Hippeastrum species and hybrids – bold, brilliant and dazzling!

Hippeastrum (Hippeastrums, Hippies, Barbados Lily)

Potted Orange Hippies (Hippeastrum hybrid) at our backyard, June 2008 3 flower stalks of Orange Hippeastrum at our backyard, Aug 2007

A must-have perennial bulb to splash colors to your garden!

We just love this fascinating Hippeastrum! Its tallest ever flower stalk (scape) towers at 91 cm (3 ft) to showcase flowers attractively colored salmon-orange! Every Easter for three consecutive years, this potted bulbous perennial has not failed to cheer and brighten us with one erect scape, crowned with a cluster of 4 gorgeous blooms. Hence, we’ve nicknamed it ‘Easter Lily’ as it seems to resurrect around Easter season.

And, the best part is the flowering momentum is accelerating! Not only the blooming times per year has increased (thrice in 2007 and twice so far within the 1st half of 2008), but the number of flower scapes per season increased too! This June, for the first time ever, we’re seeing 5 scapes altogether, as captured in the left topmost image (4 stalks visible as a prior withered one had been removed before shooting)! How marvelous – with several scapes, we got to enjoy the blooms over a period of almost a month! :D

Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :

  • Botanical Name: Hippeastrum
  • Common Name: Amaryllis {popularly and erroneously named for Hippeastrum and should not be mistaken for Amaryllis belladonna (Naked Lady), an African genus with a solid flowering scape, in the same family}, Hippies, Barbados Lily, Hippeastrums.
  • Family name: Amaryllidaceae
  • Plant type: Bulbous perennial flowering plant
  • Origin: Native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, spreading from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean.
  • Light: Grows best in filtered sunlight outdoors. If grown indoors, provide it with bright indirect light.
  • Moisture: Requires medium water regularly during the growing season, but water sparingly during its resting period unless during very hot seasons.
  • Soil: Well-drained and moderately fertile soil.
  • Propagation: Propagation by germination of seeds (how-to at Wikipedia) or division of offsets or small bulbs. Plant a single offset in a 6-inch pot with good potting soil, exposing the top third of its bulb above soil surface. Locate at a sunny area and water thoroughly through once and then sparingly until new growth is seen. When new leaves emerge, water adequately so that soil is damp but not overly wet that could cause bulb and roots to rot.
  • Features: Hippeastrum is a genus of more than 75 species of evergreen or deciduous perennial bulbs that consist of more than 600 hybrids and cultivars, resulting in a multitude of shapes, colors, patterns and sizes. Though a very variable genus, Hippeastrums are broadly similar in appearance.

