Amaryllis Belladonna

Amaryllis

Spectacular, lily-like perennials, useful for a late summer display. The large, trumpet-shaped, pink flowers appear on tall stems from late August into September, before the leaves.

Family: Amaryllidaceae
Botanical Name: Amaryllis
Common Names: Belladonna Lily, Jersey lily

Foliage: The narrow, green, strap-like leaves emerge in spring, then die back down in early summer before the flowers appear.

Flowers: Each bulb bears a cluster of 3 to 6 trumpet-shaped flowers on tall, erect, purple stems. The flowers vary in size and colour from white to various shades of pink and purple. The large fragrant blooms (up to 4in (10cm) across) can last for up to 8 weeks.

Flowering Period: Early to mid autumn.

Soil: Moist but well-drained fertile soil (chalk, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun is essential. Plant in a south or west facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Upright.

Type: Bulbous perennial.

Origin: South Africa.

Hardiness: Not fully hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Amaryllis

Plant outdoors in summer in a well-drained soil, under the protection of a south facing wall. Amaryllis thrives best in a rich, well-drained loam, with plenty humus added.

Outdoor planting can be gamble in colder regions as the bulbs are not fully hardy. Although, in northern areas Amaryllis can still be grown successfully in a greenhouse or conservatory.

Plant the bulbs in the summer when dormant at a depth of about 6-8in (15-20cm), so the bulb tips are just about level with the surface. Spacing 1ft (30cm). Note: Amaryllis dislike disturbance and are often slow to flower after initial planting.

The plants are leafless at flowering time so you may wish to disguise them behind other low growing foliage.

Take care not to confuse Amaryllis Belladonna with the indoor grown species, known as 'Hippeastrum', which has an entirely different growth habit.

Taking Care of Amaryllis

Support the stems to prevent wind damage. Remove faded flowers (and the stems) as they die down. Feed and mulch every year.

Leave the bulbs in the ground but protect the crown with a mulch of compost, straw or bracken over winter.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to Narcissus fly maggots.

Propagating Amaryllis

Amaryllis can be increased by division, but should be allowed to establish for several years before lifting and dividing. However, the disturbance can delay flowering, so it is often best to just buy new bulbs.

Propagation from seed can take 7 or more years to reach flowering size.

Popular Varieties of Amaryllis

The only species that can be over-wintered outdoors in the UK is A. belladonna, which is best planted at the foot of a south-facing wall, to protect the tender young leaves in winter. The bulbs are normally available from garden stores and catalogues in the summer.

Amaryllis Belladonna produces impressive large fragrant flowers, in pink or salmon, with pale yellow throats. Height to 2ft (60cm) or more. Popular varieties include 'Hathor' with pure white flowers and 'Parkeri' deep pink.

Note: Hippeastrum, often incorrectly sold under the name Amaryllis (usually as a popular gift around Christmas time), is much more tender and only suitable as a houseplant in the UK.