Hippeastrum performance based on a consistent algorithm?
Hippeastrum "behavior" and "maturity" seems to function not on a plant's age, but on a consistent core "math equation" of sorts, which is pretty simple. Each variety or genetically-distinct individual has its own slightly-different equation, yet under increasingly ideal growing circumstances, performance is increasingly consistent.
Your variable "inputs" are obviously water, light, nutrients, etc, but take it out of one environment and subsequent performance in a new environment shows all those previous factors have fused into a single variable: bulb size/stored energy.
So for these purposes, to determine when and how a hippeastrum will bloom, look at only two things: bulb size and environmental triggers.
Feel free to disagree with or "fact-check" anything below; it's based on a mix of reading, hearing from other growers and personal observations, but I think the bulk of this is accurate and pretty cool to know.
Not many plant species have the built-in clock systems that animal cells do, and a plant's "maturity" is based on size and environmental factors rather than age. For example, you can take a cutting from a mature tree and it will behave the same as a small tree grown from seed, and some clonal plant colonies live for tens of thousands of years.
You can plug in different variables to see how your hippeastrum will perform:
First, the seed sprouts, representing the smallest possible bulb. Obviously, it will not bloom as a seedling.
I heard via a botanist that hippeastrums produce one latent inflorescence per every 7 leaves, with some variance by variety; maybe 6 or 9, but in an individual plant it is very consistent. The embryonic flower spike will be kept latent within the bulb until the appropriate trigger causes it to develop.
So a hippeastrum will have it's first theoretical potential to bloom 7 leaves after sprouting (which will almost certainly be unsuccessful).
Small bulbs will often produce an inflorescence that aborts long before it would emerge. You may discover it a year or more later when the layers of bulb tissue have cycled through (one "leaf scale" is formed per leaf, produced on the inside of the bulb, progressing to the outside, where it eventually dries up and dies) and you find a dead undeveloped bud - or rather, the flat, dried husk of a flower stem empty of noticeable flowers - that can be anywhere between half an in inch and two inches tall.
Usually that's occuring under the soil but it is more noticeable in bulbs that are planted very high.
So I think that a hippeastrum that has produced 7 leaves is basically a miniature, yet (theoretically) mature plant.
A stressed bulb or one that is growing under unideal circumstances will likely be smaller, and will have inflorescences that abort in exactly the same way that a bulb that is too small does.
Meanwhile, a large bulb is accumulating latent inflorescences until they are triggered.
Blooming is usually triggered by increasing day length. That's occurring naturally just after December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. But moving the plant from a windowsill where part of the daylight is blocked, to an outdoor patio, can trigger the same thing and you can get the plant to send up its latent blooms early, or more times per year resulting in more blooming periods with each producing fewer blooms.
Sometimes increasing the water can trigger blooming too.
Finally, a really enormous bulb sometimes randomly blooms for no apparent reason, but you only see one flower spike. I think it's just using up one of its latent buds before it cycles through and pops out on the outside of the bulb.
A personal observation of mine is that, by variety, there can be 3-7 flowers per inflorescence - but always the same number of blooms on each inflorescence on each plant (and clones).
You might be scratching your head, certain that they haven't been consistent for you. But that's because you will not always see all the flowers, because again, hippeastrums will produce blooming parts that don't develop. That includes individual flowers within one inflorescence. Based on the size of the bulb and its stored energy, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc of those potential flowers will actually mature and open, and the rest will be visible as very tiny pin-head-sized dried things hanging where the flowers come together on the main stem. On an inflorescence that doesn't have as many blooms as the others, look for them: they're small but there.
You may also sometimes see a flower bud that grew and died at a larger size within the inflorescence, and got to be maybe an inch long. I think that's caused by the bulb having less energy, now, than it did when it first "decided" to bloom and develop an inflorescence. The change in circumstances modifies the inputs of the equation mid-effort and therefore modifies the output of the number of blooms.
So one inflorescence may have 6 flowers and the next will have 4 flowers and two unnoticeably-tiny failed ones - but the "total" is 6. (Or a different number determined by the genetics of that plant.)
