One of the most rewarding, spectacular and easily grown container plants is the hippeastrum (hipp-e-as'-trum).
There are nearly 80 species of these tropical South American bulbs of the amaryllis family.
Although closely resembling it's slightly bigger brother, the amaryllis, hippeastrums differ in having hollow flower stalks and are generally a little more trumpet shaped and graceful.
Up to five large, showy, lily-like flowers appear atop a thick fleshy 60cm. stem which usually appears with the leaves in spring.
The large 7.5-10cm bulbs often produce further flower spikes through summer in white, red, orange, salmon, pink and stripped or mixed tones.
If given a warm, rich, well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered site the bulbs can be left undisturbed in a bed or border for many years.
They demand dry winters so are often grown in containers kept completely dry until the first buds appear. Spring is an excellent time to plant or repot the bulbs.
Choose a container about twice the diameter of the bulb. Plant with roots spread into the pot and the bulb almost entirely exposed above the surface.
Feed and water freely once growth begins.
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