University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
NAKED LADIES AMONG YOUR HOUSEPLANTS?
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
As you might guess, Naked Ladies actually refers to a flower. It
very closely related to what we know as the Amaryllis—bulbs most
commonly bought or given over the holidays as they make an easy-to-grow
flowering indoor plant.
As choices in plant stores and catalogs expand, you may find either
bulb. The true Amaryllis (Amaryllis
belladonna) may also be called
Belladona Lily in addition to Naked Ladies. The latter name comes
the fact the stalk appears with blooms before any leaves. In
words, it is “naked.” The scientific term for such blooms before leaves
What we usually know as the Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)
usually blooms with
leaves, and has been bred to have large flowers in many selections, and
in many colors. One species of this (puniceum) is sometimes called the
Barbados Lily, indicating its origin. While the true amaryllis is
native to South Africa, this one we call "amaryllis" is native to South
Often these bulbs are found now in “kits”, either with ingredients or
already planted. All you need do is assemble them according to
directions, and just add water. As with any bulb, don’t keep them
wet or they will rot.
If you have just a bulb, pot it in a container just slightly
Or you may want to put three in an even larger container. Don't
too large a container as amaryllis like to be slightly crowded. Use a
standard houseplant potting medium-- one containing a large amount of
peat moss and no soil.
Next put the pot in a cool (50 to 65 degree), dark location. This
should stimulate the bulb to produce roots, before the shoots.
on it weekly to make sure it hasn’t dried out. When you see a
two or three inches high, you then can move it into the light.
Since bulbs are self-contained packages, containing much food for the
season, they don’t need much fertilizer. You may fertilize
lightly—about half strength of your normal houseplant fertilizer.
can fertilize in this amount every couple weeks, especially while the
plant is in bloom. It often takes about six to eight weeks to
from the time you see the shoots emerge from the bulb.
After bloom, keep up with the water and fertilizer, just as you would
your other houseplants. In summer, after frosts (these bulbs and
leaves are tropical, and so quite tender), you can move the pots
outdoors into part sun or shade. Placing them in full sun may
leaves to burn and turn brown.
Be sure and move the pots back indoors before the first fall
Stop fertilizing and water less. Leaves should start dying back,
which point you can cut them off. Place the pots in a dark place
again, and leave them alone! They are dormant and need a rest for
few weeks. Check weekly, and later in the fall when you see a new
shoot emerging, start watering and treating as when you first got
With proper care, the true amaryllis and the one we call amaryllis, are
easy to grow. They often last and rebloom for many years, making
a good value and a good investment.
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