Now this is pretty common knowledge, but each hippeastrum leaf translates to one "leaf scale" on the bulb - which is a "layer" of bulb tissue, like what you see as layers on a sliced onion. That's true for all "true bulbs." The leaf scales form on the inside just as their respective leaves do, they migrate outward, expand and store more energy, and then die as an outermost layer.
Every time a plant blooms, you're likely to get 1-4 layers dying per bloom (just my observation), and also every time a plant puts out a couple more leaves you're likely to see an outer layer of the bulb die as it gives up its energy to create the leaves.
Sometimes leaves will abort the same way blooms do, and you will get a leaf scale that doesn't translate to a visible leaf. That's pretty rare but can happen if baby leaves were emerging just as the bulb was forced into dormancy, or if it tried to develop leaves while in dry storage. Or if something traumatic happened to it, like the pot tipped and smashed while new leaves were growing, and it decided to skip those and move on with the next inner set of leaves.
A bulb that is growing in size will do so because it is generating leaves/scales faster than the outer ones dry up. A bulb that is declining in size will lose leaf scales faster than they form. The leaf scales themselves don't "shrink," they only die back starting from the outermost one at a faster rate. Shrinking leaf scales would result in a squishy bulb, which you almost never see unless it is diseased; most likely even a bulb kept in dry storage way too long (like a year) will just lose a lot of layers and you'll have a firm, healthy but small inner bulb inside dozens of papery dry layers.
When hippeastrums finally bloom, you will always see that one inflorescence will emerge from between outer leaf scales, and the subsequent inflorescence will emerge from between inner leaf scales. If there is a third inflorescence in a single blooming period, it will emerge from close to the very center of the bulb, against the innermost leaves.
When only one large bud has just begun to emerge from the bulb, it's positioning will help you guess if more inflorescences are to follow. If the first flower bud emerges from between inner scales or from between still-living leaves, it means that all the older latent buds have either already bloomed, or already aborted. If it emerges from between outer scales, another is likely to follow soon.
A healthier bulb will maximize its potential to produce stems and blooms on each stem, which uses energy keeps its size in check. However, you can also see that there is a "maximum" amount of blooms a plant can produce since there can only be one inflorescence per seven leaves and around 6 blooms per inflorescence, and so you can push it and get bulbs that produce their peak level of flowering, at which point it will plateau, and then the bulb itself will continue to grow and can become obscenely large. They may actually bloom the exact same amount as a smaller bulb that is still healthy enough to max out.
But you don't see hippeastrum bulbs weighing 100 pounds. There is an additional way a bulb will keep itself in check and stop expanding based on self-limiting factors: a large bulb will produce offsets that draw from the parent.
I don't know if there's the same sort of routine pattern with which hippeastrums produce offsets that either abort in an embryonic stage, or grow, as is the case with flowers. A basal plate at the bottom of a bulb is analogous to a stem in other plants, so perhaps they could theoretically produce one "branch" (in the form of an offset) per leaf like any other plant can. I know if you hack a hippeastrum bulb to bits, you will get dozens of tiny bulbs on the basal plate. But that's just a guess.
But whether or not potential offsets are developed is triggered by a different set of circumstances from blooms.
Offsets usually start within the bulb, cycle outward and grow faster when they have surfaced, but I've seen a few seem to start on the outside.
The bulb will produce more offsets when root-bound, caused by a small container or crowding with other bulbs. It's counter-intuitive that bulbs would choose to multiply when they are short on space, but many growers have observed it.
I believe that being in dry storage and having no roots at all can also sometimes trigger the development of offsets which begin growing then, or after it is planted.
Evolutionarily, an offset is the same thing as expanding in size as far as a the organism is concerned - it's genetically identical. Even though it is a separate plant, it reflects an increased chance of genetic reproduction.
I've never experimented with the idea of plucking off baby offsets while they are small to see if you can grow a mega-bulb; I'd guess that the plant would compensate by trying to generate even more of them. But you could try it.