Brian Kidd takes the road to amaryllis heaven

Hip, hip, hippeastrum.
Hip, hip, hippeastrum.
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Let’s find a couple of things we can do indoors this week.

Indoor amaryllis bulbs are in stock at garden centres and they are cheaper to buy as individual bulbs rather than in boxes complete with pot and compost.

Look carefully at those in boxes and you will see they have different names. There are several colours too. You might like one which is a light pink or perhaps a deep red.

The real name for amaryllis is hippeastrum but most people call them amaryllis.

If you choose one without a box ensure the bulb is firm. There may be roots at the base which are white and brown, but don’t pick one with slimy roots.

Choose an attractive earthenware pot with a hole in the base allowing the pot to be four inches wider than the bulb.

Soak the pot in water for an hour, let it dry and it will then be ready to use. If new clay pots are not soaked the clay quickly dehydrates the compost.

John Innes compost No2 or 3 is suitable and once you’ve put a crock over the hole in the pot a little amount of compost is placed inside.

Lower the bulb in so the roots can then be lightly packed around with compost. About one third of the bulb should remain above the final surface of the compost.

The bulb is now watered and left in a light place and a flower stem will emerge by February.

Ah, but what now? Once the flower fades remove the seed heads. If the seeds are kept and sown they will take five years to flower so don’t bother if you are over 100!

Feed the mother bulb once a month with a liquid tomato fertiliser. Keep it somewhere with plenty of light to help keep the leaves from getting too long.

Stop watering in August. Put the pot on its side to let the bulb dry. The leaves will go brown and the moisture and nutrients go down into the bulb. This induces a new flower in the bulb.

By October all leaves should be brown. If not, cut them off, take the bulb out of the pot, wash and dry the pot and replant the bulb again in fresh DRY John Innes compost.

Here’s the trick. Don’t water until you see a fat flower bud appear in the bulb’s neck or there will be leaves but no flowers.

Anemones can be planted in any month. Plant five corms the right way up (see where the stem scars are on top of the corms). Plant five in a 4.5in pot, lightly covering the corm, water and they will emerge in five weeks.

Once the pots are full of roots, plant them outdoors where you want them to flower but don’t disturb the roots. You’ll have wonderful anemone blooms in early summer. ­Promise.

If you love anemone Blanda, with its single blue flowers, or the variety Rosea, these are best grown in pots. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love anemones.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Keep an eye on new plants you were given for Christmas. If the room is always warm, the plants will need more water than those in a cold room. To check, push fingers into the top of the compost in the pot and water when it feels dry. Cyclamen prefer a cool room with plenty of light but not a sunny windowsill.