Thursday, September 12, 2013

Amaryllis Belladonna

Closeup of Amaryllis belladonna flower in my garden now

These Amaryllis belladonna flowers are from 3 bulbs which I planted about 10 years ago
     About 10 years ago we visited Mendocino, California in August and it seemed like everywhere we looked there were Amaryllis belladonnas just like the ones in the picture in bloom.  So at the Mendocino Botanical Garden I bought 3 huge bulbs and when I got home, planted them in a fairly dry and inauspicious spot in my front border.  They didn't do very much for several years, but after that I got more and more blooms until the flowering display you see in the pictures was achieved.  Until we cut the Eucalyptus trees in the front border, these bulbs were growing in their shade and so, freed from that gloom, this year they have put on their most magnificent display ever.
     For those who are not familiar with this bulb, it is not the Amaryllis which are grown as seasonal bulbs inside at Christmas. Rather, this is a bulb which is hardy in our climate. It hails from South Africa (where else?) and is sometimes referred to as 'Naked Lady' because it blooms when the foliage is dormant. Just like colchicums, the foliage comes up in spring and goes dormant in mid summer.  Using the term 'Naked Lady' often leads to confusion because both Nerines and Lycoris are sometimes referred to as 'Naked Ladies' also.
    The most commonly found color for this bulb is the one pictured above, but it also comes in colors ranging from white to almost red. I recently found bulbs of those other colors offered by Bill the Bulb Baron and so I ordered some of his reds which he describes as a dark hot pink with some shade of purple which sounds like it is exactly the kind of color I love. I just received these bulbs yesterday--I ordered them last Thursday or Friday, so I think he immediately shipped them upon receipt of my order.  The bulbs arrived in very good condition and I must say they are impressively large. So I would highly recommend ordering from him if you want something other than the run of the mill Amaryllis belladonna.
     On his website, Bill the Bulb Baron (I love saying that) says that these bulbs, which certainly can take summer drought, as they do in my front border, will also do well in areas that get more summer moisture, including in a border or beside a watered lawn.  He also says that their main requirement is not full shade or close to it. Otherwise, anything goes. I wouldn't plant them in a swamp, though. 
     These flowers look very similar to those of Amarcinums, which I have also grown.  These are a cross between Crinums and Amaryllis belladonna, and while their flower is similar to that of the Amaryllis, their foliage is more like that of a Crinum, in that it is pretty much evergreen.  I like the straight Amaryllis belladona better, because, at least in our climate, the foliage of the Amarcrinum can be tatty looking.  The flowers of the Amaryllis belladona look cleaner to my eye because they are coming straight up from the ground with no foliage.
     This also brings up the subject of Crinums.  I have tried growing many of these, but never warmed up to them.  I love them when I see them in Hawaii but in our climate you never get the abundance of blooms that you get with Amaryllis belladonna, and you get this large mound of unkempt looking foliage.  So, I do not grow Crinums and intend to give them a miss in the future.

1 comment:

  1. All I can hope to grow is the hardier Crinums in zone 6. I wish these showier Amaryllis would grow for me.