    Potted Orange Hippeastrums at our backyard, June 2007 Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium 'Mrs. Garfield', in our gardenAll Hippeastrum bulbs (ranging from 5-12 cm or 2-5 inches across) produce strap-like basal leaves that are 25-60 cm (10-30 inches) long and 2.5-5 cm (1-2 inches) broad. Even when not in bloom, their fabulous deep green foliage that are long-lasting, add beauty and elegance to the plants. Some varieties even have variegated leaves, such as Hippeastrum ‘Mrs Garfield’, with a distinct white midrib.
    Generally, at any one time each Hippies bulb will produce one or sometimes two (maybe even three though less likely) leafless flower stalks (scapes) that are hollow yet erect, ranging from 40-91 cm (16-36 inches) in height. Each stalk, towering above the lovely foliage, bears 2-7 six-petaled lily-like or funnel-shaped flowers, up to 25 cm (10 inches) across, lasting about a week or more. Their strikingly beautiful flowers are bold and brilliant, in dazzling colors of white, pink, rose, red to crimson, yellow, green and orange, sometimes with contrasting stripes, throats or edges. Hippeastrum now come in scores of sizes, colors, patterns and textures due to such extensive hybridizing that originated from Holland and South Africa since the 18th century and now being hybridized worldwide. The bulbs can produce awesome flowers in singles, doubles, miniatures, cybisters or trumpets, though only the first three named are typically sold in nurseries and stores.
    In the tropics, Hippeastrums are evergreen, do not undergo a rest period and bloom all year round in suitable environment. In temperate countries though, most are deciduous and undergo a period of dormancy for a few months, then spring to life and bloom in spring or summer outdoors, and in the winter or spring indoors.
  • Usage: Hippeastrums are popularly grown for their spectacular display of fabulous flowers in garden borders, beds and parks, or raised planters along sidewalks and road dividers. Most ideal too in mixed perennial borders, among shrubs or under the shade of large trees. They’ll make excellent container plants for porch or patio due to their compact upright shape and fabulous foliage that are attractive even when not flowering. Try planting them en masse in your garden to attract bees, butterflies and birds.
  • Care: Hippeastrums are easily grown, needing little maintenance. Locate them at sunny and warm sites for best growth and flowering. Well-drained sandy soil, enriched with organic content is essential to prevent rotting of bulbs and roots. Keep soil moist, never overwater and feed it fortnightly or so with a liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Reduce watering when growth slows down. Hippeastrums excel and flower more when they are pot bound with a restricted root system, hence rarely need repotting. Also, the top half or third of the bulbs should be exposed above ground, not buried. Once the blooms wither, cut off spent flowers/stems to encourage growth of more leaves, leading to food production/storage in the bulbs for next season’s flowering. Remove yellow and dead leaves. Be aware that Hippeastrum sap can cause skin irritation, so wear gloves if necessary during pruning. Snails and slugs are attracted to them, otherwise least bothered by pests and diseases.
  • For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness – USDA Zone 8a to 11. More information at Floridata.

Tips on how to make Hippeastrums bloom again

  • Temperate climate where Hippies undergo dormancy:
    The US National Arboretum explains the technique to boost flowering again.
  • Tropical climate where Hippies remain evergreen and do not go dormant:
    Ha Xuan who gardens in Saigon describes in great detail how to force-bloom your Hippies to coincide with the season you desire.

Hippeastrum photo gallery: Visit International Bulb Society and Pacific Bulb Society and be astounded with the many awesome species, hybrids and cultivars presented. Enjoy!
I was definitely enraptured and my favorite exotic Hippeastrum species seen at IBS were the following, though the hybrids were as exquisite but too many to name here :

  • H. aulicum
  • H. cybister
  • H. escobaruriae
  • H. iguazanum
  • H. leopoldii
  • H. mandonii
  • H. nelsonii
  • H. papilio
  • H. psittacinum
  • H. teyucuarense

Continuing with more images of Hippeastrum hybrids taken from our garden and elsewhere:

Salmon/Orange Hippies (Hippeastrum hybrid), shot March 21, 2008
Hippeastrum hybrid (maybe hybrid of H. petiolatum or striatum?), with salmon-orange flowers
Salmon/Orange Hippies (Hippeastrum hybrid), shot April 14, 2007
Hippeastrum hybrid (maybe hybrid of H. petiolatum or striatum?), with salmon-orange flowers
Red flower with central white star, Hippeastrum 'Baby Star' at neighbour's backyard
Hippeastrum ‘Baby Star’, red flower with central white star
Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium 'Mrs. Garfield', in our garden
Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium ‘Mrs. Garfield’ – flower with central white stripe and irregular pink veins, leaves dark green with white midrib
Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium 'Mrs. Garfield'
Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium ‘Mrs. Garfield’ – flower with central white stripe and irregular pink veins, leaves dark green with white midrib
Hippeastrum 'Calimero' in our neighborhood
Hippeastrum ‘Calimero’ – brilliant red flowers with white streaks on the back of petals and has bright yellow anters
Hippeastrum 'Calimero' in our neighborhood
Hippeastrum ‘Calimero’ – brilliant red flowers with white streaks on the back of petals and has bright yellow anters
Collage showing various captures of our scarlet-coloured Hippeastrum
unidentified Hippeastrum hybrid – brilliant scarlet or orange-red flowers with dark red eye and yellow radiating outwards; it has bright yellow anters

Last edit: May 31, 2016

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19 Responses to “Hippeastrum species and hybrids – bold, brilliant and dazzling!”

