Hip hip eastrum!

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I hardly know a plant as forgiving as my hippeastrum. I can treat it as meanly as I please, and yet it will still bear the most beautiful blooms year after year. It’s rather like a pet dog: never a trace of resentment, no matter how cross you are or how much it is ignored. If only all plants were this magnanimous!

After my hippeastrum has flowered, I cut back the stalk and continue to water and feed it, and on the first of June I put it outside into the garden along with all my other houseplants for their summer holiday.

This is where the bad times begin for this poor neglected plant. While my other house plants revel for four months in the warm sun and gentle rain, this poor hippeastrum has a miserable time. Beloved by slugs and snails, the first thing that happens is that all its leaves are instantly eaten off. It then spends a great deal of energy fruitlessly trying to grow new leaves only for them to be attacked as they emerge from the bulb, rather like Banksy’s Girl With Balloon being slowly shredded as it exited the frame. Therefore it has to go in the cold frame, where there are fewer molluscs around, though still enough to do  damage. The cold frame is not in such a sunny position, and it tends to get rather forgotten in there, especially on my watering rounds. By September, when it is supposed to go into its rest period, it is has already been as dry as dust for three months and has no leaves to speak of.

At the end of October, all the houseplants come indoors again. Except that last autumn I forgot to bring the hippeastrum indoors, as it was in the cold frame. I recall that I didn’t bring it indoors until mid-December (gasp). But did it hold a grudge, this tropical beauty? No! It immediately began producing its fresh green strappy leaves, followed a couple of months later by its fabulous bloom.

So my apologies for your rough treatment, dear hippeastrum, and three cheers for your beautiful blooms.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and I do recommend visiting her page to see what she and many other garden bloggers across the world have put in a vase for today. Although this clay pot is most definitely not a vase, I am sure that Cathy will as forgiving as my hippeastrum and allow me to pretend that it is.

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19 thoughts on “Hip hip eastrum!

  1. Oh you do brilliantly keeping this one going year afer year, Joanna, and as most of us throw ours out after flowering I am sure it will forgive you any neglect. I did take up your suggestion a couple of years ago of putting all my spent hippeastrum that year into one pot to make keeping them more manageable – but they have done nothing since so your neglect is clearly better than mine!! Thank you for sharing yours today and for making us all wonder if they are worth keeping after all… 😉

    1. It really does do me proud, Cathy. Perhaps this one was an especially good bulb. I really have no idea what I do to make it so reliable. Try putting yours outside once the temperatures reach about 14 degrees, and then completely ignoring it for the next four months?

  2. They’re very rewarding plants and this is an especially pretty one. I’m still trying to get mine to naturalize. I was successful in doing so in my former garden, just 15 miles away, but my current garden hasn’t proved as supportive – or perhaps the problem is the drought that’s plagued Southern California for so long.

  3. It’s a lovely one with such a straight stem! I am trying to keep mine this year to see what happens in autumn, but I have never had any luck so far. Maybe a bit more neglect would help?!

    1. I remembered to turn mine this year – normally it is all over the place. Yes, neglect seems to be the key. Just shove yours outside once the temperatures reach above about 14 degrees, and leave it to its fate.

  4. Great pictures of your ‘pet’…..I give my grand-daughter one each year, and this year she posted all of them in flower. I may have to think up another bulb to give her this year!

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