This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There are many plants allied to the Amaryllis, as we find by looking through catalogues and books on Bulbs. The following were taken from a Dutch list of Bulbs:
Alstroemeria - Flowers of great beauty and easy culture. Brunsvigia - Large bulbs, pink or crimson flowers. Buphane - Allied to Brunsvigia, pink or scarlet flowers. Coburgia - Greenhouse bulbs, flowers yellow, or orange-red. Crinum - Flowers resembling the Amaryllis, white or rose. Griffinia - Rose, blue, or violet lily-like flowers. Habranthus - Allied to Ama-rylis, fine for pot culture. Hippeastrum - Generally known as Amaryllis Ismene. - Very pretty flowers of white or yellow. Lycorus - Bears beautiful flowers, golden lily. Nerine - Guernsey lily the type, vermillion scarlet flowers. Pancratium - Delicate white sweet-scented flowers. Phsedranassa - Yellow, or bright scarlet flowers. Phycella - Charming flowers, yellow, red or scarlet.
Of the above we have oloomed the Crinums (Capensis and Amabile) Griffinia,Hippeastrum, Ismene, Nerine, and Pancratium; and have cultivated Brunsvigia, Coburgia, Lycorus, Al-stroemeria; Phaedranassa, and Phycella without blooming them. Our Alstroemeria died of heat and a dry atmosphere. Brunsvigia, and also Belladonna lily, may have been disturbed too often; they grew vigorously. The Lycorus (a lovely flower) divided into two, and refused to bloom. The Phycella ingloriously gave up and died. The Phaedranassa grew well, but declined to give us one blossom to satisfy our longing eyes, and the Coburgia followed its example.
I tried for many years to learn in what situation the Hippeastrum variety grew, but •excepting a mention of one, by Livingstone, which he found in a grassy meadow, heard nothing, nor of any one that knew, till presented with "Herbert's Amaryllidea." In this I learned that the yellow, or orange variety grew among the rocks, in a forest, and sometimes in the crotches of trees. Since then I have met a florist in Baltimore who has been on several United States Expeditions, and who informed me that he had seen the evergreen (or fall blooming) variety growing in the West Indies, in damp spots behind rocks. After that a florist told me that he had been speaking with a physician who had been to the West Indies. This gentlemen told him that he had seen the Hippeastrum in bloom, by the acre, in or near the edges of forests. An English lady traveling in the West Indies, mentions them as growing in the forest. Herbert describes Crinums as growing in or near ditches of water. A large variety brought from Africa was said to have been found growing close to a river.
I have found, too, when cultivating the Crinum, amabile, Capense, Americanum, etc, that if freely watered (as freely as for a Calla) they grew with astonishing luxuriance.
Since writing last upon the Amaryllis, I have heard of various modes for its treatment, and some very successful ones. Lately a lady told me that it had been her practice, at the time she removed her plants to the garden, or yard, to place her Amaryllis (Johnsonii) in the cellar, putting the pots on top of a cupboard, where they remained, without water, till September. She generally put them away in the pots, but sometimes without. The cellar was a slightly damp one. In September they were re-potted in a mixture of garden earth and chicken manure, the latter being taken from the floor of the chicken coops, where it was partially mixed with earth. They were then put into the windows of a warm sunny kitchen, and never failed to bloom.
Another lady reversed the mode just described. As soon as decidedly cold weather approached she placed her Amaryllis in the cellar, and left there with occasional watering (the cellar being a dry one), till warm spring weather, when they were sunk in the garden border. They bloomed after this treatment without fail, after being previously kept in a sunny chamber window, during the winter, without blooming.
A lady of Philadelphia plants hers out in the Spring, pots them in the rich earth as soon as cool weather approaches, then rests them in the cellar till the middle of December, when they are taken into a warm, sunny room. In two weeks they are, generally, in bud, and never fail to bloom. One lady kept the fall-blooming (or evergreen) kind out of the ground for 8 months; it was then put into the garden where it bloomed finely during the latter part of Summer.
The London papers tell us the taste for the Amaryllis is becoming quite general in England. The writer of this, when in England last Summer, saw a large house at Mr. B. S. Williams' wholly devoted to these bulbs, showing a large demand for them. In our own country we fancy the taste will also increase. The admirable sketches of Miss G. in our pages, show how much there is in them to admire, and how easy it is to manage them. The writer of this has, every Summer, beautiful blossoms of A. longifolia in the open ground, with no more trouble than the taking up of the root in the Fall and putting it " anywhere," and then setting it out in the Spring. At this writing, May 25th, it is throwing up an unusually long-flower stalk.
Noticing your correspondent's communication upon "The Amaryllis, " page 132 of your May number, I wish to call your attention to the enclosed photograph of a magnificent specimen of that much mixed-up family, now in the possession of Mr. Daniel Barker, of this city, through the generosity of the former owner. It was called by the person who introduced it here, "The Cape Horn Lily" evidently a misnomer. This bulb is four years old, and is an offset from a bulb, also an offset from the original plant now in New York State, said to fill a half-hogshead, surrounded by its many offsets and young bulbs, and a grand sight it must be, with from fifty to a hunched lovely flowers open at one time.
By comparison with A. Cleopatra of dwarf and compact habit, in bloom on the left, the relative proportions of this plant can be seen from the photograph, but for the sake of accuracy, I will say the bulb is fifteen inches in circumference. Leaves when fully grown three or four feet in length; flower-stalks three and one-quarter feet in height, and covered with the delicate bloom of the Orleans Plum.
There are now nine flowers in full bloom, five on one stalk, and four on another, and a third stalk making its appearance at the base.
The cluster of flowers upon a single stalk measures sixteen inches in diameter, and each individual flower is six inches across, and six inches long. A pure white stripe down the center of each, deep-crimson; velvety petal, fringed as in A. Johnsonii, and a white throat complete its description. It is the grandest Lily I have ever seen or heard of, and if allied to A. Johnsonii, is entitled to be called Amaryllis Johnsonii gran-dissima, or excelsissima.
Do any of your correspondents know more of its history? Mr. Barker who has grown the Amaryllis for forty years, says he has never seen anything to equal it.
[The photograph shows a beautiful specimen as described by W. - Ed. G. M].