Hardy Amaryllis: Hippeastrum x johnsonii
I’ve seen these planted in my Houston neighborhood and they are spectacular in bloom. I thought this Amaryllis bulb was common and easy to find, but to my surprise, they are not widely available in the trade. During a recent visit from Chris Wiesinger of Southern Bulb Co. and Dr. Welch from Texas A&M, we talked about these beautiful hardy bulbs. They are perfect for our southern gardens and once most gardeners become aware of these heirloom bulbs, they’ll want them. I know I do. Normally only available for sale in spring, we are fortunate to have received 50 of these bulbs at Olive Barn for immediate sale. If you plant them now, just cover them well with mulch to protect them during their first winter. You can also plant them in pots, and move them into a sheltered area during the coldest weeks of winter. They multiply over time, and I’ve read on some blogs that you can easily propagate them from the dried seed pods. I plant to try that this spring when mine start blooming.
Some History: Many amaryllis perform well along the coastal regions, but few match this bulb in its ability to withstand cold temperatures and poor soils. Some believe it might even enjoy the clay soils it can often be found in large clumps. Even in such large clumps, the bloom capacity is not hindered in anyway. The striking red trumpet shaped blooms with their white stripes are show stoppers in every since of the word. Johnson’s amaryllis is another name for this bulb, in honor of an old hybridizer and English watch maker Mr. Johnson. It is the first hybrid ever recorded for the genus amaryllis in 1799 and many would say it’s the best. Sometimes also known as St Joseph’s lily.