Contrary to what its name might suggest, the ‘naked’ lady lily is a plant of mysteries. Known for its bold and bright blooms that grow without any leaves, naked lady flowers are prized amongst gardeners who want to add a pop of color and uplift the aura of their green piece of land.
The fact that more than 10 million bulbs of naked lady flowers are sold every year in the US alone is enough to make one wonder what is so special about these blooms. But unless you have never seen one of these exquisitely gorgeous flowers in full bloom, you probably already know what the hype is all about.
They are fancy, they are fragrant, and they look simply stunning regardless of where and how they are planted.
If you are looking for ways to spruce up your garden with minimal efforts, look no further than planting naked ladies flowers.
Read on to find more about this unique species of flowering plants. The article covers the different types of naked lady lilies as well as a lot of other useful information about these beauties.
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About Naked Lady Flowers
The botanical name for naked lady flowers is amaryllis or to be more specific, amaryllis belladonna.
Amaryllis refers to the genus of bulbous flowering plants in the Amaryllidaceae family. The genus consists of two main subgroups of which amaryllis belladonna is the more widely known species.
Originating from the Western Cape region in South Africa, this species consists of plants that produce clusters of brightly colored flowers. During the fall and winter season, these plants are laden with green foliage featuring long and strappy leaves. The lively green leaves wither away by the arrival of spring. In their place emerge showy blooms that look a lot like lilies – except the fact that unlike true lilies, flowers of amaryllis belladonna are far more richly colored and grow on bare, leafless stalks. The exposed stalks of this plant during bloom time are what inspired the rather strange name ‘naked lady flower.’ [Source: American Meadows]
Note that the botanical name ‘amaryllis’ is also used for the cultivars of Hippeastrum – a genus of over 500 different species of herbaceous bulbous plants that are valued for their ability to provide indoor color during the winter months. To distinguish the hybrids from the genus Amaryllis, scientists and botanists use the term amaryllis belladonna for the original variety.
Although they are not related to the true lily (scientific name: Lilium), common names for amaryllis belladonna often include a ‘lily’ at the end. For instance, Easter lily, Jersey Lily, and Surprise Lily are all types of amaryllis belladonna or in other words, naked lady lily or simply naked lady flowers.
According to the Victorian Language of Flowers, amaryllis means pride.
Types of Naked Lady Flowers
Jersey Lily, also known as belladonna lily is a type of naked lady flower that is native to the Cape Province in South Africa. It is highly popular as an ornamental plant owing to its large and fancy blooms. The Jersey Lily features a bulbous plant with long and narrow leaves. It is a perennial plant which means that Jersey Lily generally lives for at least two years on an average. During late summer, the plant sheds all its foliage and produces trumpet-shaped flowers. These flowers can measure up to 10 cm long and grow in clusters of 2 to 12 blooms borne on completely leafless stems. The flower color is pale pink. The tips of the petals are slightly darker than the center and it is this graduation in the pink hues that make the flowers look simply breathtaking. Bloom time remains all through summer before leaves start appearing again in autumn.
The common name for Jersey Lily in the Azores, Portugal is Meninas Para Escola which literally translates to ‘girls going to school.’ It is believed that the variety was so named because the pink flowers resemble the young school girls in the local community (their school uniform is pink in color).
Jersey Lily is a low-maintenance plant and will grow well in most soil types. However, in colder regions, you might have to mulch during the winter season. The bulbs of Jersey Lily can tolerate drought conditions and are a common sight in South Africa where you can easily spot them growing in rocky regions.
Lycoris squamigera whose common names include surprise lily, magic lily or the resurrection lily is a really stunning plant in the amaryllis family. The variety got its name owing to the fact that these plants have the tendency to pop up in seemingly strange places or in the middle of nowhere. In its native regions in Japan and China, you can see lycoris squamigera standing gracefully in meadows, beside roadways as well as in home gardens and garden centers.
However, some people have the viewpoint that the species was so named because at times it doesn’t bloom in the expected season, hence, the element of ‘surprise.’
Surprise lily is a herbaceous plant that flowers excessively from mid to late summer. It consists of plain, basal leaves that first appear in early spring. The lively green foliage flourishes throughout spring and early summer before it starts to wither away but the month of June. The long strap-like leaves then bid farewell altogether, promising to return next year. Once the leaves have fallen off, tiny little blooms start appearing in their place. In less than a week after the last leaf has fallen off, the elongated stalks are adorned with white or light pink flowers that are quite strongly scented. The blooms, which make great cut flowers, grow in clumps of 6 to 8 blooms on leafless stalks that can measure up to 2 feet tall. Note that parts of surprise lilies can be poisonous if ingested.
