there every couple of years and see what's going on
Exactly, Kristi... and even though a more gritty, inorganic medium will hold its structure longer, the bark portion... or whatever other organic ingredients are used... is organic, and will eventually break down, or decompose. It will need freshening after a certain amount of time, and that's the perfect opportunity to give the roots a good look, ridding the plant or bulb of any that are dead.
By re-pot, I mean removing as much of the old medium from the root system as possible, bare-rooting the plant to inspect the roots... and in the case of a bulb, the basal plate, as well. I would snip off any dead roots, using sterile snips or scissors, and dusting lightly with an anti-fungal such as Captan... or cinnamon, if Captan isn't available
Dear Arif,
WOW! Some of these questions have come up in the past, and I don't think you ever really got answers. It would be great if Hans-Werner, Del, Blanca, Maria, or other experts with years of Hippeastrum growing would chime in.
Here are my thoughts...not really answers:
1) Does a bulb flower repeatedly every year under same conditions? - I think you could count on a bulb to flower annually or more often if they were grown under optimal conditions. If conditions are less than optimal, they may bloom every year as that is their normal cycle; however, they may go into an odd cycle. I was always under the impression that stressing a plant actually induces blooming as it is the bulb's mechanism for reproduction and survival. I would therefore guess as that as long as the conditions are adequate, and there have been no extreme stressors at a critical time in (internal) scape development, you could/should expect an annual bloom.
2) Does a forced dormancy help in inducing it to flower? I think that this may be part of the stress --> bloom "thing". If stored in the cold/cool, they are tricked into thinking that it is spring once they are exposed to warmth and sun. I know that forcing may cause a bulb to skip an annual bloom cycle as their internal clock may (not always) be disturbed. The growth of the scape for the next season's bloom starts long before the emergence of the scape. I know that when I cut apart the bulb in August, the little scape was already well formed deep in the heart of the bulb.
3) How to force dormancy on bulbs growing in garden? The soil never dries out completely. In Spring, TX (north of Houston) I cover my bulbs with leaves. This blocks out the light and the leaves wither and die back, but it still allows them to breath. The winters are cool enough that they don't grow through the leaves. If you are concerned about the water, could you put stakes every few feet and cover your bulbs with a tarp so that they dry out, but the tarp won't hold moisture in, thus they won't rot as it is not sitting right down on the neck of the bulbs? Just a thought.
4) Is there a natural life of a hippi bulb? I think there must be as I have a pot of Candy Cane from Ludwig that was sold in 1991. I know that I don't have the original bulb as it freely makes offsets. Even some Gordie bulbs had offsets and then the mother bulb disappeared. I think the lifespan depends on the vigor, but am sure there is a natural lifespan. Don't know what it is. Guess we could start counting years on some of our seedlings! Tag the bulb with a copper wire/tag to ID it as original and see how long THAT bulb lives.
5) They say it takes three years for full development of root system, you think it is true. I know that some of my yearling bulblets had awesome root systems. Maybe in the ground the roots will be as large and extensive as they will be when they are 3, but I think the point here is growing young bulbs in a loose medium that encourages massive root development. The more roots the bulb has, the more efficient it can be at nutrient uptake. Perhaps a 4-yr old bulb's roots aren't anymore expansive than a 3-yr old...basal plate health, etc figure into it as well. A well treated bulb probably has as many points on the basal plate from which roots will emerge as it every will have in its life. Roots from an older bigger bulb may be proportionately larger/thicker. Hmmm...another research project! :-)
6) Whenever I pull out a bulb it has many dead roots along with healthy ones. Do they shed roots like leaves? I think they must. I've found the same thing. Do you know if new roots grow from the spot where the dead root was removed from?
Thanks for asking such though provoking questions. Again, these are just my thoughts...I think there's lots of room for "it depends".
What about stale soil? In african violets, stale soil-- the type that air does not regularly circulate etc-- is never used by the plant. Is it safe to assume this is true for hippies? And does this affect plants in ground?
As for growing these plants hydroponically-- while true I enjoy growing them this way, I can tell you I have witnessed a life-cycle of roots... they're shed just like the leaves, or so it seems. But at the same time they're always being replaced. Some of my large cultivars such as Royal Velvet have about 15-20 thick white roots coming from the basal plate and thats it. They don't wind around the pot but develop into the reservoir, branch out to secondary and possibly tertiary roots at most and thats it. Most of my bulbs have put on size and bulblets grown this way-- but like soil growing, some have not.

I only brought it up because when I did use soil, I found the center of my pots had no roots but the outer soil, against the pot, were packed and even root-bound. Why is this? Is it because of the lateral nature of their growth? I don't think it is, because when I unpot a hippie grown in hydroton, the pot is filled evenly with roots-- no empty spots.
I bet if you unpot your hippies, Kristi, you'll find a lot more roots on the outer areas of the sol but also in the center, too. These roots love light and airy

Re the roots-- no I have none that grow straight down in the pot, even in hydroponics-- but unlike the soil plants, the area beneath the bulbs in hydroponics is used-- so perhaps a very small area immediately underneath the plant is still void of roots, but more of the pot is more evenly used....does that make sense?

Post Reply

Return to “Advance Gardening”