Unless you are trying to hybridize a new variety, propagate "amaryllis"
(Hippeastrum) or naked lady (Amaryllis belladonna) by dividing the bulbs
when the plant becomes overgrown and threatens to break the pot apart.
Hippeastrum can be divided at any time, but it's best not to do it
while flowering. A. belladonna should be divided only immediately after
flowering; if its roots are disturbed at any other time, it might refuse
to bloom again for several years.
If you really want to hybridize a new variety of Hippeastrum, you need
to cross-pollinate from a different variety. You should cut open the
flower bud just before it's ready to open by itself. With tiny
scissors, remove the anthers (the parts on which pollen grows). With a
dry artist's paint brush, collect pollen from a flower of another
variety and paint the pollen on the stigma (the sticky three-part
central stalk) of the "emasculated" flower. Tie a small paper bag
around the pollinated flower to prevent stray pollen from reaching it.
When the flower dies, a seed pod will form. Wait until the pod matures
and splits open. The seeds are embedded in black, papery tissue. Plant
in a light medium (e.g., half construction sand and half peat moss).
Keep moist but not wet. You should get flowers in about 3-5 years from
I don't know about hybridizing A. belladonna.
See my <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_hippeastrum.html for more
about A. belladonna and Hippeastrum. My page has links to pictures of
varieties of both at the Web site of the International Bulb Society.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Transfer pollen from the stamens to the stigma of a flower... generally best
to do this several days running, because stamens and stigmas generally don't
mature at the same time. You'll see the young fruit start to swell a few
days after the flower fades if your pollination is successful.
A couple of things to think about: you're unlikely to make great breakthroughs
in plant genetics with this sort of casual plant breeding. And the process
of making seeds takes a lot of energy from the plant, so your parent plant
may not bloom well again for a year or two. But it's a fun thing to do,
and the seedlings are simple enough to raise.
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