Aug 30, 2015

Late Summer Surprises #Lycoris

By Kathy Woolsey
Late summer thunderstorms often bring unexpected color to the garden.  Summer blooming bulbs seem to pop up overnight with names like Surprise Lily, Magic Lily, Spider Lily, Naked Lady and Rain Lily.

Lycoris are members of the Amaryllis family and are reliable bulbs here in the south (USA). The red Lycoris radiate, by far the most popular, is often called the red spider lily along with a host of other common names. These heirloom plants are originally from China and can be found in many old gardens. They pop up in September and October so they are sometimes called Hurricane lilies too. After the flowers die, the foliage comes up and will stay green most of the winter. The foliage looks very much like Liriope foliage with a faint white line running down the center.  It is important to recognize the foliage and not cut it down.  All bulbs need to have the foliage actively growing in order to bloom again. Red Lycoris foliage will die down in spring and this is a good time to dig and divide the bulbs.  You will be surprised how many bulbs will be in one clump.  The bulbs should be replanted soon after digging.  The red spider lily is very tolerant of wet soils and can be planted next to ponds or in rain gardens.
The Pink Lycoris squamigera is another old garden favorite. It is often called Resurrection Lily because the flower pops up almost overnight after the foliage dies. These flowers are larger than the red spider lilies. The pink flowers are blushed with a faint lavender color and have a soft fragrance. The best time to divide these bulbs is just after the flowers fade in the early fall. Be sure to be plant them before spring arrives. The Pink Lycoris is sometimes confused with Amaryllis Belladonna; however the Belladonna lily often fails to bloom around here.  I have had some Belladonna lilies now for 3 years and still no blooms.

There is a yellow spider lily too. Lycoris aurea looks like a yellow form of the red spider lily but it is a different species.  The golden yellow blooms will brighten any shady spot in the late summer garden.  Lycoris aurea are larger than the red spider lily and bloom over a longer time.
Lycoris are members of the Amaryllis family and there are over 20 species, all of them native to eastern Asia. There are some interesting Japanese Hybrids available on the on the internet. One of these days I am going to try some of these when the price drops. 
All Lycoris have very few pests and are not eaten by deer. They should be planted in part shade with a little organic or slow release fertilizer. Once planted, they will last for years and the only reason to divide them is to share with friends.  Lycoris also make great cut flowers and will last a long time in the vase. #bulbs, #Lycoris, # Surprise Lily, #Magic Lily, #Spider Lily

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