Also known as: Amaryllis Belladonna

The lovely bulb-grown amaryllis plant is a popular bulb in many gardens for its delicate lily-like flowers and pretty colors. It is a monogenic plant, meaning that amaryllis belladonna is the sole species of the whole genus, although Amaryllidaceae includes other flowers like the snowdrop and daffodil. It is native to South Africa and was thought to have been brought back by Dutch settlers in the late 1600s.

Amaryllis was named after the Greek nymph, who pierced her heart with a golden arrow to win her love and turned into a flower with red streaks. The bulb is not to be confused with Hippeastrum, a look-alike from South America. This plant is of a completely different genus. True amaryllis bulbs belong only to the belladonna lily. Amaryllis makes a lovely addition to any cutting garden.

The flower can be pink, red, white or bicolored, and quite showy. It sits on top of a red or green leafless stem that produces leaves close to the ground after the blossom erupts. You should plan for a tall garden design, as amaryllis can grow up to 36 inches tall and spread out to approximately a foot. It should be planted in the early summer, spaced to a foot apart, and it will flower in midsummer.

Growing Amaryllis

Amaryllis needs full sun in the afternoon, but will tolerate partial shade. Plant the bulbs just under the surface in fertile, well-drained soil. Amaryllis does benefit from an infusion of liquid fertilizer, but this is not a requirement for growing the bulb. Store the bulbs in a container or peat at around 70 degrees F. Do not divide this plant.

Recommended Varieties

Despite the fact that amaryllis belladonna is monogenic, it does provide a number of cultivars to choose from. "Barberton" has dark pink flowers and "Cape Town" has deep red blossoms. If you're looking for something a little more subtle for your landscape design, "Hathor" and "Johannesburg" produce white or pastel pink flowers. A bicolor variety, "Kimberley", has deep pink flowers with white centers.

Landscape Design Tips

Amaryllis does well in both container garden and border setting, but in places where it's not hardy, it might be best to plant it in a sheltered location, where it can get full sun but stay out of the wind. The plant makes an excellent cut flower.

Gardening Zones

Amaryllis is hardy in zones 9 to 11, and semi-hardy in zones 6 to 8.

Pests and Diseases

The bulb can suffer from leaf scorch, leaf spot, Southern blight, slugs, narcissus bulb flies, and spider mites. Sometimes, it may experience cucumber mosaic virus.