If the idea of planting naked ladies in the garden makes you blush, think of Lycoris squamigera and Amayrllis belladonna by their botanical names. These members of the Amaryllis family have similar needs. Each produces late-winter or early spring leaves before going dormant in early summer. By summer's end, each reawakens as a leafless stalk crowned with decidedly feminine, lavender-pink trumpet flowers. Suitable for U. S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 and 7 through 10, respectively, naked ladies live for decades. Plant the toxic bulbs where curious children or digging pets can't get to them.
Preparing the Planting Bed
Prepare a planting bed for the naked ladies in fall. They need a site with excellent drainage and at least six hours of daily sun. To test your soil, dig a 12-inch-deep hole, fill it with water, and wait 30 minutes. If it hasn't drained completely, choose another area or amend the soil with a 2- to 3-inch layer of well-aged compost. Loosen the planting beds' top 6 to 8 inches and incorporate the compost with a spade or tiller. Count on using 60 to 90 pounds for each 10 square feet of soil. A 1-inch layer requires 30 pounds.
Planting the Bulbs
Dig planting holes deep enough that the round or teardrop portions of the bulbs are underground, and their papery necks, or stem ends, remain exposed. If you plant them too deeply, they may rot. Space both varieties 1 foot apart to allow for their eventual 1 1/2 - to 2-foot spread. Refill the hole with soil and then water it well to remove air pockets. If you're in a cold-winter climate, covering the bulbs with a 3-inch layer of ground bark or other organic mulch just before the ground freezes is optional.
Water newly planted naked lady bulbs only to keep the soil moist only while their roots establish before winter sets in. Later on, when they're supporting foliage or flowers, they need 1 inch, or about 6 gallons of weekly rainfall or supplemental water for each 10 square feet of soil. Stop watering during their summer dormancy and after their blooms fade in fall. The bulbs contain all the nutrients they need to support their initial rounds of leaves and flowers, so don't fertilize them during their first year.
Naked ladies establish their roots during the fall. Depending on your climate, their above-ground growth starts emerging in late winter or early spring. As the leaves begin to die back in summer, mark the area near the foliage clumps with labeled stakes so you'll remember where the bulbs are. Otherwise, you may plant summer annuals on top of them. The plants multiply by tiny bulblets that grow into full-sized plants over several years. To encourage them, spread a 1-inch layer of well-aged cow manure over the planting bed each spring.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lycoris Squamigera
- Zipcodezoo.com: Amaryllis Belladonna
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants
- EasytoGrowBulbs.com: Lycoris (Naked Ladies, Magic Lilies, Resurrection Lilies) Planting Guide
- SantaMariaTimes.com: In the Garden: Gardener's Patience Rewarded with Naked Color
- Colorado State University Extension: CMG GardenNotes -- Soil Drainage
- Colorado State University Extension: Choosing a Soil Amendment
- Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Using Organic Matter in the Garden
- Netherland Bulb Company: Bulbs -- Dig. Drop. Done.
- Lowe's: Making Watering Easier
- University of Illinois Extension: The Surprise in Surprise Lilies
- San Francisco Botanic Garden: Amaryllis Belladonna "Naked Ladies"
Passionate for travel and the well-written word, Judy Wolfe is a professional writer with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Cal Poly Pomona and a certificate in advanced floral design. Her thousands of published articles cover topics from travel and gardening to pet care and technology.