Amarcrinum, also known as Crinodonna lily or Hardy Amaryllis, is a lesser-known bulb among novice gardeners—and what a shame! This fascinating group of plants combines many of the best features of other, more common bulbs, and is an ideal flower for gardens in zones 7-10. Here’s what you should know about Amarcrinum, and why you should start planting it sooner than later!
Amarcrinum: The Best of Two Bulbs
Amarcrinum is a hybrid of the Amaryllis and Crinum bulbs, hence its name. While the name x Amarcrinum refers to any hybrid of Amaryllis and Crinum, most of the hybrids you’re likely to find are hybrids of Amaryllis belladonna and either Crinum moorei or Crinum powellii. Like many bulbs in the Amaryllidaceae family, the bulb is pest proof and blooms on tall, sturdy, upright stems.
Where Amarcrinum makes its parent plants proud is how it combines both of their best qualities (not unlike our own children, in most cases!). While Amaryllis is known for its dramatic, showy flowers, Amaryllis belladonna—along with several other Amaryllis varieties—are somewhat lacking in the foliage department when in flower. Crinum, on the other hand, features lovely, strappy foliage that surrounds their delicate, fragrant blooms.
Amarcrinum, by contrast, benefits from all the showiness of the Amaryllis flower with the fragrance and foliage of the Crinum.
Amarcrinum in the Garden
In the garden, the summer-blooming Amarcrinum commands attention! The bright, sweet-smelling, rose-pink blooms are a welcome addition to garden beds, particularly perennial gardens in the South. While the flower will grow in northern gardens, it shines in warm climates where it can stay undisturbed for several seasons. The bulb is slow to mature, and northern gardeners may either see it as “challenging” or “discouraging,” depending on their outlook. This is because the first-year growth often pales in comparison to Amarcrinum’s flower display two or three years later. Furthermore, it dislikes being disturbed, and will often refuse to flower the following year after being dug up and moved indoors—almost as if to say, “This is what you get for making me move!” As a result, most gardeners in zone 7 and cooler will have the most success growing Amarcrinum in containers.
In the South, however, it’s a much different story. In mild climates where Amarcrinum can be left in the ground all year, the bulb ages like a fine wine—she just gets better and better!
You could liken Amarcrinum to a shy party guest at your annual Fourth of July bash. In the first year, she’ll stop in to say “hello.” The following year, she’ll show up with a great outfit. Then, every year afterward, she’ll become the life of the party!
Amarcrinum bulbs do best in rich, moist soils, whether in beds or containers. It should be planted with the “nose” (or pointed end) facing upward. If you live in zones 6-8, plant with 3" of soil covering the bulb, and in colder areas, plant in pots leaving the top third of the bulb exposed. The plant should be kept in full sun.
Caring for Amarcrinum
A layer of mulch is highly beneficial for Amarcrinum, as it helps the soil retain even moisture and shelters the bulb below from frost in cooler climates. In spring and summer, water the plant often to keep soils evenly moist but not saturated.
If growing in colder climates, frost protection is the key to keeping Amarcrinum happy. Protect with horticultural fleece when frosty periods loom. If growing in containers in cooler zones, move them indoors for the winter and keep in a bright location where it’s cool but not cold. Avoid watering until it’s time to move the plant back outdoors.
In our gardens, our Amarcrinum have had several years to establish—and what beauties they are! You can see them from across the field during their peak bloom times from August to mid-fall, providing a beam of color after most other flowers have faded for the year. If you nurture it, this fragrant favorite will provide you with a long season of smiles, and keep you company as a wonderfully long-lasting cut flower!
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