Hippeastrum cultivars & growing bulbs

M Robertson dr.mas.roberts@gmail.com
Thu, 13 Dec 2018 16:08:24 PST

> Andrew, You asked about the depth of commercial Hippeastrum bulbs in the wild. I have grown Hippeastrum bulbs from seed of several hybrid varieties and crosses when I lived in Riverside, Southern California (Sunset zone 18) where the climate is perhaps not very similar to Hippeastrum's native haunts, so take my observations with a grain of salt. Riverside is very hot in the summer without any rain for about 5 months. Winters are relatively moist averaging 25 cm/yr but annual precipitation ranges from 0 to 35 cm mostly in the winter months, so I regularly irrigated them. Winters are cool with one or two degrees C of frost, but the ground never freezes. When seeded directly in light soil in a raised flower bed immediately upon dehiscence of the mature seed pod, seeds sprout quickly and the plants began to form bulbs 2 to 6 cm below the surface and appeared to pull themselves somewhat deeper by the end of the following summer. As the bulbs mature and flower in the spring 3 1/2 to 4 1/
 2  years after summer planting, the bulbs do not generally appear at the soil surface but instead form a neck that reaches the surface. Bulbs that produce offsets seem to be pushed upward by the developing bulbs under the parent bulb and eventually form a clump with the oldest bulbs protruding from the soil as much as the equivalent of 2/3 of the diameter of the bulb. But even so, under my conditions, most bulbs remained completely buried with only the neck reaching the surface. As a suggestion for growing these bulbs in the garden, like many bulb growers, I pour fine sand around the bulbs to protect them from burrowing slugs, and also leave the dying leaves in place until they dry because the slugs (there are at least 5 nasty species here) and the exotic but ubiquitous Roman snail or escargot much prefer yellowing to the green leaves of Hippeastrum. When grown from crosses and intercrosses from commercial varieties, the plants are highly variable in just about every trait including
  bulb size and depth. 
Best regards,
Mark Robertson
Roseville CA 
Northern California Sunset Zone 8b-9a

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