Rhodophiala - An Easy-to-grow Dwarf Amaryllid

Rhodophiala - An Easy-to-grow Dwarf Amaryllid

By Published November 30, 2022

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In this video, Tony discusses the genus Rhodophiala. Although not quite as large as a hybrid amaryllis, rhodophiala makes a colorful statement in the garden. Rhodophiala flowers appear in late summer or fall when the garden is sorely in need of some fresh color. The flowers appear several weeks before the leaves, similar to lycoris. And like their lycoris cousins, Rhodophiala foliage grows primarily in winter and goes dormant in summer. The plants are thus quite drought-tolerant. They also grow well in containers.

Video Transcription

The genus Rhodophiala is one of many genus in the Amaryllid family with lycoris, crinums, rain lilies, etc. And basically, what rhodophiala is, it's a dwarf Hippeastrum. So, it's the plant people know as garden amaryllis, which is actually not an amaryllis at all, and these are basically miniatures. This is as tall as they get, about 10 inches. These are native to Argentina. Really quite amazing. The color ranges from pinks to reds. This is an old-fashioned plant that has been passed along in Texas for many years, selected for just great garden quality.

This is one called 'Hill Country Red'. I'd say 99 percent of the Rhodophialas you see sold in the US are this cultivar. So, they come up generally out of the ground in mid-August and you're going to have several bulbs in each and they just flower for several weeks maybe even a month depending on how many bulbs you have. Really quite incredible. And then they disappear, and the foliage comes up right with the flower stalks. And when you finish you can just leave them alone, they'll drop a few seed in place and come up, but not enough to ever be an issue in the garden. And if you only have one clone, they will not set viable seed. So, you have to have more than one, not more than one plant, but more than one clone. So, these are all clonal, this is one single individual just divided many times. Rhodophialas grow in light shade to full sun. So, anything in between - they're fabulous. They bloom just as well in light open filtered shade as they do in sun, so to have this pop up almost out of nowhere, middle of summer, it's just pretty darn amazing. Now, they vary in color, and so if you do have more than one, or want to get seed set you will get a color range that ranges into these beautiful pinks. This is sort of the carmine pink form. And then let's look at a few more.
Image of Rhodophiala bifida 'Carmencita'
Rhodophiala bifida 'Carmencita'

So here we've gone through for years, and we've selected different colors. So instead of the red we saw earlier you can see that these vary tremendously, and when you grow them from seed it's really quite amazing, the diversity that you get. And then the really interesting stuff... let me just go a little further.

You can get some really incredible colors and some that are almost black! So, it really is an amazing, amazing group and one that, like I say, once you have more than one clone, you're going to get seed and you can grow and get some really incredible colors. So, a fun easy-to-grow plant, certainly hardy from Zone 7b south. I don't think it's going to go a whole lot further north, but they're easy to grow in containers. They grow great through the winter, dry them off in spring when they go dormant and disappear, because they are spring dormant. But what an amazing little treat! It's one of those happy plants you know, it goes out in the middle of summer, you see this wonderful flower, it makes you smile after a hard day. So, I hope you'll explore the genus Rhodophiala. And these are all the species bifida I should add. There are other species that are really a lot more difficult to grow, this is the easy one. You want something, once you master this and you want a challenge try some of the other Chilean species that are much more difficult in our summer climates. Thank you very much.

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