Pink lady flowers, or Amaryllis belladonna, are a showy addition to the home or garden. Producing fruitily fragrant clusters of pink trumpet-like flowers on long stems, these eye-catching plants also make good cut flowers. A popular ornamental plant, if you want to grow pink lady flowers, this guide is packed with all the information that you need to cultivate these attractive bulb flowers.
This is an attractive bulb flower.
What are Pink Lady Flowers?
The Amaryllis belladonna belongs to the amaryllis genus. It is a bulbous plant that produces strappy green leaves and showy, bell-shaped blooms.
Native to the rocky areas of South Africa’s Cape provinces, Pink Lady flowers are sometimes known as naked lady flowers. This alternative name refers to the fact that the blooms and leaves develop at different points of the year. This means that unlike many plant’s that set blooms alongside the foliage, the blooms of the Amaryllis belladonna sit exposed on a bare or naked stalk above the bulb.
Thriving in hot, dry climates, Amaryllis belladonna plants are commonly found in a host of countries including New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Cuba, Portugal and the Dominican Republic. In the US the plants are a common sight in many parts of California and Texas. In fact in the favorable climes of California,
Amaryllis Belladonna freely self-sows and spreads through gardens.
Despite being largely easy to care for, pink lady is a temperamental plant. If your Amaryllis belladonna isn’t happy it is unlikely to flower. Don’t be surprised if flowering is limited or blooms are completely absent after repotting or moving the plant.
Warning. All parts of the plant are toxic to both humans and animals. Exposure can cause lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting. If you have pets, carefully select your planting position or plant in pots out of their reach. When handling the plants, always wear a long sleeved top and work gloves. Wash your hands after handling.
Where to Plant Pink Lady Flowers
It is important to identify a good spot for your Amaryllis belladonna plants. The quality of your pink lady flowers depends in part on how long the bulb is undisturbed for. Try not to repot or move the bulbs too often. This can deter or negatively impact flowering.
You can grow pink lady flowers outside in the ground, in pots and planters or as houseplants as long as they receive enough warmth and light. Outside the plants are great additions to flower beds, patios, gravel gardens and rock gardens.
Pink lady flowers are typically hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 11a. With enough shelter and a little extra care they can also be grown outside in USDA Zone 11b, however they may not bloom as frequently or as heavily.
Light and Temperature
When selecting a planting position, the most important aspect to consider is light. Pink lady flowers do best in a full sun position. Ideally the plants should receive at least 6 hours of direct sun every day.
Be careful not to expose the plant to too much midday or early afternoon sun. At this time of the day the sun is at its most intense; exposing foliage to intense sun can cause leaves to turn brown or burn.
Outside, if your soil is well-draining and sheltered you can grow pink lady flowers in the garden as far north as northern Ohio. However, the further north you grow the plants the more uncertain flowering is. In some northern areas the plants may only flower in mild years.
Finding a strain that suits your climate helps if you are growing outside. For example in Northern California Belladonna minor is commonly grown, while in Southern California Purpurea Major is preferred.
If you are growing pink lady flowers as houseplants, place them near a south-facing or sunny window.
If you are growing inside, place Amaryllis close to a sunny window.
Outside, the ideal spot should also be protected from the extreme summer heat and winter frost. Pink lady flowers tolerate heat, but not extreme heat well. They tend to struggle in colder conditions.
During the growing season the temperature should ideally average between 70 and 75 ℉. In the winter months, when the plants require at least 8 weeks rest, temperatures should be between 50 and 55 ℉. These conditions help to encourage lots of showy blooms to form.
Remember these plants need light, water and warmth when growing. When they are dormant, they prefer cool air and dry soil.
What Sort of Soil?
If you are growing pink lady flowers in pots, getting the moisture levels right is key. Make sure that you plant in well-draining soil. Allowing your pink lady flowers to sit in soggy soil can cause disease or bulb rot.
In addition to being well-draining, your soil should also not be too extreme. A neutral soil, or one that is either slightly acidic or alkaline is ideal. Working sand, loam and chalk into the soil before planting can help to improve drainage. A soil pH test quickly tells you what type of soil you have.
How to Plant Amaryllis Belladonna Bulbs
Whether you are planting in the ground or a pot the process is largely the same.
Before planting their Amaryllis bulbs, many growers like to soak the roots for 24 hours in fresh water. This helps to wake up the bulb and encourages the root system to settle and start developing more quickly. If you choose to soak the roots, be careful not to get the bulb wet.
