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Hippeastrum

From The Plant Encyclopedia

Amaryllis

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A Hippeastrum cultivar in flower

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Hippeastrum

Category Perennial, Indoor Plants
Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Angiospermae
Order Asparagales
Family Amaryllidaceae
Species in this genus
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Please enter the plant name in this format: 'Latin name - Common Name'

Aden Earth Zone

5 - 20

Cultivation

  • Cultivation: For-Gardeners, For-Horticulturists
  • Light: Sun
  • Soil: Rich
  • pH: 7
  • Moisture: Medium

Characteristics

  • Form: Herbaceous
  • Habit: Perennial
  • Flower: Large
  • Fruit/Seed:
  • Foliage: Leaves
  • Uses: Ornamental

About

Hippeastrum () is a Genus of about 90 species and 600+ hybrids and cultivars of Bulbous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. Some species are grown for their large showy flowers. These plants are popularly but erroneously known as Amaryllis, a Monotypic African genus in the same family.
General

Hippeastrum is a popular bulb flower for indoor growing. The bulb is tender and should not be exposed to Frost, but is otherwise easy to grow, with large rewards for small efforts, especially those that bloom inside during the winter months. The very large, decorative flowers can also be grown outside in Temperate areas. Most hippeastrum bulbs are between 5–12 cm (2"–5") in diameter and produce two to seven long-lasting Evergreen or Deciduous leaves that are 30–90 cm (12"–36") long and 2.5–5 cm (1"–2") wide. The flower stem is erect, 30–75 cm (12"–30") tall, 2.5–5 cm (1"–2") in diameter and is hollow. Depending on the Species, it bears two to fifteen large flowers, each of which is 13–20 cm (5"–8") across with six brightly colored Tepals (three outer Sepals and three inner petals) that may be similar in appearance or very different. Some species are Epiphytic (H. calyptratum, H. aulicum, H.arboricola and some others) and need good air circulation around their roots. Research shows that respiration doubles with each 10 °C increase in temperature.
Hippeastrum species are used as food plants by the Larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Hypercompe indecisa.

History

"Hippeastrum" is Greek for "horseman's star" (also known today as "knight's star") and was chosen in 1837 by the Honorable Reverend William Herbert, Dean of Manchester. While no one is entirely sure why he picked this name, it's likely he chose it because of the plant's striking resemblance to the "morning star", a medieval weapon used by horsemen, as William Herbert was both a clergyman and something of an expert on early medieval history. A version of the weapon was also called a "holy water sprinkler," an ecclesiastical object with which the Dean would have been familiar.
The first commercial breeders of Hippeastrum were Dutch growers who imported several Species (see list at right) from Mexico and South America and began developing Cultivars and hybrids from them in the 18th century; the first of these reached North America early in the 19th century. In 1946 two Dutch growers moved to the Union of South Africa and began cultivation there. Although most Hippeastrums come from the Dutch and South African sources, bulbs are now being developed in the United States, Japan, Israel, India, Brazil and Australia. The Double flowers from Japan are particularly beautiful.
Flower characteristics

Bighip.JPG
In general only a large bulb will put up more than one flower scape or spike but this depends on the cultivar itself; some smaller bulbs have two while some larger bulbs make only one. A bulb must produce at least four large, healthy leaves in the summer growing season before it can send up a scape the following year. Some bulbs put up two flower scapes at the same time; others may wait several weeks between blooms and sometimes the second scape will have only two or three flowers rather than the usual four. Dutch bulbs usually produce flowers first, then, after it has finished blooming, the plant will begin growing leaves. Bulbs from the South African growers usually put up a scape and leaves at the same time.

The flower colors include red, rose, pink, white, orange, yellow, and pale green with variations on these including different colored stripes and edges on the petals. Some flowers have uniform colors or patterns on all six petals while others have more pronounced colors on the upper petals than on the lower ones.

There are five types: 1) single flower; 2) double flower; 3) miniature; 4) cybister; and 5) trumpet. Cybisters have extremely thin petals and are often described as spider-like. Trumpets, as the name suggests, have flared, tube-shaped flowers. Single, double, and miniature bulbs are the ones typically sold by nurseries and other stores for the holidays in December and for Valentine's Day and Easter.

The miniature "Papilio" (which is a species hippeastrum, i.e., not a cultivar or hybrid but the actual plant that grows in the wild) has a unique color and pattern with broad rose-burgundy center stripes and striations of pale green on the upper petals and narrow stripes on the bottom three. "Papilio" has been crossed with both cybister and single flower Hippeastrums to produce hybrids with unusual striping.


References

Bibliography

  • Ockenga, Starr. Amaryllis. Clarkson Potter, NY. c2002; 95p.
  • Read, Veronica A. Hippeastrum : the Gardener's Amaryllis. Timber Press, Portland OR. c2004; 296p.

External links