Amaryllis belladonna

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 13 Aug 2009 07:42:07 PDT

Amaryllis belladonna hasn't always bloomed each year for me even though you 
see it coming up everywhere in coastal northern California. None of mine 
are showing yet even though I have seen them all around town for weeks. 
This has been discussed on this list in the past without any conclusions. 
People have suggested they need some summer water, but not a lot, that they 
need to be covered by soil or have their necks exposed, that they need a 
lot of sun. They aren't supposed to like being transplanted, but I've seen 
some bloom the next year after they were planted and others sulk for years. 
And where I live we get low temperatures in summer at night and they bloom 
most years in abundance so I'm not sure Jane's theory is right for why the 
don't bloom for her. It could be low winter temperatures instead of low 
summer temperatures. I was reviewing an old Veld and Flora which noted that 
they do not bloom reliably in the wild either. They are fynbos plants that 
normally flower only after fires at intervals of 5 to 40 years.  Since they 
do flower more often in gardens this might support the needing a lot of sun 
which they would get when the fires clear the vegetation. In the garden 
they could be planted where they are not shaded by other plants. The 
article mentioned two memorable fires. The great fire of 1950 resulted in 
the mass flowering of an estimated 50, 000 belladonna lilies. Now that must 
have been an amazing sight! In February 1996 after a raging fire in 
December 1995 at Lion's Head (Table Mountain National Park) thousands 
erupted from the blackened soil transforming the slopes into a fragrant 
white and pink carpet. Note that the latter fire occurred in summer when 
the plants would have been dormant and Kathleen's plants were stressed in 
winter when they were in growth.

Like others in our great freeze in 1990 we lost a lot of bulbs. Some 
recovered in later years. Some did not.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers 

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