Dig a hole in the soil slightly deeper and twice as wide as the bulb. When placed in the hole the tip of the bulb should be just above soil level.
Plant with the tip of the bulb just above soil level.
Place a handful of Jobe’s Organic Bone Meal in the hole and center the bulb.
Mix the dug out soil to a ratio of 1 part soil, 1 part compost and 1 part peat moss and backfill the hole. If you are planting a number of pink lady flowers, space the holes roughly 1 ft apart. This gives the roots space to spread and develop.
Firm down the soil mix and water well. This encourages root growth. The bulb will set roots during the fall before sprouting and flowering the following year.
Planting in Pots
If you are growing in a pot, make sure that it is large enough to comfortably hold the bulb. Planting in too small a pot can compact the roots. It also makes the plants prone to top heaviness and toppling, particularly when their 2 to 3 ft flower stalk is in full bloom. A durable Fasmov 1 gallon pot comfortably holds one pink lady plant.
Additionally, plants growing in pots require repotting once every three to four years. Bear in mind, the year after repotting flowering is often poor. The best time to repot pink lady flowers is in the fall once all the blooms have faded and the leaves start to turn brown. At this stage the plant is becoming dormant.
To repot, begin by removing the plant from its old pot. This can be a messy process. If you don’t have a potting bench lay down a few sheets of old newspaper.
Use a knife to loosen the soil around the sides of the pot. This helps to loosen the roots and soil, making removal easier. Lift the plant from the pot, taking care not to damage the root system. Brush any remaining soil from the root system.
If small bulbs are present on the mother bulb these can be removed and planted separately for new plants.
Add well-draining potting soil to the bottom third of the new pot. Place the bulb in the center of the pot, aim to plant to the same level as previously. The tip of the bulb should poke out over the soil level.
Fill in any gaps with more well-draining potting soil and water well.
How to Care for Pink Lady Flowers
In the right position pink lady flowers are pleasingly low maintenance plants. This makes it an ideal beginner plant for newbies who want to grow a showy flower.
Don’t worry if the blooms of your pink lady don’t all open at the same time. The buds are designed to flower one after the other, providing a floral display that lasts for around two months.
In the right position these showy blooms are pleasingly low maintenance.
When to Water
One of the most important aspects of caring for pink lady flowers is the watering routine. Amaryllis plants don’t require lots of water. Healthy specimens can survive prolonged periods without water. In fact, too much water can cause the bulb to rot. To prevent this water sparingly.
Aim to water regularly enough to keep the soil moist during the growing season and warmer months of the year. During the winter, when the plant is dormant, reduce watering. Plants growing outside during the winter months will receive enough water from rainfall. Pink lady flowers growing inside don’t require water during the dormant, winter period.
After watering, don’t allow the bulbs to sit in soggy soil for too long. This can lead to problems such as bulb rot developing. Planting in well draining or sandy soil and pots with ample drainage holes helps excess moisture to drain away before the bulb can become too wet.
It can be difficult to know how often to water plants. A soil moisture sensor tells you how wet your soil is, helping you to work out when to water.
When to Fertilize
In good soil, pink lady flowers happily grow without fertilizer. However I, like many growers, like to give my plants a little boost.
A dose of diluted, phosphorus rich fertilizer such as BioAdvanced All-in-one Rose and Flower Care helps to promote healthy growth and flowering. This should first be applied in the spring when the plant starts to produce new foliage. Continue to feed every two to four weeks during the spring and summer.
Pruning Pink Lady Flowers
A low maintenance plant, there is no need to prune your pink lady flowers.
Blooms can be cut from the plant when they start to fade. This prevents the plant from setting seed and encourages it to store more energy in the bulb for flowering next year.
Withering leaves and flower stalks should be cut from the plant with clean garden scissors. This helps to keep the plant healthy and encourages more fuller growth the following year.
Pink lady flowers are best planted with other plants that share similar growing preferences. You can also plant pink lady flowers alongside warm weather loving herbs such as rosemary and lavender. As well as sharing similar growing preferences these plants combine well to create an aromatic display that attracts pollinators to the garden.
How to Overwinter Amaryllis Belladonna
In colder climates pink lady flowers need some protection to help them survive the colder temperatures and frosts of winter.
Plants growing in pots can simply be moved inside in the fall, when temperatures start to cool. Larger pots can be heavy to move; particularly when filled with soil. Placing your flower pot on a GARTOL Rolling Metal Plant Caddy enables you to easily move it around your home and garden.
