Amaryllis Sonatini - Bella Rosa
3 bulbs per pack
- Colour: Soft rosy pink, with white centre
- Very dainty, ideal for use in very small pots
2 in stock
May be harmful if eaten by humans or animals – Keep away from children and pets
Nudity is not a usual sight on Cape Town’s mountain slopes, so the 1996 appearance of thousands of naked ladies on Lion’s Head is still a great topic of conversation 17 years down the line. These chats are, however, usually held between plant-lovers, because the ladies in question were Amaryllis belladonna, known as naked ladies because of the order in which their flowers grow before their leaves even appear, a not-so-common phenomenon known as hysteranthy.
Although the great blooming Lion’s Head show was spurred on by a fire that occurred two months previously, you don’t have to go to flaming extremes to create your own spectacle of Amaryllis belladonna at home. This genus is actually praised for its ease of cultivation.
Named after Amarysso, the gorgeous shepherdess in Virgil’s epic poem Eclogues, Amaryllis means ‘to sparkle’ – and so it does! Its flowers appear in the shape of decorative lampshades with exquisitely curved edges, and present a deliciously sweet, fruity scent, with colours ranging from pure white to various shades of pink. About 10cm long, these petals open to around 8cm to mimic a trumpet-like arch. The curvaceous aesthetic of these beauties is enhanced with a long upturned style that appears amid a group of large, curved anthers that present a sticky white pollen. Whether grown in pots or in clusters in a garden, this plant makes a gorgeous late-summer statement when it comes into full bloom.
Also known as the March lily (and not to be confused with the Hippeastrum, whose common name is also amaryllis), Amaryllis belladonna, indigenous to South Africa, and occurring mostly in the Western Cape, flowers annually between February and April and can produce up to 12 flowers per metre-long purplish-red stem. Its strap-like leaves only appear once the flowers have died, and they remain green throughout the winter so that the plant continues to look alive and healthy, ready for the next late-summer extravaganza. Your only concern during this time of dormancy is to make sure the lily borer stays away from your plant. This black-and-yellow striped caterpillar will bore into your plant’s leaves to get into the stem and eventually the bulb, so remove such unwelcome intruders immediately.
Amaryllis belladonna bulbs should be planted between November and January, with the neck at or just below soil level, in sandy loam with some compost. They grow best in full sun, but semi-shade will also do, although this may reduce the number of flowers produced on a stem. Although they can tolerate arid conditions, they require regular watering, but ample drainage is a pre-requisite, making them incredibly well-suited to rock gardens. Pick your planting spot well, as naked ladies do not enjoy being moved, and will retaliate by not flowering for several seasons.
It’s the same as with any lady – treat her well and the rewards will flourish.
Active during: Summer
Common Name: Amaryllis, Christmas flower
Type: True bulb
Origin: Approximately 86 species from Central and South America
Traditional Hippeastrum are large- flowering (20cm+) although many miniature hybrids have been developed in recent years. Colours range from pure white to lovely soft rose, pink, magenta, salmon, orange, red, mahogany, red and white striped beauties. Double-flowered cultivars are also available in this colour range. The strap-shaped, erect leaves accompany the rapid growth of the floral stalks.
Hippeastrum are primarily pot plants in colder countries, although they can also be planted in the South African garden with great success. They are among the easiest, fastest and most spectacular of all plants to grow, producing huge blooms in less than five weeks from planting.
In the garden: Plant the bulb without delay, before sprouting takes place. Choose a location with sufficient sunlight. Excess shade will result in extended leaves and reduce long- term flowering. Plant with the neck exposed. Hippeastrum in garden beds look best in same- colour groups of 5 or more.
In a container: Pot the bulb in any size container into which it will fit, provided it has a drainage hole. Use a good well- draining potting soil (pH 6.0 to 6.8). The soil should be light, yet nutritious, and contain no tree bark or fresh manure. Sand can be added for improved drainage. Hold the bulb so that its roots hang down into the pot, then fill in around the bulb with the potting medium. Firm it down so that no air pockets remain among the roots. The nose of the bulb should be above the pot’s rim, with its shoulder protruding above the soil surface. After planting, water well and firm down the medium again. Roots and bulb should be seated firmly, but take care not to damage the roots. Place your potted Amaryllis in a light, constantly-warm position, as this will encourage immediate growth. Any room in which a normal summer home temperature of around 20°C is maintained, is ideal. Never expose the bulb to temperatures below freezing. As the first floral stalk lengthens, rotate pot through a half turn every day or so. This keeps the stem from bending towards the strongest light source. After the initial watering, do not water again during the first week. For the following two weeks the soil should be kept only slightly moist by adding tepid water around the bulb if necessary and any water found standing in the saucer should be emptied out. Over-watering will inhibit root formation. A slightly dry medium will stimulate re-growth of the root system. Once the flower stalk is well out of the bulb, water more frequently. See the section on “Timing at home” for detail on how to have your Hippeastrum in flower over a certain date.
Faded blooms may be pulled away from the top of the stalk by breaking the pedicels (small stalks between main stem and each flower). Should you wish to maintain the plant after flowering, for re-growth and blooming next year transfer it to the garden in a sunny position. In the garden bed water every 4 days, in a pot every 2 days. Feed it with bulb food and old compost occasionally. If necessary, stake the foliage and stalks. Keep the bulb well-watered and fed until late Autumn. Then stop watering and allow the bulb to enter dormancy. You may leave the bulb in the garden if that location is expected to receive little or no water through the winter. Alternatively, lift the bulb, pot and all and place it on its side in a dry, dark, cool place. A temperature of around 13°C ideal. Allow the bulb to enjoy a well-earned rest, without food or water for three months. After this period, cut off the old foliage. Remove the bulb from the pot and wash the bulb and the roots carefully in water. Now repeat the planting process as before. With proper care it will flower again in spring.