Naked Ladies are amongst the most distinctive flowers that you can grow in your garden. Popular for their bright flowers, and surprising lack of foliage, these exotic ornamentals are an increasingly popular choice for people looking to introduce color to a green landscape or otherwise plain flower bed. Further adding to the attraction, Naked Ladies showy flowers are also fragrant.
Naked Ladies are both versatile and attractive, making them ideal for many different types of gardens. If you want to learn more about these attractive flowers, this article is designed to highlight some of the most attractive varieties. As well as exploring different varieties of Naked Ladies, we will also provide you with useful care and planting tips, enabling you to get the best out of your plants.
These attractive flowers get their name because the flowers sit on otherwise empty stems.
What are Naked Ladies?
An Amaryllis plant, Naked Ladies are part of the Amaryllis Belladonna genus.
The name Amaryllis is used to categorize a genus of bulbous flowering plants that belong to the Amaryllidaceae family. This genus consists of 2 main subgroups. The Amaryllis Belladonna is the more widely known and cultivated of the two.
While the Amaryllis Belladonna is the main subgroup of the two, the second, Amaryllis Paradisicola, is just as attractive. Rarely grown outside its native region, Amaryllis Paradisicola plants can be found growing throughout the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa’s Northern Cape. Considered an endangered species, due to damage by baboons and other creatures, Amaryllis Paradisicola flowers form in ring-like clusters of 10 to 20 blooms. Initially purple-pink in color, the flowers darken as they mature. Preferring cool soil, Amaryllis Paradisicola plants usually flower in early fall.
Like Amaryllis Paradisicola, Naked Ladies originate in South Africa. A native of the Western Cape, Amaryllis Belladonna plants can be easily identified by the clusters of bright lily-like flowers that they produce.
The name Naked Lady refers to the plant’s habit of producing flowers on otherwise exposed stalks. Because of their showy, lily-like flowers the plants are also known as Easter Lilies, Surprise Lilies or Jersey Lilies. Despite these common names they are not a true lily, Lilium, plant.
During the fall and winter months the plants retain their long, green foliage. As the spring temperatures start to warm up the foliage dies back. Once the foliage has died away, showy flowers start to form on otherwise bare, leaf-free stems. Naked Ladies are unusual in that they flower when the bulb is dormant. As the flowers fade, the bulb reawakens and foliage starts to emerge.
Now that we have established what Naked Ladies are, here are some of the most commonly grown, eye-catching cultivars.
1 Easter Lily
One of the most attractive Naked Ladies, the Easter Lily is native to the southern areas of Japan. Thanks to the attraction of their showy flowers these plants are now commonly cultivated in many parts of California and Oregon.
Pure white flowers stand out in any flower bed or planting scheme.
Reaching over 3 ft in height, the pure white flowers form in early summer and can last, with the right care, until the fall. The flowers of these Naked Ladies typically have 5 white petals which are joined at the base to give a trumpet-ike appearance. The early flowering habit of the Easter Lily has helped to make it a popular choice for floral Easter decorations, hence its name.
Like other types of Naked Ladies, as the flowers of the Easter Lily fade, foliage develops providing long lasting greenery. In mixed planting schemes this can be used to showcase other, later flowering plants.
2 Jersey Lily
Popular for its large, showy flowers the Jersey Lily is native to the Cape Province of South Africa.
Like the other flowers on our list, the Jersey Lily is an attractive ornamental. A bulbous plant, once flowering has finished long, narrow foliage develops. Hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 10, gardeners in colder climates will need to protect the plants over winter.
During the late summer months the foliage fades and pale pink, trumpet-shaped flowers develop. These can measure just under 4 inches long when fully open. Typically the flowers develop in clusters of between 2 and 12, adding to the dramatic floral effect.
While the flowers may look uniform in color, upon closer inspection you will notice that the petals darken as they reach the tip. This graduation adds to the visual impact that the Jersey Lily provides. The flowers of the Jersey Lily last throughout the summer months, eventually fading as the foliage returns.
The Jersey Lily is a popular, long lasting cultivar.
