Amaryllis
(Outdoor type) -- Commonly known as "Naked Ladies"
Definitely one of the most exciting bulb-growing developments of the last 100 years, these Amaryllis belladonna hybrids are bred from crosses between the common old-fashioned pink "naked lady" amaryllis and related South African bulbs, each bulb you buy being a genetically unique, seed-grown plant from my hybridizing program. Being closely related to narcissus, these are also deer-proof, gopher-proof, as easy to grow as weeds, growing in sun or part shade in any type of soil. Blooming each year in the dry season, without any watering required for survival, they are obviously highly drought-resistant, being one of the few summer or autumn flowering bulbs that can do so without being watered. This is due in part to their extensive fleshy root systems and large bulbs, and also to the fact that they have no leaves at this time, hence the name "naked ladies." The lush, shiny green leaves (about a foot long) are somewhat like those of clivias or agapanthus, and are produced during the winter and spring rainy season.

However, if the spring is unusually dry and/or hot,, there can be a significant reduction in flowering that summer, so it is a good idea to give them a good soaking once a month in the spring through May, if the rain fails to do so. Customers who have planted them right in among their other flowers, getting watered all year long, have reported excellent success.

Plant each bulb by itself (so there is room to multiply). Place them 8 - 12 inches apart, and only deep enough to cover the bulb and the necks, so the soil surface after planting should be even with the top of the neck. On top of this can go mulches, such as an inch or two of wood chips, bark or compost as these are excellent for these bulbs since their large, branching root systems are actively absorbing moisture all year long.

Flowering amaryllis (freshly dug from the field while in bloom) are available during the bloom season from late July into September. The advantage of this method is that it enables the customer to select the exact colors, shapes and sizes desired. The lack of leaves at this time classifies it as the "dormant" season. Prices vary depending upon the rarity of the type or color. Plant and water them as soon as you can and the flower buds will continue to open for a couple of weeks - a ready-made garden! Then the stem can be cut down to the ground, or left on to form pods of large decorative seeds. Or the stem can be broken off as a cut flower after purchase (fragrant and last well indoors) and the bulb planted separately.

Flowering-size bulbs (but without flowers attached) are also available at the same time (and continuing into the autumn), but as there is no flower on them it is not possible to ascertain what color a specific bulb will be, however they are bound to include some very exciting surprises in a wide range of colors from white through all shades of pink to various shades of red. All are grown from hand pollinations involving the very best parent plants, and when you see the results it is almost like being a hybridizer yourself (which I can easily teach you to do)! These will flower the following year as digging them for sale generally cancels the current season's bloom.

If your are interested in large quantities for mass planting, I would suggest buying younger bulbs, which will begin to flower in a couple of years. These are available in bags of 50 and are considerably cheaper than the larger bulbs. They are the exact same mix of diverse and exciting forms and colors mentioned above, just younger in the growth cycle.

It is also possible to grow these amaryllis in pots, but I would suggest nothing smaller than a 5 gallon size as they need lots of space for their big bulbs and roots. Water occasionally whenever they are not receiving adequate rainfall.


Copyright 2003 by Bill the Bulb Baron