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How to grow Jersey lilies (Amaryllis belladonna)

Tiffany Daneff / 20 March 2018

Find out how to grow Jersey lilies, or Amaryllis belladonna, for beautiful autumn flowers on long, elegant stems.

Jersey lilies (Amaryllis belladonna)
Jersey lilies (Amaryllis belladonna)

The Jersey Lily (Amaryllis belladona) is also known as the belladonna lily or naked lady. This is not the same plant as the hippeastrum, that dramatic indoor bulb sold at Christmas and often mistakenly called amaryllis.

Amaryllis belladonna is a perennial bulbous plant that grows wild in South Africa, where you can find the exotic and beautiful stems popping up in open grasslands and hillsides. The flowers appear in all shades of pink and sometimes even white. The leaves appear after the flowers. Amaryllis belladonna copes well with extremes of temperature. In summer the dormant bulbs are baked by the Cape sun. Autumn rains bring out the delicately scented gorgeous trumpet shaped flowers in late summer and autumn. This is one of those plants that always stop visitors in their tracks. It is a great garden plant and was given an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the RHS.

Visit our Home and Garden section for gardening guides, home improvement tips and much more.

Jersey lilies in brief

Height: 1 – 2ft (30 - 60cm)
Spread: 5 - 6 inches to 12-15cm
Flowers: September/October

Where to grow Jersey lilies

These frost hardy bulbs can be grown outside in Britain but they don’t like really bad wet winters so avoid planting in frost pockets and exposed areas.

Ideally plant Amaryllis belladonna in the shelter of a warm wall where they will clump up nicely.

Jersey lilies look good in gravel gardens and in borders but make sure they aren’t shaded by bigger plants in the summer when the dormant bulbs need to bake in the sun to bulk up energy and put on a good show in the autumn.

If you live in a very cold part of the country you may need to grow them in pots or in glasshouses.

When to plant Jersey lilies

Plant bulbs in spring for the plants flower in the autumn.

How to plant Jersey lilies

Jersey lilies don’t like being wet so if your soil is not light and fertile improve drainage by digging in lots of grit or you can plant the bulbs on top of a mound of grit.

Plant the bulbs just below the soil or, in areas with bad winters, plant at four or five inches deep to help protect against the cold.

How to care for garden grown plants

To produce fine flowers the bulbs need a hot and dry dormant spell in the summer and will be happiest where they can be baked by the sun.

After flowering protect the plants from the worst of the winter cold by covering with a good few inches of straw or similar material.

Let the flowers and foliage die down naturally.

Feed with a handful of bonemeal in spring.

How to care for pot-grown bulbs

The key is to avoid overwatering.

Water the plants more as they come into growth, adding a liquid feed, and keep feeding and watering until the leaves start to die.

Allow the plants their hot, dry summer baking.

Only repot when they are so congested that they don’t flower so well.

Pests and diseases

Pretty disease free but watch out: slugs love them and can ruin your display. Indoor bulbs can be attacked by mites.

Bulbs can sometimes be damaged by the large narcissus bulb fly which lays its eggs inside bulbs but this should not be a problem if you buy firm, good quality bulbs.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.