The Jersey Lily is one of the most reliable Naked Ladies cultivars on our list. A low maintenance plant, these flowers grow well in most soil types. Once established, Jersey Lily plants tolerate drought conditions well. During the winter months, growers in colder regions may need to mulch around the plants or cover them with an Agribon Frost Blanket to protect the bulbs from the harmful effects of exposure to cold temperatures.
As well as an attractive addition to mixed flower beds and container gardens, you can also plant Jersey Lilies in rock gardens, mirroring the rocky regions of South Africa where they grow wild.
3 March Lily
Also known as the Belladonna Lily, the March Lily is native to the Western Cape of South Africa. A low maintenance specimen, these Naked Ladies favor well draining soil. Like many bulb flowers, March Lilies struggle and the bulbs may start to rot if the soil is too wet.
Once established the March Lily, like other types of Amaryllis Belladonna, is a pleasingly drought tolerant plant. This makes it a good choice for gardeners in dry areas such as California.
Popular for its bright pink flowers that sit on impossibly thin purple-pink stalks, the March Lily typically flowers from February to April. During this time, dense clusters of bell shaped blooms sit on top of the otherwise exposed stems. The flowers can vary in color from rich rose pinks to pale baby pink blooms. Each cluster, typically 2 to 10 in number, is highly scented, further adding to the attraction. As the flowers fade the plants enter a period of summer dormancy before the foliage returns in the fall.
Like other types of Naked Ladies, the March Lily can be propagated from seed or by dividing mature tubers.
Bright pink flowers bring warmth and color to a flower bed.
4 Red Spider Lily
One of the latest flowering types of Amaryllis Belladonna, the Red Spider Lily typically flowers in late summer or early fall. When in bloom, bright red, funnel shaped flowers sit on stalks up to 3 ft tall. Not a long lasting plant, the red flowers of this attractive cultivar typically last for 10 days before fading. However, the visual impact of the brief display more than makes up for its short lifespan.
When not flowering, the Red Spider Lily plant produces neat strips of long green foliage. These leaves can measure up to 18 inches in length. Commonly planted with long lasting perennials such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, the Red Spider Lily is a great way to add drama to the garden.
Hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 10, in cooler climates the Red Spider Lily requires protection from cold spells. Specimens planted in pots can simply be moved inside or undercover during the winter months. If you have large or heavy pots, placing them on a Metal Plant Caddy makes moving an easy task.
The Red Spider Lily is a distinctive cultivar.
5 Surprise Lily
The Surprise Lily is a herbaceous plant that, like other Naked Ladies, flowers throughout the summer months. Also known as the Resurrection Lily, this is one of the most attractive members of the Amaryllis family.
The name Surprise Lily refers to the plant’s habit of popping up in seemingly random locations, often in the middle of nowhere. Native to various parts of China and Japan, the Surprise Lily is a common sight in meadows, gardens and along roadsides.
In early spring, the Surprise Lily develops basal leaves. These are followed by the emergence of more green foliage throughout the spring and early summer months. As the long leaves start to wither and fall away, flowers begin to form. Highly fragrant, the flowers of the Surprise Lily are typically white or pale pink. A great cut flower cultivar, the stalks, which bear clusters of 6 to 8 blooms, can reach up to 2 ft providing both flower beds and floral displays with both height and structure.
A mix of pink and white hues adds further interest to these already eye-catching flowers.
With the right care, the Surprise Lily is considered hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 11.
How to Plant and Care for Naked Ladies
As we have already noted Amaryllis Belladonna cultivars are attractive, low maintenance plants. Most varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 7 to 10. However, with a little extra care, the plants can also be cultivated as perennials in USDA Zones 4 and warmer. In cooler climates planting slightly deeper, around 6 inches below soil level, or mulching the soil helps to protect plants from cold spells. In USDA Zones 3 to 6 you can also grow Naked Ladies as annuals.
Typically flowering in the summer months, the bulbs are best planted while they are not flowering. This means that as long as your soil is workable you can plant Naked Ladies at any time from October to early May.
Naked Ladies prefer full sun positions. While the plants can grow in partial shade, they may not flower as profusely as specimens planted in full sun positions.
Naked Ladies grow from bulbs. This means that these plants are best planted in well draining soil. Planting in soil that is too wet, or too slow to drain, can cause the bulbs to rot. If your soil is too heavy, or clay like, work in lots of organic matter such as compost before planting. This loosens the soil, helping to improve drainage.
