Question about Naked Ladies
Sat, 15 Dec 2007 07:57:19 PST
Dear all:

I may have missed some of the discussion, but I have experience with all three plants.  First, Lycoris radiata is very distinctive.  Its leaves are thin and green with a white-stripe down the middle, almost like a Liriope.  Its blood-red flower (hence "resurrection lily") is totally unlike Lycoris squamigera or Amaryllis belladonna.  It's hardy at least as far north as northern Texas and Arkansas.  The foliage surfaces in the fall and would take frost damage in Denton, TX, but the vigor of the plants was unaffected.  It also grows and blooms well in warm-winter climates, as there are a number of old and spectacular clumps here in Yuma, AZ.  (Shade is mandatory!)

Lycoris squamigera looks like A. belladonna in flower, but the flat foliage surfaces in spring to avoid frosts and thus it is the "hardy amaryllis" or "magic lily" of cold-winter climates.  The knock on L. squamigera is that it must have winter cold and cannot tolerate the intense summer humidity of the Gulf Coast.  Nonetheless, a fellow plant freak I respect in Tucson insists that L. squamigera (and not A. belladonna) grew and bloomed for generations along some irrigation ditches or "acequias" in the Phoenix area.  Perhaps the proximity to wet soil kept the bulbs cool?  They had to have been in shade in any event.

Amaryllis belladonna is the familiar plant of the West Coast.  I doubt that this is the plant that people are growing in USDA Zone 7 or Sunset Zone 10.  I grew in Alpine, TX and the foliage would almost make it through the winter, but would inevitably be turned to mush by that one prolonged dip down to the lower teens, even in a protected location.  The plants' vigor and blooming were dramatically affected, even though the plants would continue to hang around.  They're much more forgiving of intense summer heat, as there are established blooming clumps in Tucson and Yuma (with some morning sun).  They must have some summer irrigation, as Tucson and Yuma are not Mediterranean climates. The bright green foliage, curved down the middle, is also distinctive from Lycoris.  The flowers of A. belladonna are also fragrant; I don't recall if that is true of L. squamigera.

Shawn Pollard
Yuma, AZ

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