  1. Ton Wijnen Says:


    Perhaps I am very brutal or intrusive but I’ll try very carefully. I
    am a collector of Hymenocallis species and Hippeastrum species or other Amaryllidaceae. I am searching seeds or little bulbs of these Amaryllidaceae.
    Can you help me please?
    Or do you know other people or botanical gardens in your area who can and will help me?

    Thank you very much warmest regards

    Ton Wijnen

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Ton Wijnen!
    So sorry, I am unable to assist you. Neither do I know of anyone who can.

  3. Blanca Wingate Says:

    Hi Jacq,

    Your Hippeastrums are indeed dazzling!!! Thank you for the wonderful site. I am growing ‘Mrs. Garfield’ here in northern California. Would you please let me know if you grow Mrs. G. in the shade or full sunlight? Mine is a young bulb and has only developed two leaves.

    Best regards,


  4. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks so much for your uplifting comment, Blanca!
    Being recently pot-planted, our 2 young bulbs which were given by a friend early this month, are located under the shade of a palm tree where they receive filtered sunlight in the morning till early afternoon. They seem happy and the larger bulb which had a tiny sprouting scape then, shot-up and presented us with 5 lovely flowers within 2 weeks. Though ‘Mrs Garfield’ as seen in our neighbour’s garden can tolerate full sunlight, their foliage do get scorched occasionally.
    Happy gardening! :)

  5. Ashok Says:

    Hippeastrum and Amaryllis are different plants.

    The hippeastrum scape is hollow whereas amaryllis scape is not.

  6. Jacqueline Says:

    Indeed, Ashok!
    Thanks for highlighting the fact here.

  7. james Says:

    I have few blubs of these and have not seen any blooms, I even tried trimming off all the leaves hoping to see new shoot together with the leaf but still no blooms. (It worked very well for rain lilies – infact I got all of my rain lilies bloomed that way)

    I also tried putting in fertilisers but no bloom.

    Can you advice what else I should to get the bloom as I had never seen one blooming. All of the blubs are passed by my friends and my mum who had given up waiting for the blooms.

  8. Jacqueline Says:

    I can just share my observations, James. I know that they need a lot of sun and water, just sufficiently for optimum growth and flowering. Previously, we water our Hippies daily but have reduced to 3 times weekly (less in rainy weather) and they seem happier.
    Unbelievably, but they can be very hardy, thriving on neglect. I recalled years ago, seeing a clump of Hippies discarded on a concrete bed outside our office on the third floor, not being tendered at all by anyone but just dependent on nature to survive. And, it did survive and flower too (though like an on and off affair) in spite of getting the full dose of afternoon sun. If fact, I’m proud to say that our Orange Hippie originated from that clump! ;-)
    Hope you can get some insights from what I’ve shared here.

  9. EKLim Says:

    Hi Jacq,
    Thank you for the clarification regarding Amaryllis and Hippeastrum, at least now I know the name of the plant, for all the while I have thought it to be Amaryllis.
    Regarding the info on the cultivation of this Hippies, I find that you have already listed almost all of them; but from my experience of planting Hippies for almost 10 years, one very important point that we have to bear in mind, we tend to over pamper the plants and this shouldn’t be encouraged. In fact we should just give them due attentions as listed by you.
    To encourage my plants to flower as often as possible, I pot them in shallow pots, the basin-shaped types, this way, I get to encourage the bulbs to grow very big(about 5 inches or 13 cm in diameter), besides, I get them to flower often as well as producing new bulbs and when the clump of bulbs has reached 5 to 6 in numbers, then it’s time to re-pot them. One thing though, prune off some leaves if there are too many.
    Hope the above pointers are able to help visitors to your site who can’t get their plants to flower often and especially those who want to multiply their plants.
    Happy gardening and God bless.

