Flights of Fancy – Hippeastrums on trial at RHS Wisley

The Glasshouse at RHS Wisley is host to a trial of Hippeastrums (though you might say Amaryllis) and a fine show they make, with such a wide variety of form and colour, with giant trumpets and spidery filamentous-ness side by side, gentle pastels against the brassiest and brightest, velvet against satin against crystal.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are the tropical South American plants that are so popular at Christmas for their large colourful blooms – and with 200 bulbs on display at Wisley they are providing a big splash of winter cheer.

We have close to 70 different varieties in the trial, and we want to see how well they perform over three flowering seasons.

We also aim to demonstrate how to get the best out of your bulbs because, with a little care, potted Hippeastrum bulbs can reward you with beautiful flowers over many years.

Along with the easily-recognised varieties such as ‘Charisma’ AGM and ‘Green Magic’ AGM, there are some stunning Hippeastrum cybister cultivars in the trial, such as ‘Chico’ AGM (right). Their spidery flower heads are striking and dramatic.

‘Hippeastrum’ is Greek for ‘horseman’s star’ and the name may refer to the medieval mace-like weapon known as the ‘knight’s star’ or ‘morning star’. A commonly-used name for these plants is ‘Amaryllis’ but this is not really correct because the genus Amaryllis is based on the species Amaryllis belladonna from South Africa. Although the genera Hippeastrum and Amaryllis are both in the family – Amaryllidaceae – they are botanically quite distinct.




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