Amaryllis belladonna

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Botanical Name
Amaryllis belladonna
Amaryllidaceae - The amaryllis family.
am-uh-RIL-us bel-la-DON-na
Common Name(s)
English: Belladonna Lily; March Lily; Naked Lady
Afrikaans: Amaryllis; Belladonnalelie; Maartlelie; Misblom; Misrybol; Misryersblom
Plant Group
  • Bulb / Corm / Rhizome / Tuber / Epigeal bulb Bulbs: are made up of fleshy scales as in an onion Corm: a short, swollen, underground stem that is hard and not fleshy as in a gladiolus Tuber: a solid, fleshy, underground, storage organ as in a potato Rhizome: an underground, horizontal, swollen stem at the base of the plant as in an iris Epigeal bulb: bulbs that rest above the ground with only the roots anchoring the plant to the earth as in albuca
Plant Size
  • Medium
    Tree10m to 16m
    Shrub1m to 2m
    Perennial/ground cover40cm to 60cm
    Bulb40cm to 60cm
    Succulent40cm to 60cm
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Deciduous Plants which completely lose their foliage for part of the year.
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Fragrant / Aromatic These plants posses a strong, usually pleasant odour.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
Specific Information

Amaryllis belladonna is a bulbous plant with strap-like leaves about 50 cm long and a large, rounded brown bulb. Flowering takes place in February or March before the leaves appear, hence the common name Naked Lady. The leaves appear after flowering and grow throughout the wet winter months, but die back in summer when the bulb becomes dormant. In this way, the plant conserves its resources by avoiding  stress during the hot dry period of its Mediterranean-type climate. The late flowering time allows the short-lived seed to fall just before the cooler rainy season. The bulb will survive heat but sustained winter temperatures of -5°C and below will result in the death of the plant.

 In cultivation flowers are produced almost every year but in their natural fynbos habitat they emerge in great numbers only after fire.

The bulbs are very toxic to livestock and humans. 

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up to twelve trumpet-shaped flowers on a 50 cm tall purplish-red and green stem

  • Summer to Autumn Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • pink
  • white
Growth Rate
  • Moderate Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Interplanting Arranging and planting plants in the garden that have different blooming times and habits of growth, extending the amount of time in which the area is in flower.
  • Pot Plant A plant that needs a protected environment on a patio or indoors.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

in the south-western part of the Western Cape in small dense groups among rocks

Planting Suggestions

Amaryllis belladonna is not difficult to grow and needs little attention. Plant the bulbs in a sunny or slightly shaded position in well-drained soil. The bulbs should be planted with their necks just above the ground. Do not remove the old leaves until they are completely dead. Mature bulbs will provide offsets which can be removed and replanted and the seed germinates well if sown fresh. It will take 4 - 6 years for plants to flower from seed. Division of clumps is done in late spring or summer. The plants resent interference and may not flower the first summer after replanting.

For those in cold climates, Amaryllis should be grown in pots. Use a free-draining mix of equal amounts of sharp sand, compost and loam, and plant the bulbs 5 - 6 cm away from the pot wall.

Amaryllis belladonna is often attacked by the destructive black and yellow striped Lily Borer caterpillar.

Medicinal Uses

The sap from the bulbs was reportedly used by the Khoi and San people as an arrow poison.

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Hi there,

This may be a strange request but does anyone know who sells amaryllis stems. I have enough time to grow a garden-full, but so scared about quality (and my eager puppy!!!)

I'm looking for loads of them for our wedding in April. Please help

Hi Caryn

I have personally never seen Amaryllis belladonna stems on sale. This could be because the blooms themselves are a bit delicate and bruise quite easily, even when gently handled, so they are not commercially viable as cut flowers. Also,the flowering period is limited to a couple of weeks a year and even then, the flowering time varies according to the weather and rainfall.

The only place I can imagine you might get them would be flower sellers in Cape Town, so if that is where you live, you may get lucky. You would have to contact the flower wholesalers there.

Best wishes for your special day.
Kind regards

Thanks Lorraine. I'm in Johannesburg.

Thanks for explaining.

I have seen a few at our local florist, but, as they're so delicate, with all the other reasons you mention it might be difficult to count on it.

Warm Regards,


Hi Caryn

Have you ever been to the flower wholesalers at Kazerne? I loved that place - flowers everywhere at much less than you would pay at florists. Also one can talk to the dealers about what will be available. If nothing else, it is a fun outing. Also have a shop that stocks lots of wedding stuff.

Warm regards

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