Plant Collector: Amaryllis belladonna

Surprising perfection in the under-rated Amaryllis belladonna

Surprising perfection in the under-rated Amaryllis belladonna

Belladonnas naturalised on a vertical road cutting

Belladonnas naturalised on a vertical road cutting

Looking at the white perfection of the bloom just opening, it is not that easy to pick it as a common old belladonna, but that is what it is and just a random seedling at that. We tend to be a bit sniffy about belladonnas here and see them as roadside wildflowers to be taken for granted. Fortunately they thrive on benign neglect, preferring to be left undisturbed and quite happy to grow in quite difficult conditions. This one is on a vertical bank where Mark broadcast some seed several years ago.

The amaryllis family has only one solitary member and that is the belladonna – which stands for beautiful lady rather than the more common epithet of naked lady. The reference to nakedness comes from the plant’s habit of flowering before any foliage appears. This is another bulb from the Cape Province of South Africa and it is summer dormant. The flower pops up well before it actually comes into growth for the season. The colour range is from pure white through a gamut of pinks – pastel to bright sugar pink to a deep cerise bordering on red.

The more common candy pink of the belladonnas

The more common candy pink of the belladonnas

Apparently there are now some double forms around but I have yet to see them. I found a tray of perfect white ones at the back of the nursery last year and made a spot in the summer garden for them but now I am wondering about revisiting some of the other clumps we have hanging around the place to feature them more as a late summer flower. Their only real downside is that they have rather a lot of foliage for much of the year so they are best planted in a position where they can be left to their own devices and their scruffier times are not intrusive. If you are planting belladonnas, they like to be baked in the summer sun and left with their necks above the ground.

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One thought on “Plant Collector: Amaryllis belladonna

  1. Pingback: At the end of a golden summer come the autumn bulbs | Tikorangi The Jury Garden

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