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Care of the Hippeastrum
Summer Water thoroughly and feed heavily. Bulbs should be watered until water comes from bottom of pot, then left to dry. Clay pots 6" wide or less may need watering daily in hot weather, a hot weekend with no water will not harm the bulb too much, but sitting in wet soil will (clay pots are recommended). Feed weekly or biweekly with water soluble fertilizer.
Fall In Sept begin to reduce water, timing varies with the weather. IE, if it is a cold wet fall, bring the bulb in and allow to dry in a sunny window, or if it is a late, warm dry fall, allow bulb to remain out until frost. In any case the bulb should be allowed to become completely dry in sunlight (dark, cold, wet=bad). Bulbs can survive a light frost, but not a heavy freeze. When soil is bone dry and leaves wither, bulb should be placed in a cool, dry area and allowed to rest. If bulb is to be repotted, remove from pot and shake off dirt, remove any roots that are not white. Rest time should be at least two months.
Note Bulb can be left in pot if there is ½" of soil around bulb (they like being crowded). If pot is too small, or there are side shoots, the bulb should be replanted. A 3" bulb can easily be grown in a 4" pot if proper care is taken. Side shoots can remain but will slow growth of the main bulb. Change the soil every 2-3 years even if reusing the same pot.
Planting After a rest period (two months or more, up to four months, or when they start budding) the bulb is ready to start growth again. Bulb should be planted with the top half exposed and watered well once. Care should be taken not to overwater at this point, see cold, wet, dark above. Do not water again until growth is visible or soil has become bone dry, then water sparingly. After a 6" flower spike or two leaves appear, watering can be increased. Keep indoors in sunny location until sometime in May, after last chance of frost.
Note Most bulbs will produce a flower spike first, then produce leaves, large bulbs may produce two or three spikes. Each bulb is different and many times smaller bulbs will produce leaves first and flower later.
Early summer Pots can be buried in the garden for less maintenance/watering and are less susceptible to frost. Do not place in direct sunlight immediately, this will result in sunburn, bulbs will tolerate full sun if gradually acclimatized. Clay pots require more watering but reduce the chance of rot.
Note This is a semi-tropical bulb that needs an extended growing season, but there is not enough light in the home for them to do well, they need full sun and must develop five sets of leaves (at least) to produce good bloom.
Note Side shoots can be planted and if treated correctly will produced blooms in three to four years.
Note Bulbs should be firm to the touch (like an apple) and as they grow will burst their papery, onionlike skin and will turn green. Any bulb that is soft, withered, or stays white for more than a few days should be removed from its pot and inspected for rot. Healthy roots will be plump, white and fuzzy, rotten roots will be brown or black and slimy. If the roots are rotting or mold is found, remove all dirt and blackened roots and rinse until very clean. Let bulb air dry for two or three hours until it is very dry. Replant bulb in dry soil-less mix and let sit for a day. Resume watering as you would when starting a new bulb - see 'Planting' above.