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Amaryllis, the knight star, is one of the most popular subtropical plants in the garden and requires special care throughout the year. Since the main flowering time of the plant is in the middle of winter, a special care program is required in summer, through which the winter bloomer can collect sufficient nutrients for the flower. This process is called "over-summer" and theoretically represents a second "over-winter" of the plant. Over-summer is important for making knight stars bloom.

risk of confusion

So that you don't "hibernate" the wrong plant over the summer, you need to know that there are several plants that are referred to as amaryllis. These would be those listed below.

Amaryllis with open calyx

Knight Stars (bot. Hippeastrum)

The knight stars originally come from the summer-dry areas of South America and grow there with an onion as an outlasting organ. Due to their origins in the southern hemisphere, they flower in winter and do not lose their leaves over summer. They reach a growth height of up to 80 cm and are poisonous to all parts of the plant. The different vegetation phases throughout the year are particularly important when caring for the knight stars, such as the resting period in summer to overwinter hippeastrum. Altogether there are about 80 species in the genus, which are distributed all over South America.


Compared to the knight stars, the amaryllis is a small genus with only two species.

  • Belladonna lily (bot. Amaryllis belladonna)
  • Amaryllis paradisicola

They are found exclusively in South Africa and are similar to the knight stars only in terms of the outlasting organ, the morphology and a preferred, dry location. Compared to the knight stars, they bloom from August and do not form any leaves. In addition, the stem is not hollow like in Hippeastrum. In Central Europe, the belladonna lily is usually offered, which due to its botanical name is confused with the knight stars, which are also popularly known as amaryllis.

Knightstar, Amaryllis


The reason for confusing the two genera lies in the botanical history. The Swedish botanist Carl von Linné combined both genera into one genus under the name "Amaryllis" in the mid-18th century, although the differences are quite large except for the appearance of the plants. In the course of further research, the knight stars were removed from the genus Amaryllis and recorded as a separate genus Hippeastrum. Both genera belong to the family of amaryllis (bot. Amaryllidaceae), which is evident from the visible morphological characters. To be on the safe side, double-check whether you have an Amaryllis or a Knight's Star at home.

Tip: If you are interested in purchasing an amaryllis plant, you should ask the dealer directly for the botanical name. From this you can immediately see whether it is a knight star, which makes summering necessary in the first place.

Amaryllis with flower buds


"Hibernate": Instructions

Oversummer is particularly important for the knight, as this time is needed for the formation of new buds. These are formed inside the onion and are therefore not visible. This time begins right after the Ice Saints, at the latest at the end of May. Earlier is not recommended, especially if you want to keep the knight stars outdoors to make use of the numerous rays of the sun. Before you can start summering, you need to prepare the plant for its summer quarters.

1. If you haven't removed the wilted flowers and stems from the winter at this point, you absolutely need to do so now. Remove them with a sharp knife or scissors. Both tools should be clean.

2. Then get the plant used to "overwintering" by placing it in a partially shaded location. There, the knight star can get used to an increased amount of sunlight over eight to ten days and thus prepare for the summer. The location also stimulates the formation of the buds.

These two steps are important to give Hippeastrum enough incentive to "hibernate". After the waiting time, you can move into the right summer quarters.

Follow these tips for summering:

1. Either choose a location in the garden that gets a lot of sun, or a window sill, the conservatory, balcony or terrace. A southern orientation is particularly recommended.

2. If you want to oversummer the Ritterstern in the bed, you should definitely put it in the pot directly in the ground. The bulbs of the plant are extremely digestible outdoors for rodents such as voles and the pot protects the amaryllis from rodents during "hibernation".

Amaryllis bulb

3. The temperature should be above 20°C to 28°C throughout the summer. Small periods of heat above 30°C are tolerated as long as there is sufficient watering. In case it gets cooler than 20°C. you definitely need to bring the plant in overnight.

4. Water is particularly important during the summer. Water regularly, but make sure that there is no waterlogging. The saucer of the pot should only be filled with water until the soil is moist. Pour away excess water.

5. Fertilizer additions over the summer time are essential and must be administered every 14 days. You can use your usual fertilizer for this, which you already use during the flowering period. If you are new to knight stars, you should use special amaryllis fertilizers that are formulated to meet the needs of the plants. These are offered by companies such as COMPO or Green24. From September, the fertilizer additions are stopped, since it is now going into the complete dormant phase before the next flowering.


What to do when the plant blooms

It can happen that the knight star blooms over the summer period, especially if a consistently favorable temperature is allowed. The best thing about the flower: you don't have to remove it and you can enjoy it on warm days. However, the amaryllis then needs a little more care because it does not stop blooming and keeps developing new flowers. If your knight star blooms over the summer, proceed as follows.

  • allow the flowers to fully bloom until they wilt
  • then consistently cut off the flower-bearing stalk
  • however, the leaves must not be injured or cut off
  • only withered leaves may be removed
  • most flowers will form on the main stem
  • this can also be cut down to the root after it has faded

These pruning measures will keep you healthy and nourished during this important time. Withered flowers only rob hippeastrum of energy needed to form buds. For this reason, these must be completely removed. Otherwise, take care of the plant as described above.

In the glas

Summer in a glass?

If you have been growing your Ritterstern in a jar up to now, you unfortunately have to put the plant in a pot over the summer. The reason for this is the high nutrient requirements of the plant, which are more effectively covered by a substrate. This step is necessary right at the end of the flowering period, when the plant is being pruned and prepared for its spring and summer quarters.

Amaryllis with its large calyxes

Proceed as follows:

1. Prepare a pot for the knight star and fill it with substrate. This should be a mixture of high-quality potting soil and cactus substrate that provides the plant with sufficient nutrients.

2. Carefully remove the plant from the jar, being particularly careful not to injure or tear off the roots. Drain the root ball on some kitchen paper.

3. Then put the knight star directly into the pot. Half of the onion is planted in the ground and all roots must be covered.

4. After that, take care of the crop as described above and you can easily keep them outside over the summer. After the amaryllis have "hibernated" you can put them back in a jar if you like it better. However, this saves you work in the following year.

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