Amaryllis belladonna“Naked Ladies”
The two-foot leafless stems of Amaryllis belladonna, crowned with fragrant pink lily-like flowers, appear annually in August, having naturalized in gardens and vacant spaces all over the world. The long strap-like leaves have dried up and disappeared weeks before the thick red stem emerges from the ground.
A. belladonna is native to South Africa and grows from an underground bulb or geophyte. The common name "Naked Ladies" is often associated with these flowers as they appear 'naked' without any leaves when they bloom. They are among the many thousands of geophytes that create a stupendous floral display in spring in the Cape Province at the tip of Africa. This vast terminal point of the continent, isolated by oceans on either side, has a Mediterranean climate similar to our own with a varied topography that helps account for 80 percent of its native species being considered endemic, found nowhere else.
Geophytes can endure long dry summers by going dormant until fall arrives, or winter rains break their dormancy. A. belladonna are not the least choosy about soil, location or moisture requirements as long as there is good drainage.
||Requires very little attention; a fertile, well drained sandy soil is best, planted with protection from wind and in a sunny location.
||Can be grown from fresh seed or by dividing the bulbs during dormancy. Try growing in large pots using a very porous soil mix.
||The genus Amaryllis is 'monotypic', meaning there is but one species. All other plants that were previously considered to be Amaryllis are currently in the genus Hippeastrum
In 1714, A. belladona was already being cultivated in Italy where it was commonly known as Donna bella
Also known as the March lily or Jersey lily.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Docents Joanne Taylor and Kathy McNeil
Profile Contributor: David Kruse-Pickler, Associate Curator