Amaryllis - Amaryllidaceae - How to care for, grow and flower Amarillis plants

 Amaryllis - Amaryllidaceae - How to care for, grow and flower Amarillis plants

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Cultivation techniques

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There Dracula is a genus of evergreen orchid that includes just over a hundred species characterized by the fact that they love humid and shady environments. They are small jewels that, even if they are not in flowers, are equally very attractive and particular.

They are native plants of South and Central America located mainly in the Colombian forests and in the Ecuadorian Andes between 500 and 2500 m above sea level. The most famous among the different species is the Vampire Dracula (photo above) is found only on the slopes of Mount Pichincha (in Ecuador, near the city of Quito) between 1900 and 2200 m above sea level.

The genus name means "Little dragon" as Carlyle Luer when he classified it, chose this name because observing them reminded him of a dragon. In popular fantasy then this name has actually been associated with the more famous Count Dracula (born from the imagination of Bram Stoker) perhaps due to the fact that in its natural habitat the orchid lives in shady forests, where there is always a soft fog and therefore the name, associated with its habitat, evoked the most famous count.

They are plants that resemble Masdevallia so much so that at the beginning they were classified within their genus but then separated as in addition to having different morphological characters, they also have different cultural needs.

In their natural habitats the Dracula they are predominantly EPIPHITE and someTERRESTRIALand are frequently found in the lower part of the trees in wooded and forest areas.

The Dracula they are mostly developing plantsSIMPODIALi.e. they grow horizontally and they have pseudobulbs almost imperceptible.

Leaves they are thin and 15 to 30 cm long.

The flowers of this orchid are spectacular, very large, characterized by three sepals rounded, which can be fused at the base, with the elongated rounded part to form a sort of tail that also extends up to 30 cm in length in the Dracula wallisii. The sepals are large and generally covered with hair, warts and numerous veins or streaks of a generally dark color. The colors range from white with shades of yellow, to pink, blood red to dark brown - almost black. The petals generally they are very small and placed next to the small column and usually darkly stained, a feature that makes them look like the eyes of a small dragon. The labellum it is typically large and hangs from the center of the flower and is usually a contrasting color to the rest of the flower. The flowers emerge directly from the substrate through pedicels, a very important feature to be taken into consideration when choosing the container that will host them.

Pollination it is entomophilous and occurs by particular species of diptera of the familyDrosophilidae which according to some scholars would be attracted by the particular structure of the flower that would resemble some mushrooms. Kaiser in his bookThe scent of orchids: olfactory and chemical investigations (see bibliography) writes that analyzing the scent of the orchid Dracula chestertonii noted that several compounds are the same as some fungi sought by insects to lay their eggs.

They are orchids that do not enter vegetative rest therefore they grow throughout the year.

Certainly there is to be said about these curious and funny orchids which are not at all easy to grow as they require quite extreme conditions almost impossible to achieve in a home, unless, and this is a piece of advice I would like to give you, you do not rear them in the cellar because the only place in the house where they could recreate the conditions that suit them for their survival: high humidity, cool temperatures all year round, little light, little movement of people around (they love to be quiet) and, with some small precautions, good ventilation. All these conditions must be respected, without the possibility of any exclusion as it is not a plant of half measures: either everything or we can forget not only the flowering but the survival of the plant itself.


For the Dracula temperatures should not exceed 18-20 ° C during the day and 10-12 ° C at night. Already temperatures around 26 ° C are deadly for the plant as both the roots and the buds dry out very quickly.

If the temperatures rise beyond the optimal values ​​it is essential to maintain a very cool environment around the orchid with frequent nebulizations, even twice a day.

The difference in temperature between day and night is important to ensure flowering.

In consideration of the high humidity they require, always ensure perfect ventilation, the lack of which could favor the onset of mold.

Some species of Dracula they are able to withstand higher temperatures: let's talk about the Draculacordobae, Dracula lotax, Dracula mopsus, Smart Dracula isDracula inaequalis which grow at daytime temperatures as high as 25 ° C and at 15 ° C at night. A lot of caution is needed and an even more perfect air circulation at these temperatures because the high humidity associated with high temperatures are the optimal ground for the onset of fungal diseases.