These naked lady lilies are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 11. You can plant surprise lilies near borders, walkway or anywhere else on their own for a truly majestic look.
Red Spider Lily
If you are one of those gardeners who love the delicate beauty of lilies but don’t like cleaning up the lanky foliage that they leave behind, then planting red spider lilies is the next best option that you can go for.
Although unrelated to lilies itself, this red-flower-producing variety in the amaryllis family is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful garden plants in the world.
Spider lilies are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 11. Their foliage consists of neat strips of green leaves that can typically grow up to 18 inches long. In early autumn, the plants start flowering. Their stalks, which can reach up to 3 feet high, become laden with bright red flowers that are shaped like a funnel. Although they put up an amazing floral show, the spider lilies last for around ten days only. But the breathtaking view they provide is well worth the efforts of caring for the plant all year round.
To take the beauty of spider lilies to the next level, pair them with long-lived perennials such as tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and the likes.
Easter lilies are native to the southern regions of Japan but such is the attractiveness of these flowers that more than 95% of all Easter Lilies are now nurtured in the states of Oregon and California. Like most of the other varieties, this type of naked lady lilies is also famous for its eye-catching blooms. However, what sets it apart from other species is the pure white flower color.
Easter lilies can grow over 3 feet tall and bloom excessively from early summer to the end of June or July. This makes them perfect for use in Easter holiday decorations, which is believed to be the reason why they are named Easter lilies. The flower of this amaryllis variety features around five white petals that are joined together at the base, giving the bloom an inverted trumpet-like appearance. Delicate white stamens with yellow sacs of pollen grains further highlight the exquisite beauty of this flower.
It’s easy to brighten up your backyard with Easter lilies. You can pick a potted plant from a flower shop or contact your nearest garden center for bulbs, tubers or rhizomes of Easter lilies that you can nurture yourself.
March lily, also known as belladonna lily originally comes from the Western Cape. Although it’s not a very high-maintenance plant, it is, however, difficult to grow March lily in most areas. It will perform well only if the soil is well draining.
This type of naked lady lily is drought tolerant and mostly prefers dry areas. You can see it in certain parts of Australia as well as in some southwestern US states such as California. In fact, March lily is a wildly successful plant in California during the month of August. You will see it lining the front yards of various houses as well as in parks, outside cafés, and other similar places.
It is prized for its bright pink flowers that rest elegantly atop thin, purplish-pink leafless stalks. From February to April, the plant produces dense clusters of bell-shaped flowers that can vary in color. The shade of these inflorescences ranges from baby pink to intense rose-pink hues. Each bunch of flowers comprises of two to ten richly scented blooms. Since the stems are completely void of leaves, they further accentuate the pink charm of the flowers with their own purple tones.
March lily can be propagated in the garden from seeds as well as through the division of tubers and bulbs. The plant shows dormancy during the summer season but comes back to life as soon as winter arrives. Young green leaves begin to sprout, bringing life to the garden even though summer has ended. Planting a group of March lilies in your front or backyard is the perfect way to say ‘see you next year, summer!’
Native to South Africa, the amaryllis paradisicola is a bulbous perennial that is hardly found in home gardens. It is the second of the two subgroups in the amaryllis family, the other being amaryllis belladonna itself.
Amaryllis paradisicola does not grow outside of its native region and can only be seen in the Richtersveld National Park near Vioolsdrif, Northern Cape. It is considered to be an endangered species due to the damage caused by baboons. These types of naked lady flowers grow in a ring-like cluster of ten to twenty blooms which are initially purplish-pink in color but can become darker as they mature. Amaryllis paradisicola flowers in early autumn as it prefers relatively cool soil temperatures.
While the name might sound misleading, a naked lady flower stands really gracefully in the garden. Vibrant, ornamental blooms resting delicately at the pinnacle of long and slender, leafless stalks, these plants surely provide a fascinating sight. Seed some in your garden or if you are really eager to see different types of naked lady flowers dance in your own backyard, you can obtain mature plants directly from your local garden centers as well.