Win some, lose some

amaryllid-1
A hybrid amaryllid, perhaps Hippeastrum x Sprekelia

When I became interested in growing bulbs, particularly tropical amaryllids, I soon learned that some species were either priced far beyond my budget or were simply unavailable from commercial vendors.  I had been growing orchids for about two decades, so it took me a little while to cotton on to the fact that most bulbs can be grown easily from seed.  Unlike orchid seeds, which require lab equipment and good sterile technique for flasking, bulb seeds only require appropriate potting soil and a modicum of patience.  Specialist nurseries sometimes offer seed of rare species at affordable prices, and bulb enthusiasts are generous with seeds from their plants, particularly through hobbyist exchanges like that run by the Pacific Bulb Society.

I have found that exchange seed is usually labeled accurately, but occasionally I get a surprise when the plants finally flower.  That’s not to say that the donor deliberately mislabeled the seed.  Most hobbyists aren’t taxonomists and may be growing mislabeled plants without realizing it.  Many amaryllids enthusiastically hybridize, and bees or other insects could cross-pollinate plants in a mixed collection.  And of course, accidental mix-ups could occur either in the donor’s greenhouse or in the seed exchange inventory.

Which brings us to the plant above (and below).

amaryllid-2
hybrid amaryllid, side view

In July 2014, I obtained seed ostensibly from Hippeastrum stylosum, a species from northern Brazil and Guyana that is not available from bulb vendors.  Judging by photos on the web (Google), the inflorescence of H. stylosum carries multiple salmon-colored flowers with distinctively elongated stamens and pistil that protrude well beyond the petals.

A couple of weeks ago, I was excited to see an inflorescence forming on one of the seedlings.  The flower has finally opened, and as you can see, it isn’t H. stylosum.  It’s clearly a hybrid involving a Hippeastrum of some kind, but its precise parentage is unclear.  Judging by its narrow, curled petals, strong red color, narrow foliage, and the fact that it produced a single flower, I wonder if it is xHippeastrelia, a hybrid between Hippeastrum and the Mexican amaryllid Sprekelia formossisima

IMG_7936
Sprekelia formossisima, the Jacobean lily

I have several other seedlings, but as they all have identical foliage, I don’t hold out much hope that they’ll prove to be H. stylosum.

Oh, well. You win some, you lose some.  Anyone have the true Hippeastrum stylosum?

Want to trade?

2 thoughts on “Win some, lose some

  1. In 1972 I ordered some “green amaryllis” seed from Park Seed Co. They came as 3 seed sealed in a tiny foil pack and were planted immediately, as instructed. If I remember correctly I was to expect to wait 7 years for blooms. Afterward I moved to Alabama and then North Carolina without ever seeing one. I gave the pots to the NC State Horticulture Department greenhouse about 1983 and don’t know what happened to them. They were supposed to be kept growing and not dried off as usual. They were pictured in later years in the Park Seed catalog. Nothing like the showy ones, but I didn’t expect them to be. Have you ever heard of green amaryllis?

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    1. Perhaps Hippeastrum calyptratum or a primary hybrid. Hippeastrum were formerly classified as Amaryllis, and H. calyptratum has green flowers (pollinated by bats!). It’s also an epiphyte that retains its leaves year round, which yould be consistent with your cultural instructions.

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