I’ve grown Amaryllis belladonna in the garden for many years. Some years they are spectacular, some they barely flower at all. Maybe our climate is on the edge of what they like and only a particularly hot year suits them, maybe I just let too much else grow up around them and shade them.
What they have never done is produce seed. I have a couple of clones but they are not in flower at the same time, so maybe they are not self fertile; probably it is just not hot enough here.
I don’t recall how the subject arose, but Tony Tomeo, in California, has them naturalised around where he lives and very kindly sent me some seed. I say ‘some’, I am talking industrial quantities, perhaps 500 seeds. They are fleshy and the size of big peas, it was a fair sized packet. All the books say they deteriorate very quickly and need to be sown straight away. A website I was looking at says they are recalcitrant, meaning they can’t stop themselves germinating. I understand the word to mean something completely different but there you go, what do I know?
One of my propagation books says to sow them singly in 9cm (3″) pots which I reckon would have covered about five square metres if I’d sown them all. I sowed them in 3L pots, about 60 to a pot, and put them on the window ledge beside me. That was 30th September. One or two were already showing signs of germinating, a small green shoot pushing out, but mostly not. They seem to have nearly all germinated now and have produced a single leaf, now around 15cm tall.
Most of the remaining seeds I gave away and I haven’t heard how they’re doing. I still had a few left and put them in a plastic bag, loosely tied, which has been sitting on my desk beside me here ever since. I had no need of any more but couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. I expected them to go to mush, start to stink and make dumping them easy. Instead they nearly all germinated and simply refused to die. Today, two months later, I caved in and sowed them. Like the others, they have gone in a three litre pot, dibbled into the surface, but there is no room by the window so they will have to take their chances in the greenhouse, which I aim to keep frost free but no more. I shall find out just how resilient they are.
Somewhere at the back of my mind is a question about what I am going to do with as many as 300 Amaryllis bulbs but as dilemmas go, it’s not the worst.