(For more information on the temperature and ventilation of orchids see the article: "Temperature and ventilation of orchids").


The Dracula they are plants that do not require a lot of light: an average intensity of 1,000 - 1,500 lux is more than enough to satisfy their light needs and guarantee splendid blooms. Higher intensities are definitely harmful for both plant growth and flower production, especially if they are also associated with high temperatures.

(For more information on the light of orchids see the article: "Light needs of orchids").


The draculas water themselves so that the growing medium becomes completely saturated with water and then let it go away through the drainage holes and must never dry out.

During the summer, to maintain the lowest temperatures, the plant should be watered even twice a day: early in the morning and in the afternoon and spray regularly using in both cases rigorously either rain or demineralized water.

It is important to maintain a very high humidity associated with good air circulation especially during the flowering period. Keep in mind that in nature the humidity around the orchid is around 70-90%. If the humidity is not maintained at these levels within a very short time (hours but in the case of, for exampleVampire Dracula even minutes) the flowers wither as the plant suffers a real shock.

In view of the high levels of humidity it is important that there is always good air circulation.

(For more information on orchid watering see the article: "Orchid watering and humidity").


Fertilization is a very delicate aspect for Draculaas they are very sensitive to high concentrations (as well as to pesticides) so it is necessary to administer them very moderately and in minimal doses.

As for the quantities to be administered, I recommend doses 1/10 compared to those indicated in the fertilizer package, once a month and many recommend fertilizers with a higher nitrogen title (N) than phosphorus (P) and potassium ( K).

Despite the Dracula are actively growing throughout the year, it is advisable not to fertilize during the winter period (from November to February).

Fertilizers must always be dissolved in irrigation water and administered with the substrate always moist.

(For more information on orchid fertilization you can consult the article: "Orchid fertilization").


There Dracula it is preferable to repot it every year this in consideration of the fact that in the cultivation substrate it is advisable to have sphagnum which, over time, deteriorates considering the high degree of humidity that must be kept.

Repotting is also the time to divide the plant while making sure that each portion has at least seven healthy leaves.

The ideal containers for these orchids they are wire mesh baskets where the roots can be comfortable (they do not like to be constrained) as most of the species have a tendency to produce flowers even from the lower and lateral parts and sprout from any point of the substrate in search of the light with long pendulous pedicels.

A good type of substrate it can be constituted in this way: in the lower part of the basket place some bark while in the upper part, the one that will actually be in contact with the roots of the sphagnum and spruce bark of medium size or alternatively peat and chopped bark. In any case, sphagnum is important to ensure a humid environment.

The sphagnum, before decanting, must be adequately wet as if inserted dry and then watered after repotting with water it swells and can suffocate the roots. In any case, all the substrate used for repotting should be left in water for a few days to hydrate and eliminate dust or other residues.

When the time has come for repotting, do it with the roots very moistened as in this way they are more elastic and the danger of possible breakages is less. Furthermore, it is necessary to clean them thoroughly of all residual material and eliminate any damaged parts, cutting at least one centimeter above the damaged part, with clean and disinfected scissors, better if over a flame or with bleach or alcohol.

(For more information on the type of soil and repotting of orchids you can consult the article "Type of substrate and repotting of orchids").


The flowering period of the Dracula it is extremely variable and it is not possible to give general indications, some are linked to the seasons, others at any time of the year.

They are orchids that, if their cultivation needs are respected, are very generous and bloom continuously as they do not enter vegetative rest.


Regarding orchid diseasesDracula see the chapter: "Diseases and treatments of orchids".


The first orchid Dracula it was discovered in 1870 even though they were initially classified in the genusMasdevallia. Only in 1978, Carlyle Luer, raised them to the rank of genus in their own right as he observed that they had a different structure of leaves and flowers and also different cultural needs.

They are orchids still to be discovered as it is thought that in the forests of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru there are many still unknown species.

There are several hybrids among which the Dracuvallia obtained by crossing between theMasdevallia x Dracula.


See: «Orchids - The language of flowers and plants».

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Video: Planting Amaryllis Bulbs u0026 Forcing Last Years Amaryllis to Bloom! . Garden Answer


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