flowering Amaryllis belladonna

Rogan Roth Roth@ukzn.ac.za
Mon, 04 Sep 2006 23:14:11 PDT
Dear frustrated Amaryllis growers,

Here on the eastern seaboard of South Africa I have the same problems with flowering A. belladonna in pots, however I had a friend living in an area near Durban called Kloof which is almost sub-tropical in climate with warm winters and humid summers. He had a mass of A. belladonna growing fully exposed to the sun and weather in one of those shallowly conical fibre-crete planters about 1.5metre (4.5') in diameter and 500mm (1.5') deep. What always amazed me was how regularly and magnificently his plants used to flower!

I have often wondered if extreme neglect (the treatment metered out to his plants) is not the answer - impoverished soil and crowded growing conditions in full sun. The only protection they probably need is from extreme cold and the dreaded amaryllis caterpillar.

If I may waffle on a little longer, I have a sister-in-law living in the southern Cape province - the natural home of A. belladonna - who had devastating floods two years ago. Many of the bulbs on her farm were washed out by the flood waters only to be left high and dry with partially exposed roots and absolutely no protection from the elements.   She cannot recall a time before when the amaryllis flowered as well and in such profusion as they did that year. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learnt here...

Yours in gardening

(Glorious spring! Azalea and Clivia are reigning supreme in gardens at the moment with epiphytic Dendrobium nobilis adding a touch of lilac and cream. It's great to be alive and gardening!)

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