Mardi is a mediator, communication and conflict resolution trainer, consultant, and writer with a passion for nature and gardening.
There's a Naked Lady in My Pasture (No, It's Not What You Think!)
Sometimes it is hard to tell the changing of the seasons in warm climates. There certainly isn't the dramatic foliage change here in Texas that I am used to from living in Canada, but there is one sure sign that autumn has arrived that I can spot right in my own backyard and pasture. Although they are called Naked Ladies, they probably aren't what you are thinking at all!
What Are Naked Lady Flowers?
Naked Ladies, also known as Belladonna Lilies and Jersey Lilies, are some of the most unique plants I have found. They are actually the only true type of Amaryllis, Amaryllis belladonna to be exact, and they are really spectacular in their presentation. Although found over the southern part of the United States both in wild areas as well as gardens, they are actually natives of South Africa.
How Did They Get That Name?!
The Naked Ladies are so named because of their appearance, which is well—naked. In Greek mythology, Amaryllis was a shepherdess, and the term belladonna means a beautiful woman or lady. They have a long, flesh-colored to tan-colored stalk that supports a group of individual flowers, all set horizontally to form a circular shape.
The leaves of the plant are very evident in the spring and summer months and resemble the leaves of liriope, just minus the flowers. The particular variety in my pasture has a dark green color leaf bunch and grows about six to ten inches in length. In the mid to late part of summer the foliage dies back, then in the late summer and early fall, the stalks and flowers emerge.
What Do the Blooms Look Like?
The flowers are beautiful and vary in color from a lighter pink with darker centers to a deep reddish coral color with slightly peach centers and stamens. There are many varieties of this plant that are cultivated for growing in pots and containers and they can range in color from yellow to pinks and into the darker colors as well. Although not as showy as the Christmas Amaryllis, which is actually a different species known as Hippeastrum, the Naked Lady is really a beautiful addition to the garden.
These Flowers Are a Sure Sign of Fall
In my area of northeast Texas, the fall rains and slightly cooler temperatures seem to trigger the bulbs to send forth the stalks and flowers. They spring up almost magically overnight, resulting in a dramatic color change.
Growing the Amaryllis Belladonna Plant in the Garden
The Naked Lady is a bulb type of plant that can also be grown from seed. Bulbs are definitely the best option if you want to see results one to two years after planting; seeds can take up to seven to nine years before flowers finally start to show. They do best in well-drained soil in full sun; however, they can handle partial sun as well.
Care and Maintenance Tips for Bulbs
- Moving: Move established bulbs only when not actively growing either roots or flowers, so generally right after the flowers die is the best time. Moving them any other season results in a slow down of their growth and lack of flowering for several years.
- Planting: Since the bulbs are most spectacular in bunches, they are typically planted in groups of five or more bulbs that are spread out over about a square foot of space. The bulbs should be placed in well-drained soil at a depth of about two to four inches, surrounded by peat moss and soil mixture.
- Watering: During the spring and summer, they need routine watering once a week; however, they should not be soaked or kept constantly wet during this time as the bulbs can actually rot. After the leaves die off, cut back on watering as the bulbs need to dry out in order to produce flowers.
- Fertilizing: During the foliage phase, you can fertilize if desired; however, with a good mulch cover each fall, this is not generally necessary.
- Winter Preparation: Once the stalks emerge, water twice a week until the flowers die off. Do not fertilize at this time. Cover the ground with a good quality mulch to help with moisture retention and preparation for winter. In moderate climates, the bulbs can remain outdoors; however, they cannot tolerate long freezes and will need to come indoors in colder growing zones.
They Add Color and Elegance to the Garden
Since they literally grow everywhere here, in the pastures, ditches, around old buildings, and, of course, where you plant them, they are very popular fall flower additions. While they don't make a good cut flower, they certainly do add color to the garden and really add a touch of elegance to fall foliage changes.
More Information on Naked Ladies
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Read More From Dengarden
LuLusquest on August 29, 2015:
WOW! I just found another candidate that I knew nothing about. Brunsvigia Marginata...but the bud is totally different from the Amaryllis or Nerine and flowers are in a tighter cluster. Still interesting to know there are so many look-a-likes in the same family.
