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If you live in a part of the country where Belladonna lilies happily ovewinter, find a place for a few, at least. Tough, beautiful, fragrant and long lived these are plants that earn their garden space year after year. Also known as Naked Ladies or Surprise Lilies because the flower stalks typically preceed the foliage, the tall blooming stems are a sight to see in the late summer to autumn landscape.
Notice a resembalance to the popular holiday amaryllis often grown indoors? Belladonna lilies are in the same botanical family, with the common name Amaryllis belladonna and latin name Hippeastrum belladonna.
Belladonna lilies prefer full sun sites and can happily manage hot, dry locations once they've had a season to establish. Feel free to site belladonna lilies on exposed hillsides, in sunny beds or along borders that receive all day sun.
Achimenes prefer bright shade. They do well in sites with a few hours of early morning sun but burn in sunny locations. Hanging baskets on porch edges and pots on shady patios are ideal. Achimenes also thrive indoors on windowsills with good indirect light and can even flower inside where only florescent lights offer bright illumination. Small tan speckles or patches on the foliage are usually indications that the plants are getting too much direct sunlight.
Belladaona lilies aren't fussy about soil, but do need good drainage. A sandy loam mixture is ideal. Heavy clay isn't a good fit.
Plant either in spring or fall in the fall when the soil has cooled a bit from sunmmer's heat. Bulbs purchased in the spring should be planted in the spring, while those harvested and sold for fall planting should be planted in the fall. Carrying unplanted bulbs over from one season to another isn't recommnded. Fall planted bulbs develop roots during the winter, giving them a jump on bulbs planted the following spring.
Loosen your soil and plant your tear drop shapped bulbs with their tips at soil level pointing upwards. Space about 12" apart.
After planting, water well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Unless the weather is exceptionally dry, no additional water is typically needed until the plant begins to dvelop its long, strappy foliage.
Fertilizing belladonna lilies generally isn't necessary unless your soil is exceptionally lean. These are plants that can thrive on neglect.
When the foliage yellows, feel free to remove it to keep the garden looking good.
Belladonna lilies are well suited to container growing and can be spectacular in bloom. Keep in mind that plants in containers tend to be more succeptable to winter cold. If you live on the edge of the hardiness range for belladonna lilies, in the ground sites are likely to be more successful long term.
Light: Full sun
Soil: Average, well drained
Depth: Plant bulbs with tips at ground level
Water: Low moisture needs
Uses: Mediterranean and cottage gadens, containers and borders
Tip: Use where deer and rabbits are a problem
They Start Out looking Like This:
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