Amaryllis Bella Donna or Naked Ladies

Surprise lilies surprise us twice a year:  In the spring when they are only dark-green, strap-like leaves and again at the end of summer when leafless stalks emerge and bloom with pink trumpet flowers.

In Latin the name means ‘to sparkle’ and Amaryllis is a shepherdess in a poem by Virgil. Also, Bella Donna means beautiful lady. The other names for this South African native include naked lady and hurricane lily.

The bulbs are said to bloom for 75 years since they are carefree about the soil and water they are provided. The bulbs multiply and form large clumps over time.

Although some gardeners plant the seeds, the seed pods rob the bulb of strength so we remove the flowers when they finish blooming.

To divide a clump, dig carefully so the roots remain in tact. Separate the bulbs and shake off the soil. Leave any healthy green but remove the yellow leaves.

Turn the soil, adding compost, peat moss or aged manure as you go in order to enrich the planting area. Replant the largest bulbs in groups of 3, in the prepared bed, 8-inches apart, with the narrow neck of the bulb exposed just above the soil. Water them in.

Some gardeners mulch them but we never have. The smaller bulbs can be discarded, planted in containers, or put into a nursery bed to grow larger over time.

Container grown Amaryllis like to be rootbound so choose containers with about an inch of soil between the bulb and the edge of the pot. Add enough soil to cover one-third of the bulb. Keep the soil slightly moist until bulbs sprout. For indoor flowering give them 70-degrees and strong light. Water more frequently when the flowers appear and plant outside next spring.

In addition to the common pink ones, there are also golden yellow and white varieties available.


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