The Amaryllis Belladonna, otherwise known as the Belladonna Lily or Naked Lady is native to South Africa, particularly the rocky southwest region near the Cape. The Amaryllis Belladonna is a bulb plant from which leaves are produced in autumn or early spring in warmer climates. These leaves will then die down until late summer when this plant will flower. The flowers are generally a vibrant pink color and there are no leaves along with the flower, thus the name, Naked Lady! These beautiful plants do not tolerate frost and do best when planted in US Hardiness Zones 8-10 and can also do well in zone 7 with some good winter mulching. Each bulb produces one or two stems which will then produce 2-12 flowers at the top. These flowers should not be confused with Hippeastrum which are generally sold in the winter months because they will bloom indoors in winter. These flowers are not of the same genus as the Amaryllis Belladonna.

Before I give you tips on planting these beautiful flowers, I need to tell you that the bulbs (not the leaves or flowers!) of the Amaryllis Belladonna are poisonous when ingested. They have to be ingested in fairly large quantities in order for there to be any adverse affects, but if you have children or pets that like to dig up and eat your bulbs, I would avoid this plant altogether!

The first thing you will need to attend to when planting this flower is the soil. It would be worth your while to mix some good fertilizer or compost into the soil a week to ten days before you are going to plant. Fertilizing deep into the soil is also a good idea, even up to 18 inches! It may seem like a lot of work right now, but it will pay off later! You will then want to plant this bulb in the late fall or early in the winter so that they have optimum time to get settled into their new home and put some roots down. You will want to choose an area that gets full sun or at least morning shade and afternoon sun. This area should be higher than the ground around it as to drain off any excess moisture after a heavy rain because these bulbs are sensitive to over-watering and can rot with too much moisture. Plant the bulbs 6-12 inches apart. Dig a hole deep enough so that the top 1/3 of bulb will be above the soil! Once the hole is dug, put a small amount of bone meal fertilizer in the bottom and then cover with a layer of dirt so that the bulb does not come into direct contact with the fertilizer. The bulb should be placed into the hole with the pointed end, or "top", up. If you cannot tell which end is the top, plant the bulb on it's side. Fill in the dirt up to the "neck" of the bulb (remembering to leave the top portion exposed) and lightly hand tamp the soil.

Immediately after planting, give the bulbs a thorough watering and then two times per week throughout the winter months when it is dry. In the summer, water them when the top soil feels dry. Spread a three inch thick layer of shredded pine bark or wood chips around the plants, but keep it from touching the main stalks. After this point, you've pretty much done all you need to do except water them!

If you find you're having problems with pests such as gophers or squirrels, you can try some of the following to protect your garden: Sprinkle red pepper flakes in the holes before planting or on the ground after, cover the bulbs with chicken wire and the flowers will just bloom through it, surround the plants with sharp gravel, or plant a rodent-repelling flower nearby, such as the Fritillaria. You can also plant these flowers in a large 5 gallon-like bucket and winter them indoors if you live in a climate with a cold winter. Don't forget the most important gardening tip of all; enjoy what you're doing and let it calm and relax you! Gardening is meant to be a cathartic experience and can release a lot of stress if done in the proper frame of mind. Happy planting!