One of the best of the bulbs

I’ve featured St. Joseph’s lily before here, and I’m proud to write about it again. It’s the kind of friend you like to introduce often.

These St. Joseph’s lilies are in our home landscape. I love this bulb!

Dating back to the very early 1800s, it’s generally considered to be the first hybrid amaryllis, probably a blend of Hippeastrum reginae and H. vittatum.

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It’s winter hardy to Zone 7, so it should survive cold in all but the colder parts of the Panhandle. The thermometer hit -4F in the Sperry landscape in February 2021. Our plantings were a bit stunned, but they came back strongly.

Tucked away in a corner, this plant is still eye-catching.

Even the foliage is attractive. Its leaves are 2 inches wide, arching, and 15 to 20 inches long. They last through most of the growing season, finally folding up tent with the first hard freeze of the fall.

There is such an elegance to this plant and its blossoms. Click image for larger view.

Grow St. Joseph’s lilies in full sun or, if necessary, with a bit of afternoon shade. Plant them into rich, well-draining soil and space the bulbs 12 to 16 inches apart so you can get a massed effect. I prefer to leave them undisturbed for years so the show can be full and spectacular.

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This plant propagates by division. That’s one of the slowest ways to increase a plant’s numbers, and it means you’ll have to dig a clump in the fall and break it into individual bulbs.

This is the way a mass of St. Joseph’s lilies can look when allowed to remain undisturbed for 5 or 6 years.

My good friend, the late Steve Wilson, brought me a large clump to my old garden show in Arlington one February. The plants were just starting to grow so they could still be transplanted. I brought them home and set the clump out pretty much intact to let it establish. Within the first couple of years, I was able to dig and divide my bulbs, and my planting has since grown to probably 150 clumps, even having given many to friends.

Facebook friend Sheri Dillon posted this several years ago. I share it just for fun.

Southern Bulb Company does carry this plant in their online catalog, although they are currently sold out. Keep an eye on their site, or ask to be notified when they replenish their supplies.

Take a look, too, at the stunning parent of St. Joseph’s lily (Hippeastrum vittatum). Southern Bulb Company also offers it, although it, too, is currently out. I have one nice clump, and it’s beautiful.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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