LuLusquest on August 29, 2015:
Mardi...I hope this comment doesn't prove arguementative, but you might consider that your flowers are not Amaryllis', but Nerine (pronounced Ner-eye-knee) sarniensis. I have both growing in my garden. The Amaryllis' are up now. No sign of the Nerines yet, but they were prolific last year. The orange one I have is like tangerine and a shorty...however, could be because I found it in a vacant lot and we have been in severe drought here for about 4 years. There is one kind of Nerine that blooms with it's leaves and I have that one as well. What do you think? Check out what the blooms look like on google. Their general growing characteristics are the same as the Amaryllis. Sorry if I have been annoying.
Bobbie Den Herder on April 22, 2013:
The naked ladies also grow in Arkansas... But are called Spider lilles!
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on February 14, 2012:
I think they did say Collie now that you say it. Thanks for getting back to me. Your dog's a cutie pie.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on February 14, 2012:
That is our Barak. To the best of our guess he is a Lab Border Collie cross. He is about 3 years old now and weighs close to 75 pounds. He herds, fetches and is obsessed with his tennis ball which he carries everywhere with him. I need to find a newer picture to update!
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on February 13, 2012:
I forgot to mention in my comment that your puppy in the profile picture looks just like our two year old dog Spooky. Same size and white under the tummy. We don't know what mix she is because they weren't sure at the humane society. What is your black lab mix? We'd love to know.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on February 11, 2012:
Thanks for catching that - an editor I ain't!!! Thanks for your comments and for stopping by.
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on February 10, 2012:
Hee Hee- I too thought this may be about ladies with no clothes. LOL. Great information on this beautiful flower. It's amazing how colorful these lilies become. Great photo's too. Also, just to let you know, you wrote, 'move' information instead of 'more' at the end of your hub.
I hit many buttons on this informative hub.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on January 01, 2012:
Hello deesat and NotTooTall,
Thank you both for your comments. I love that story of your gandsons deesat, imagine it raised some eyebrows in the car!.
NotTooTall, I heard them called magic lilies this year for the first time so I bet you are right.
NotTooTall from The Land of Pleasant Living on December 27, 2011:
I enjoyed reading your Hub. I think these are what my Grandmom grew years ago, whoch she called 'magic lily'. So pretty! Thank you.
N T T
deesat on December 16, 2011:
Another comment about the name...my grandsons 9 and 11 loved watching for the Naked Ladies as we drove through town. They would shout out.."Oh, there's another Naked Lady" but the funniest is when they spotted them at a church. We all got a chuckle as they shouted "There's a Naked Lady at church!".
bjg on August 27, 2011:
where can i purchase bulbs shown above naked ladies?
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on May 24, 2011:
Many thanks for your kind comment Movie Master. I love these flowers in the fall almost as much as I look forward to the Irises and Jonquils in the spring.
Movie Master from United Kingdom on May 19, 2011:
Hi Mardi Unusual name for a very unusual flower, really enjoyed reading about your naked ladies, thank you.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on April 14, 2011:
Yes, you can dig them up and they will do well in a plant sale I am sure. Just make sure to let people know they may not flower this fall but should do so next year. They can definitely be spread by seeds but they also spread, at least around here according to some people, from wild hogs eating the bulbs and (how shall I put this politely?) depositing them around. I don't know if that last part is true but it makes sense when you see them way out in the middle of the woods.
Carol on April 12, 2011:
We have these beautiful flowers but now they are place we did not expect them. How do they spread? Seeds blowing? Can I dig them up for the Garden Club Plant Sale? Thank you.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on September 26, 2010:
When I transplanted a bunch of these they did absolutely nothing the first full year. Remember the true naked ladies bloom in the FALL, not the spring. You might want to mark where you planted the bulbs so you don't accidentally dig them up, then you should see growth and flowering next year about this time. The first year perhaps only a few of the bulbs will flower, but they will produce larger and more profuse flowers each year. I just noticed a few starting to show up in people's flower beds this week. Mine haven't even peeked through the ground.
