How to grow hippeastrum/amaryllis from seeds
Amaryllis is very rewarding bulbous plant it blooms in spring with big,bold and colorful blooms.in previous years hippeastrum is extensively hybridized between hippeastrum species which resulted in beautiful hybrids of present day.due to extensive hybridization these hybrids are very different from their parent species bulbs.these are big in size with different colors ranging from solid colors to stripes and dotted ..few hybrids are spider shape…all this is possible with pollination and seeds which gives us plants which inherit parent traits and few mixed qualities which produce something totally different from parent plants.so it is very exciting to pollinate different amaryllis varieties and get ripen seeds…i will write a detailed post on hippeastrum pollination procedure in coming days.
how to collect seeds..
after succesful pollination seed pod start to swell and after almost 4 weeks becomes fully ripen.when fully ripen it starts to crack from sides and seeds become visible now is time to collect seeds.break seed pod from stem and collect seeds.store in box with proper tag. according to my experience when seed pod cracks it is best time to collect seeds.
how to check viability of seeds…
often it happens that pollination becomes successful and seed pod ripens completely but seeds never germinate it is due to dead seeds or chaff seeds which haven’t any embryo inside them.it is clear indication that pollination was not successful and mother hippe not accepted pollen.it is very easy to check viable seeds.pick the seed and place it between your fingers and feel swollen part of seed.if seed is like a paper plane then it is dead if it has a bump in center that most probably it is live.it is not necessary that a fat seed is sign of alive seeds some times seed contains only water which can be checked by lightly squeezing seed.if it is watery than water will come out.here is photo of fresh and healthy seeds.small bumps in the center of seeds are clearly visible
when to sow seeds…
according to my experience and limited knowledge to get 100 % success rate it is important to sow seeds immediately after harvesting..especially when temperature is getting high like in our climate(zone similar to 9b) seed pods start to ripe in April /May when temperature suddenly start to rise and seeds become dry and dead..so it is advised to sow seeds as early as possible to increase germination rate.although seeds remain healthy up to 1 week but germination rate lower down.if you dont want to sow seeds or haven’t arrangements for seed sowing then you can save them in cold place or in refrigerator for a longer period…but i personally never stored seeds more than a week.
methods of seed sowing…
usually hippeastrum seeds are germinated by two methods.
- floating in water
- direct sowing in growing mix.
1.water floating method…
water floating method is very useful to check viability of seeds.live seeds float on water while dead seeds drown in water.through this method seeds are floated on water for few days and when they germinate and send root and leaf then they are individually transplanted in growing mix.this method is useful for indoor or green house setup.only draw back of this method is when germinated seeds are transplanted they struggle to survive in new mix and temperature and most of them die. especially in hot climate when seeds are transfer from water to potting mix they come under shock.
2.direct sowing methods..
this is very common and successful method of growing hippeastrum seeds.i have got 80 % germination result with this method…seeds are directly sown in growing medium either in seedling trays or pots.this method is very successful in hot weather like here in Pakistan.
growing medium for hippeastrum seeds…
like other bulb seeds hippeastrum seeds are very fragile and they need very light and porous medium to germinate.first root appears and penetrate in medium in search of food.if medium will be hard then root will struggle and eventually die.i am using 3 tier growing medium for amaryllis seeds..first i use mix of loam+sand+well rotten compost for bottom layer and fill pot with this mix almost up to neck of pot,then fill second layer of peat moss soaked in water at least half inch for easy root germination and water retention..then i place seeds on peat moss and cover it with another thin layer of peat moss or coco peat.this year i used this method and got almost 100 % results.beware cover seeds with very thin layer of peat moss or cocopeat.
how to water..
seeds of hippeastrum are very light and are easily dispersed if water directly..so it is advised to water from bottom of pot or use thin sprinkler for few days until seeds germinate.water regularly two times and keep medium soggy because if medium dried once then almost half seeds will die.key to good germination of hippeastrum seeds is to keep medium wet.
post germination care..
at this stage hippeastrums are in very weak condition,only little root and small leaf so they need a lot care.after first week of germination drench all medium with good quality fungicide to avoid root rot and stem rot.repeat this procedure fortnightly. water carefully so their roots remain intact and plant is not disturbed.keep medium soggy until second leaf emerges.at this stage no fertilizer is required because roots are at earlier stage and not able to absorb fertilizer.after 2 months of growth now is time to fertilize seedling..make a weak solution of NPK 20-20-20 and flood seedlings.repeat this application fortnightly.it takes three years from seed to bloom but end result is always a fun and rewarding…you don’t know until flower open that what color and shape will be…that is real fun…
useful links for further reading..