When you are ready to plant your bulbs, dig a hole in the prepared soil. The hole should be large enough to comfortably hold the bulb. When placed in the hole the pointed tip of the bulb should sit just above soil level. You may need to add or remove soil from the hole before you are happy with the level of the bulb.
Amaryllis bulbs have a distinct pointy end. This should be planted level with or slightly above soil level.
When you are happy with the bulb’s position, backfill the hole. Flatten the soil, being careful not to compact it and water. The soil should be evenly moist. Try not to overwater the soil or make it too soggy.
For a truly great visual effect plant Naked Ladies in groups of at least 5. Clumps of 3 bulbs, spaced 6 inches apart, with each clump spaced 12 inches apart provides a particularly attractive effect. Interplanting Naked Ladies with bulbs that flower at other times of the year such as spring flowering Agapanthus or Daffodil bulbs, helps to create a long lasting floral display.
Naked Ladies are visually attractive plants that work in a range of planting schemes, including mixed borders and rock gardens. They can also be used to provide seasonal ground cover.
You can also plant the bulbs in pots or planters. Fill your chosen container with a well draining potting mix and plant as described above.
Once planted in a favorable position Naked Ladies are pleasingly low maintenance bulbs.
These plants require little regular pruning. Simply remove the dead foliage once it has died away. This encourages flowers to form.
Once established, Naked Ladies are drought tolerant plants. When foliage is present, the plants appreciate a regular drop of water during dry spells. A soil moisture sensor provides a quick and reliable way to monitor the moisture content of your soil, helping you to know when to water and preventing plants from drying out.
If planted in good soil, additional fertilization is not required. If flowering is poor, or if you are growing Naked Ladies in pots or as houseplants, apply a regular dose of general purpose liquid plant food when the foliage is present and developing. For indoor plants a general purpose plant feed, such as Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food is both safe to use and effective. Consult the label on the plant food packet for dosage information as well as how often the product should be applied.
Propagating Naked Ladies
Mature bulbs can be surprisingly large. Some may be the size of a grapefruit.
The bulbs can be lifted and divided when the plants are in their post-flowering period of dormancy. Dividing not only helps to rejuvenate mature bulbs, it also provides you with more bulbs that can be planted on or given to friends.
To divide the bulbs, gently lift them from the soil. Be careful not to damage the bulbs as you do this. Brush away any dirt before pulling the offsets, or small bulbs away from the larger, older bulbs. You may need to gently twist the bulbs to separate them. Each new bulb should have a healthy section of root.
Healthy, blemish free offsets are best planted immediately. Any bulbs that look damaged or diseased should be discarded.
Divided bulbs may not flower for the first two years after planting.
You can also cultivate new plants from seed.
Fresh seeds appear as the flowers fade. If you don’t want seeds to form, cut the stalks away from the plant once flowering has finished. Be warned, if the spent flowers are allowed to go to seed the plant is unlikely to flower the following year.
The seeds of Naked Ladies are typically pomegranate-like and pink or white in color. If you want to plant the seeds make sure that they are fresh. Old seeds are unlikely to germinate.
Sow the seeds in a tray or small pots filled with well draining potting soil mix. Keep the soil moist. Placing seeds or cuttings in a Propagator with Humidity Vents enables you to better control the conditions, increasing the seeds chances of successfully developing into strong and healthy plants. Seeds typically germinate in 2 weeks. Continue to grow them on in pots until they are large enough to plant outside.
Plants grown from seed rarely flower before they achieve 3 to 6 years of healthy growth.
For more on caring for Amaryllis plants, why not check out our Amaryllis care guide?
Be careful when handling, all parts of Naked Ladies are poisonous if ingested. This applies to both humans and animals.
These large, showy flowers are a pleasing addition to the garden.
Colorful, fragrant, and attractive it is easy to see why Naked Ladies are such attractive members of the flower garden. They are also pleasingly easy to grow, meaning that anyone can enjoy the showy blooms of these popular tropical flowers. Now that you have seen how attractive and easy they are to cultivate, why not add some Naked Ladies to your own flower garden?