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Here’s the deal with growing the Belladonna

Here’s the deal with growing the Belladonna Plant, also know as the Amaryllis Belladonna Lily … with this lily, good results often are a matter of luck. Good results with most kinds of garden flowers indicate gardening skill, but there are a few – like the Belladonna lily – where good results may be largely a matter of luck. The belladonna plant ranks high on the list of capricious, temperamental kinds. The beginner is as likely to have good results as the seasoned gardener.

The Belladonna Lily is a native to South Africa’s Cape Province. Due to its extremely exquisite nature, this lovely plant has found t’s way to many destinations such as Australia, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, California, Louisiana, Texas and others.

Where And How To Grow Belladonna – The “Naked Lady Plant”

However, beauty aside, what the belldonna will do in the garden next door may be slight indication of what it will do in one’s own garden. The only commonly known way to get bloom from it is to plant bulbs and wait until it decides to flower.

During August and September the belladonna lily bears large clusters of fragrant, trumpet-shaped clear vivid pink flowers on two-foot leafless stems. Belladonna is translated as “beautiful woman” in Italian. The blooms atop leafless stems has given way to name – the “Naked Lady Flower.”
It has been described as “the showiest ornament of its season” and so enchants many a gardener that thy would rather give it space for years without bloom than abandon hope of flowering it.

In England it has been standard for a couple of centuries for hot, sunny places. In many California gardens it self-sows freely and spreads rapidly. But even in England and California it may sulk four or five years if moved at the wrong season.

The Confusion Of Two Different Plants

Unfortunately, and through no one’s fault, much of what is in print about the belladonna is misleading. Two different plants with very different habits are called belladonna plant and there is rarely any way to tell of which one someone is talking about.

Add to this the fact that botanists since the days of Linnaeus have disagreed about the correct Latin names for the two kinds, and there is ample basis for the confusion.
A large part of the world, including students of Webster’s Dictionary, knows the belladonna plant as Amaryllis belladonna. For years some specialists have called it Brunsrigia rosea and was listed in catalogs as such.
Also the main difference between the Belladonna Lily and the Hippeastrum is that the latter has hollow stems.

How To Care For The Amaryllis Belladonna Lily

The Belladonna Lily plant is happiest when it is getting plenty of sunshine and warmth. Make sure to place it either beside a sunny window or on the outdoors. The way it reflects sunlight makes it more attractive in its natural state.
It has been at times recommended for growing indoors in pots but is usually more unreliable when grown that way than when grown outdoors – and is much more bother.

If you’re planning to grow the “Naked Lady” in pots, make sure that the soil maintains a level of dryness throughout its life.
When planting use a fast-draining soil for your Belladonna Lilly and keep in mind not to let excess water hang around for long, especially around the roots.
Otherwise, the true beauty of this plant will not be realized. The bulbs may rot and the flowers may appear to be unhealthy, or it might not even show up at all.

Sighting Reported Of Growing Belladonna Lilies In The US

Where drainage is good and the location slightly sheltered it has survived outdoors in northern Ohio, but the farther north it is grown, the greater the uncertainty about its blooming.
Apparently only an occasional season is mild enough to enable it to mature bulb strength sufficient for flowering in the northern part of its range.
It seems agreed that the bulbs like a summer baking, hence much of the Midwest offers conditions favorable for it. Good bloom has been reported from various parts of Oklahoma.

I had a friend report bloom in central Kentucky five years after planting. Further south than Oklahoma and Kentucky results should be better.
There are several varieties and many strains, which is one reason for varying results.
The variety common in northern California, for example, has long been listed as Belladonna minor while the one common in southern California has been offered as purpurea major.
Part of the luck involved in success with the plant lies in getting a start of a strain suited to one’s locality.

Source Gary Antosh
Picture credits Flickr.com