You should see thin leaves or spikes come up in the spring, don't be alarmed when they die off mid-summer, that is just the plant preparing to flower. Water normally over the summer but don't soak the soil on a continual basis, allow it to dry to prevent rot.
Hope that helps!
Marti on September 25, 2010:
My neighbor just gave me several bulbs and I planted them right away. Do you have to do anything to them, or will they just pop up in the spring?
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on September 06, 2010:
Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I think that it is probably too cold in the winter (well the summer too!) for these in England. I had never seen them in Canada either so they were really different that first autumn down here. The Naked Ladies should be just popping their heads out here in the next month, with the very hot summer this year I assume they will be later than usual.
Juliette Morgan on September 05, 2010:
What beautiful flowers - I'm in the UK and have never seen these - great photos and good information, thanks.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on March 30, 2010:
Thanks Dolores, they seem to grow in a wide variety of places and are very hardy for such strange looking flowers.
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on March 29, 2010:
Mardi, I've seen something like this growing in Maryland, not wild but planted. They look so curious, popping up without any real visible foliage, like surprises! So pretty. I did not know what they were called.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on November 04, 2009:
I think you should be able to grow these in BC (checked your profile!) I used to live in Fort Langley and my neighbor had some variety of these in her potted patio containers, think she just brought the bulbs in over winter. You might want to check an online nursery for availability.
Carmen Borthwick from Maple Ridge, B.C. on October 31, 2009:
I tried to bring one home with me... but you know the rules! I pressed one in a book but unfortunately it just molded. Ah well, I have lots of pics!
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on October 01, 2009:
Carmen, they are really beautiful, I had never heard of them until I moved down here to Texas. I also didn't realize they were in California so thanks for that.
R P Chapman, thanks for your comment and glad you stopped by.
Carmen Borthwick from Maple Ridge, B.C. on September 28, 2009:
Thanks, I discovered these beautiful flowers (and their name) while on a road trip down the California coast a couple of years ago. They are amazing and grow wild everywhere you look.
R P Chapman from England on September 28, 2009:
Very eye catching title there! Learned something new too so thanks.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on September 27, 2009:
Thanks Jerilee, these are one of my favorite flowers, although I also enjoy the spring jonquils and the wild iris.
Jerilee Wei from United States on September 27, 2009:
I too only knew them as Spider Lilies, great hub!
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on September 26, 2009:
Thank you for that. I didn't know they also were called Spider Lilies. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Mr.C on September 25, 2009:
We have these in Georgia also. Everyone calls them "Spider Lilies". They grow in pastures here too. Thanks for those great photos. We Seniors enjoy seeing them. Come visit me.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on September 24, 2009:
Thanks Peggy, I haven't seen them down around Houston but they are common in Dallas and surrounding areas. I love the large Christmas amaryllis as well, have successfully transplanted the bulbs in the spring and had them flower in the garden for several years. Each year I add another one and they do spread.
Herald Daily, thanks for the very witty comment! They really are a beautiful flower, especially since they are most colorful in the autumn when other flowers are slowing down.
You aren't the only one to think this is about something else Sweetie Pie. If I ever have real naked ladies in my pasture I will do hub on that as well (LOL)!
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on September 24, 2009:
Very pretty flowers, but at first I thought this hub was about something else lol. Clever title.
Herald Daily from A Beach Online on September 24, 2009:
Your naked ladies are beautiful, Mardi. Thank-you for exposing them to us. :)
Like Peggy, I had no idea that amaryllis could grow in pastures! The only kind that I have any experience with are those in the pot that you get at Christmas.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 24, 2009:
Wow! These are beautiful flowers. You are so fortunate to be able to see them blooming in your pastures. I was totally unfamiliar with this type of amaryllis. Thanks for the education.
Mardi Winder-Adams (author) from Western Canada and Texas on September 24, 2009:
Thanks fortunerep, they are a lovely flower, even if they do have a rather strange name.
Dori S Matte from Hillsborough on September 23, 2009:
what a beautiful flower!! Thanks goodness, I thought it was going to be actually baer naked ladies!!