  10. Jacqueline Says:

    My pleasure, EKLim! Our thanks to you too for sharing some fresh insights on how to induce hippies to flower and produce more ‘babies’. Appreciate your kind gesture. Agree with you about pruning excess leaves…that was what we did to the orangy-red ones that flowered last month for the first time in 1.75 yrs, rewarded us for grooming them.
    Cheers and God bless!

  11. Raymond Says:

    The flowers in the pictures that you posted are beautiful. I hope that they’re available here in the Philippines.

    I got a couple of bulbs from a plant seller in the street market in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines. I acquired around 73 bulbs from him. Around 30 bulbs are now growing leaves and only 1 is growing a stem.

    How long does a bulb grow leaves after flowering?

  12. Brenda Says:

    thanks a lot for this information. i got this plant several months ago and have been searching online for its name and growing tips.. each time, i read it is called amaryllis.. so its good to finally identify it, cuz the one time it has bloomed, the flowers were exactly like the ones pictured above….with the stalks hallowed, like one person mentioned. i only wished they would flower more often… i guess this means i will have to dig them up and place them in a pot… will give that a try and see…
    thanks for the tips and info…
    this site is one of my favorite sites to read on tropical plants.. keep up the good work.

  13. Jacqueline Says:

    Raymond – Thanks for your compliment. Sorry though that we’re unable to answer your enquiry as Hippies grown in our tropical climate do not undergo a dormant period as in temperate clime. Thus their leaves are somewhat evergreen, far outnumbering the flowering scapes that emerge occasionally.

    Brenda – Thanks for the thumbs up…it’s great to know that our site is a good resource for tropical plants and you find it helpful. Like you, we too wish that they would flower more frequently but too lazy to attempt to force-bloom them. If you’re in the tropics where Hippies do not go dormant, you can force-bloom the Hippies as detailed by Ha Xuan, if you’re keen.

    Happy gardening!

  14. Brenda Says:

    actually i think they do go into a dormant stage…. cuz of the 5 i have planted 3 months ago, only one has flowered….. but thanks again.. i do love ur site and it has been helpful to me by identifying some plants i have around my yard, but never knew the name of… now i can research growing tips…

  15. Jacqueline Says:

    You’re most welcome and thanks for your kind comments, Brenda!
    Do you mean to say that Hippies undergo a dormant stage (deciduous?) in the Tropics? That’s something new to me as we’re in Malaysia with an equatorial climate and our Hippies are evergreen and don’t shed their foliage at any specific stage of growth.

  16. shahla Says:

    Please: I want to know differences Amaryllis and Hippeastrum.. Please with references

  17. Jacqueline Says:

    Shahla, the two differences that I know of are:

    1. Amaryllis has a solid flowering scape whereas Hippeastrum has a hollow one.

    2. Amaryllis has only one species while Hippeastrum has several species.

    Please check out further at this site.

  18. E.Wm.Warren,AmaryllisStudyGroup Says:

    In more than 10 years presenting seminars all over Florida the top question is why don’t my amaryllis bloom. The answer for all healthy hippeastrum hybrid bulbs over 3 years old is there is too much pressure on the upper curve of the bulb and around the neck from being too deep in the soil or from wood chip mulches around the neck for more than a year. You can quote anyone you like and argue any theory you want, but there is one absolute authority. Your amaryllis bulb. If it is healthy, but does not bloom in spring (except for rare fall bloomers) replant your bulb with the widest part of the bulb as the soil line. It will bloom iin 35 days or the next spring. You will keep it blooming for many years without having to raise the bulb by burying a 3 to 4 inch pot shard or piece of tile immediately under the bulb. Only sick or immature hybrid hippeastrum bulbs do not respond to this also most species. E.Wm.Warren, Amaryllis Study Group

  19. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi E.Wm.Warren,
    Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your expertise here. We truly appreciate your advice on the right method to induce blooming and this will surely be most beneficial to many hippies’ lovers!
    Thanks again and God bless!

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