Description: Tender perennial bulbous plant with straplike leaves and large, showy trumpet-shaped flowers. Often mistakenly labeled as Amaryllis.
Origin: South America.
Height x width: Height may vary, with flower stalks sometimes reaching 3 feet high or taller.
Foliage: Straplike leaves up to 2 feet long and 1.5 to 3 inches wide.
Flowers: Number of scapes (flower stems) per bulb depends on the size of the bulb, environmental conditions and number of new leaves that develop during growing season.
Culture: Grows best when planted in a well-drained sterilized planting mix. Plant the bulb with the nose above the rim of the pot; at least one-third of the bulb should be out of the soil. Normally 1 bulb is planted per 5 or 6 inch standard pot. After planting, water thoroughly; from then on, keep the soil only slightly moist. Fertilizing once a month during blossom time is helpful, but is not recommended when the flower stalk is developing. Hippeastrum is a tropical plant and is best forced at a temperature between 63 to 75 degrees F; the higher the temperature the faster the flower stalk will develop. Average forcing time until bloom is 3 to 5 weeks. To force blooming, place in low to medium light. Leaves resume growth shortly after blossoms fade and die. To keep the plant for another year, do not cut the foliage off the plant—if damage occurs to the leaves, the bulb's food reserves will not be replenished for next year's blooms. The bulb can be left in the same pot for several years, watering and fertilizing as with any other houseplant. When all danger of frost is over in the spring, set the pot outside at ground level in a sunny spot; continue to water and fertilize; in August the plant may bloom again. Before the first fall frost, take back into house and place in a cool spot with subdued light. Gradually withhold water until the soil is dry to cure the bulb and provide the 60-day rest period needed before renewed growth starts. As leaves yellow and die, remove by pulling them loose from the bulb. Top growth will begin when the rest period is complete and the process can be started over again.
Other facts of interest: Amaryllis belladonna, the true Amaryllis, is native to South Africa. It produces straplike leaves in the spring, and is often called Naked Ladies because the flower stalks, topped by a cluster of fragrant pink blooms, appear in the summer, a month or two after the leaves have died down. Flower stalks may require staking to prevent lodging by wind. Requires full sun. A. belladonna is semi-hardy in zones 6 to 8 with a covering of mulch.