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Garden Q&A: All about the naked ladies and fertilizing the peppers

Naked ladies, also known as resurrection lilies or magic lilies, burst forth in late summer without leaves on their stalks.
Naked ladies, also known as resurrection lilies or magic lilies, burst forth in late summer without leaves on their stalks. (Ellen Nibali/For The Baltimore Sun)

These seemed to pop out of the ground overnight. Just a stalk and then, boom, a flower. Is it a lily?

Naked ladies are having a banner year. More demurely known as resurrection lilies or magic lilies, Lycoris squamigera are actually in the amaryllis family.

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They burst on the scene at the end of summer when the rest of the garden is bug bit and beat up. The name comes from their bare stems with not a stitch of leaves to be seen. However, as a bulb, they do need leaves to carry on photosynthesis and renew bulbs for next year’s flowers. They do that by growing leaves in spring. The long strappy blades stock up on energy and then die back, disappearing entirely over the summer.

Remember their location, because in late August, suddenly 2-3 foot stems surprise you with big pink blooms edged with blue tinge. Their species name squamigera means “bearing scales” and refers to tiny scales on the flowers, which give petals an iridescent sheen.

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Transplant when dormant in summer, though fall can work, too. Grows well in sun or part shade. Big bonus — unlike lilies, they are ignored by deer. This lycoris species is often confused with Belladonna amaryllis, also referred to as naked ladies sometimes, but whose life cycle is different.

How can I give my pepper plants more nutrients? They turned yellow from the constant rain. I usually use liquid fertilizer but do not want to overwater and drown the plants since the soil is still wet.

Yellowing lower leaves and leeching from watering and/or rain suggests a nitrogen deficiency. Use a granular fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of nitrogen equal to or greater than the phosphorus and potassium levels.

Organic fertilizers will release nutrients more slowly than most synthetic fertilizers. You also can try a slow-release synthetic fertilizer that is coated and pelletized to release nutrients slowly as long as the soil is moist and warm.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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