The stunning amaryllis belladonna is known as Naked Lady in the US. The smooth-textured foliage grows in early summer then dies back.
In August or September the flower stalks come up without foliage, producing 2 to 12 fragrant, funnel-shaped, pale pink or sometimes purple or white blooms on a solid 24 to 36 inch (60-90 cm) stem. These flowers last a long time in the garden, as well as cut flowers.
Amaryllis -Family: Amaryllidaceae
There are two plants commonly referred to as amaryllis. They are both from the Amaryllidaceae family.
Amaryllis - Amaryllis belladonna
There are only two species in the genus amaryllis, amaryllis paradisicola discovered in 1998 which is not in general cultivation and the more familiar amaryllis belladonna.
Amaryllis belladonna originally comes from South Africa.
Description and Characteristics
Butterfly Amaryllis - Hippeastrum Papilio
A huge favorite is the butterfly amaryllis, looking like beautiful butterflies have landed on the 18” flower stalks. Their petals are white tinged with green and contrasting maroon stripes.
Butterfly amaryllis can be grown in Zones 3 through 10, but you must dig them up, or “lift” them before freeze, if you live in Zones 3 through 7. They like partial shade to full sun, and will bloom in 8 to 10 weeks after you’ve planted them.
These are show-stopping big, bold red or orange amaryllis, sometimes they're white or near white. They grow 18 to 24 inches tall. Each bulb produces 4 to 6 flowers. Plant bulbs 6 to 9 inches (15-22 cm) apart in partial shade to full sun. They will flower in 6 to 8 weeks.
Fabulous chartreuse-green flowers that grow on 24 inch stems. In terms of planting and care, the same applies to this beauty as the general care, above, of amaryllis.
Hardy Garden Amaryllis
No matter which varieties of amaryllis you choose, you will discover that they are a hardy flower, adding character and beauty both outside and inside the home.
Amaryllis, meaning ‘sparkling,’ was a beautiful shepherdess in Greek mythology. She fell in love with the shepherd Alteo. But he ignored her, only desiring to find a flower that never before existed.
For thirty nights Amaryllis came to Alteo’s door and pierced her heart with golden arrows. Alteo didn’t open the door until the thirtieth night, where he discovered a crimson flower, that grew from the blood of Amaryllis’ heart. Because of this story, the amaryllis symbolizes determination and beauty.
Cultivation and Care
- The Amaryllis belladonna does well in US zones 7a to 10b, in full sun.
- Plant the large amaryllis bulbs about 9 to 12 inches (22-30) apart in mildly acidic soil (6.1 to 6.5 pH), the tip of the bulb pointing up.
- Do not over water.
- Although planting bulbs will produce flowers sooner, you can propagate the flower from the amaryllis seeds. As the seeds do not store well, sew them soon after collecting them.
- They may be planted year-round.
- You may also grow this amaryllis plant indoors.
Amaryllis - Hippeastrum
The second flower called amaryllis is the genus hippeastrum. It grows 4 to 6 large flowers on a hollow 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) stem. The foliage is smooth-textured and glossy, blue-green in color. It’s often known as the Christmas flower as it can be forced to bloom indoors at a precise time. South America is its natural habitat.
Amaryllis is delightful in your garden with early blossoms in late winter through early spring. Amaryllis hippeastrum has many different breath-taking flowers found in an increasing range of colors and formation as growers strive to develop ever-more amazing blooms.
Planting Amaryllis - Hippeastrum
- Amaryllis, hippeastrum can be planted outdoors in US zones 8a to 10b, in full sun.
- Plant the bulbs about 6 to 12 inches (15-30) apart, depending on the individual bulb, in acidic soil (5.6 to 6.0 pH).
- Amaryllis care requires that the bulbs be in well-drained soil.
- Before planting place the roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours.
- Plant the bulb to its neck.
- Bulbs will flower in 7-10 weeks.
- When the plant stops flowering, cut the stem to the top of the bulb, it will flower again.
- When the leaves begin to yellow in early fall, cut them to 2 inches from the top of the bulb, remove from the soil, clean and place in a 40 to 50 degree Fahrenheit dark place for at least 6 weeks.
- You may replant them after 6 weeks. They will flower again in 8 weeks.
- Planting bulbs will produce flowers sooner, but you can grow this flower from seeds. Let the seed heads dry on the plant, then collect the seeds.
- You can grow amaryllis without soil, in a container filled with stones and water. Keep the water just below the roots, or the roots will rot.
- Pests, insects and diseases that affect amaryllis.
- Caterpillars in June and July will eat all the leaves in 4 or 5 days.
- Aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects suck the sap off the leaf.
- Thrips suck the juice from the leaves, stalks and flowers.
- Mites suck the sap from beneath the surface of the plant.
- Diseases are not usually a serious problem with amaryllis. The primary disease is fire or red spot, red-blotch, or leaf spot which causes infestation of the fungus Stagonospora curtisii. Avoid high humidity or overwatering.
- "Mosaic" is a viral disease of amaryllis. There is no known control. Infected plants need to be culled.
Growing Amaryllis in an Indoor Grow Kit
Amaryllis prefer a sandy-loam mix in the soil when grown in a container. The plant needs to go through a dormant period in the late summer, early fall before potting. You may remove off-shoots and repot them separately.
Amaryllis grown in a container may be transplanted outside when danger of frost has passed.
Diseases and Pests
Belladonna meaning “beautiful lady,” is a designation that lets us know this is a poisonous plant. Both amaryllis belladonna and hippeastrum are poisonous, which is good if you’re a gardener as rodents and deer stay away from them.
Amaryllis is attractive to butterflies, birds and bees, with fragrant flowers that are long lasting as cut flowers.
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