If your pink lady flowers are in the ground or planters, the easiest way to overwinter the bulbs is to lift them from the ground and store them inside until the following spring. To do this, wait until all the blooms have faded before cutting back the stalks to a height of roughly half an inch above the tip of the bulb.
Healthy bulbs can be stored overwinter.
Allow the leaves to remain in place. The leaves are still working, helping the bulb to gather and store energy that will help it survive the winter and flourish again next year. During this period the more light that the bulbs are exposed to the more energy they can store.
When the foliage starts to die back, cut it down to a height of 1 to 2 inches above the bulb.
Use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the bulb. Then carefully lift the bulb from the soil. Aim to lift a good section of root with the bulb. Brush away any soil that remains on the bulb and check for signs of damage.
Store the bulbs in pots in a cold, dry, dark place, such as a basement or garage for 4 to 12 weeks or until all risk of frost has passed. A temperature between 50 and 50 ℉ is ideal. During this period the bulbs are dormant and do not require light or water.
To further protect the bulbs you can wrap them in a dry mulch such as paper, dried leaves or wood chips.
In the spring, once temperatures have started to warm, replant the bulb and water well. New growth should soon emerge.
How to Propagate Pink Lady Flowers
You can propagate pink lady flowers by harvesting the offset bulbs. You can also harvest and grow these plants from seed.
As Amaryllis bulbs mature offsets, or small bulbs, form around the main, mother bulb. These can be dug up and potted on to grow into new plants. This separation is best done in the fall once the foliage has died away. If you are growing Amaryllis belladonna in pots you can harvest the offsets during the repotting process.
If your plants are growing in the ground, wait for the foliage to die back before using a shovel or garden fork to loosen the soil around the bulb. Be careful not to damage the bulb or too much of the root system.
Carefully lift the bulb clump from the ground with the fork and separate the bulbs. Plant the smaller bulbs as you would a larger bulb.
Growing from Seed
While propagation by seed is possible it is a slow process. It can take up to 6 years for plants grown from seed to begin flowering. Unlike offsets, seeds do not produce exact replicas of the parent plants.
You can either purchase seeds from garden stores and plant nurseries or harvest your own.
Seedpods start to form as the flowers fade. As they ripen the pods turn yellow and start to split. At this point you can cut the pods from the plant, placing them in a paper bag. Shake the bag to remove the seeds.
Amaryllis seeds are best sown immediately after harvest. If you can’t sow the seeds straight away, store them in a dark, cool place. Don’t forget to label and date your seeds. Seeds become less viable as they age.
Place the tray in a partial shade position. Germination takes place when temperatures average between 60 and 77 ℉. Germination takes between 2 and 10 weeks. During this period regularly moisten or mist the soil to prevent it from drying out.
In the wild, the seeds fall from the pods onto damp ground. To better increase your germination rate, try placing the seeds in a bag with damp sphagnum moss. This replicates their preferred germination conditions.
Following germination thin out the seedlings as and when necessary, repotting into individual pots when the seedlings are large enough to handle. Care for the young plants as you would mature specimens.
With the right care, plants grown from seed are ready for transplanting into the garden within a year.
Common Problems and How to Solve Them
In the right conditions, pink lady flowers are largely problem free plants. However, there are some signs that you should look out for. If spotted early enough these issues are easily solved.
Bulb rot is one of the few diseases that affects Amaryllis belladonna. Usually triggered by fungal growth, spraying Garden Safe Fungicide onto the affected area and sterilizing the soil stops the spread of the disease.
A benefit of the Amaryllis belladonna’s toxicity is that many pests avoid the plant. Bulb mites are one of the few pests that can target pink lady flowers, stunting growth and impacting on flowering. Bulb mites are more likely to attack damaged or sickly bulbs. Keep your bulbs healthy and water regularly to prevent infestations.
Caterpillars may sometimes target the blooms and foliage of your pink lady. Use tweezers to pick the pests off the plant.
These easy to care for plants rarely succumb to infestations.
If the air becomes very dry, spider mites can become a problem. Misting the foliage can deter these pests, as can dusting or wiping the leaves. If spider mite infestations become too severe, apply neem oil to the leaves.
Deer tend to avoid pink lady flowers because of their toxicity. In contrast, many pollinators are drawn to the sweet aroma of the plant.
By following the advice laid out in this guide practically anybody can successfully grow pink lady flowers. Now that you know how easy it can be, why not add an Amaryllis belladonna to your home or garden?
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.