Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Naked Ladies" Bloom in August

"Naked Ladies" Bloom in August
 "Naked lady" leaves are lying dormant and brown near my pump house wall and along the edges of the mobile home we rent out. In August, though, they will reemerge and shoot up for all to see.  After a period in summer where they look almost dead, the "naked ladies" bloom  in August  on the Central Coast of California. 

They are a tradition for me. I was introduced to them when I was but a toddler, since they grew in the yard of the first home I remember. That was my childhood home in Bellflower, California, where my dad had a large vegetable garden, fruit trees that spoiled me forever after by letting me taste peaches, plums, and apricots fresh off the tree, and a fence that acted as a trellis for climbing berries. It was also the house where my dad raised chickens when I was little.

The naked lady flower’s scientific name is Brunsvigia rosea. It is better known as the Amaryllis belladonna.  It likes a warm, dry summer, such as those we have in southern and central California, though it’s native to South Africa.  In fall and winter it produces a clump of green, wide, ribbon-like leaves that are rather floppy.  It resembles a green fountain.  In this photo taken in mid-April, the leaves are still green, but the plants have had no care this year and were overgrown with weeds.

"Naked Ladies" Bloom in August
Amaryllis Leaves in April, © B. Radisavljevic


When the weather gets dry, the leaves die. Just about the time you think the plant is dead, about August here, up pop bare stems that have clusters of fragrant pink trumpet-shaped flowers at the top.  The photo at the top focuses on just the flower.  The photo below shows the naked stems, as well. The top flowers have already faded and are trying to form seeds. I had to cut them to prevent that after all flowers had bloomed.

"Naked Ladies" Bloom in August
Amaryllis Flowers in Bloom, © B. Radisavljevic


Amaryllis flowers are great for drought resistant gardens. I had planned to divide these and dig out some bulbs when they finished blooming and plant them in my Paso Robles garden for added color, but I didn't get around to it.

Amaryllis plants prefer to grow in well-drained soil and all their water needs are met by the winter rains. That fits the description of my side yard pretty well. Maybe next year I'll get them planted.

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"Naked Ladies" Bloom in August
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