Amaryllis belladonna

Michael Mace
Fri, 14 Aug 2009 12:03:10 PDT
Jim wrote:

>> I grow around 70 different collected and bred cultivars of  Amaryllis
belladonna and its hybrids.  

Wow, Jim, it sounds like you've got a great collection there.

Genetics is one of the interesting variables when comparing notes on the
growth of these things.  Because of the complex history of Amaryllis
belladonna hybrids, it's hard to be sure that we're all growing the same
things.  Obviously they're roughly the same, but I don't think there is even
full agreement on which species were mixed with pure A. belladonna to make
the hybrids we deal with today, and different crosses might have been made
in different places at different times.

So if you have different results then me, is it due to different climate, or
subtly different genetics?

>>The optimum flowering in Amaryllis occurs if 
the bulbs experience are able to grow strongly during autumn and winter 
followed by dry climatic conditions from mid Spring to mid Summer - broken 
by a summer rainstorm or heavy watering during the 2nd to 3 month of Summer.

If sufficient rainfall doesnt fall at the close of summer the bulbs wont 
flower - or flower poorly that season.

That's really interesting.  Other folks in California please correct me if
I'm wrong, but my impression is that here the most reliable blooms of A.
belladonna hybrids happen along the coast, where temperatures are moderate
throughout the year -- not too hot in summer, but very rare frost in winter.
There's a bit more moisture in the air than there is inland, because of
frequent fog.  But there is almost never significant summer rain, and you'll
sometimes see very vigorous blooms in patches along roads and old homesites
where there is no artificial irrigation.

Inland, flowering seems to vary a lot from year to year, and it's hard to
put your finger on what the difference is.  A heavy freeze will definitely
inhibit flowering the next year.  But there are also huge variations in
total number of flowers and also timing of bloom.  For example, last year
the flowering was very spread out, with some plants in bloom a lot later
than I remembered in the past.  This year, the start of the season is late.
I don't have a single flower scape in sight yet at my house, which is

To make things more complex, some varieties are *much* more reliable
bloomers than others.

I ought to keep meticulous blooming records for a couple of decades.  Then
we could correlate it to weather patterns, rainfall, temperatures, etc.
Alas, I am too lazy.

>>It is also likely that if the bulb mass is cramped and covered with  large

amounts of  Amaryllis leaf from these bulbs,  then the area around the bulbs

remains cooler and shader - impeding flower initiation.

I'm not sure that I see that here.  The bulbs definitely need sun on their
leaves, or flowering drops off.  But those old clumps along the coast have
huge layers of dead leaves over them, and still bloom very well.

I'm not saying that you're wrong you're wrong for your climate, Jim, but I
am wondering if the different weather patterns in California result in a
different reaction to crowding.

San Jose, CA (zone 9, min temp 20F / -7C)

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