August 19, 2011

Plant of the Month: Lycoris

When I started writing this blog 10 months ago, I committed to highlighting one plant a month. And one of the plants I knew would be part of the mix was Lycoris squamigera, a member of the Amaryllis family.

Lycoris squamigera

Its beauty elicits a mix of awe and sadness for me every year in late August. Awe, because of its lovely shape, color, and growth pattern; and sadness because it blooms at the transition time between summer and fall.

 Some of its common names are:

  • Resurrection Lily, Surprise Lily, or Magic Lily: It appears out of nowhere and grows 2 to 3 feet tall in a few days.
  • Assumption Lily: It blooms near the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption.
  • Spider Lily: The flowers have petal segments shaped like spider legs.
  • Naked Ladies: The thick stems are straight, foliage-free, and topped with showy bright pink blooms.

    Here are before and after shots of Lycoris, taken Sunday, Aug. 14, and Friday, Aug. 19, from approximately the same locations. (Note: I pulled back the Hosta leaves in the first shot.)

    Lycoris is native to eastern and southern Asia. The Missouri Botanical Garden says it prefers sun to light shade, but Lycoris grows quite well in my shady garden. It’s hardy in zones 5-9, needs only moderate water, and it has no serious insect or disease problems. The flowers last in cut arrangements for several days and have a faintly sweet scent.

    Summer is ending—a transition I struggle with every year. One of the bright spots is Lycoris, which reminds us that new life, new beginnings, and new opportunities often appear out of nowhere.


    1. i love your take on these lilies and their bloom time. this time of year is always kind of sad to me, too. pairing them with hostas seems like a great idea, too. they look as if they belong together.

    2. Is such a lovely sweet colour and blooms displayed in your garden.

    3. It is a pretty flower and looks great texture-wise with the hosta. Plus, the hosta hides the less attractive parts of the plant too.

    4. Lovely. They look great hidden in among the hostas. What a beautiful combination.

    5. @Daricia: I know it's silly, but I'm always afraid to look closely at the spots where the Lycoris grow for fear I'll find them--meaning summer is almost over. But then when they're in full bloom, they help me make the transition. I love summer. Fall is great, too, but the transition is difficult.

      @Phytophactor: That is wild! We must think alike--although you have much more knowledge than I do. I enjoyed your photos of Lycoris in your garden!

      @P3: Thank you! It's so aptly named--all the names for Lycoris really describe it well.

    6. @Donna: Yes, it is a great companion for the Hostas. Its foliage makes an appearance before the Hostas, and then dies back to let the Hostas take over. And then the blooms shoot up through the Hosta leaves in August.

      @Holley: Thanks! Yes, they kind of perk up the garden this time of year, too.

    7. The Lycoris is a really beautiful plant!
      Still no signs of fall here in Italy. It's incredibly hot for the end of August, and summer seems to be at its top... :(

    8. Not a plant I have really ever come across, but I rather love the fact that it comes into its own just as the rest of the garden is starting to slow down a little. I also really like the way that, planted with hostas, it is almost as if the hostas are flowering again. Must try to remember that - another plant for the wishlist!

    9. Hi Beth! Very pretty! I love how it looks with hosta!

    10. A wonderful combination! Thank you for sharing it!!

    11. Lovely post...I've been seeing these in bloom everywhere. Do you have a good source for them? A sad transition, yes, but even the garden needs a time to rest. :)

    12. I've never grown these but have an opening in my shady River Birch garden and these ladies are perfect for the job. Plus, I like the idea of yelling, "There are naked ladies in the garden!" Did you plant them as bulbs? Thanks for the kind words on my blog. :o)

    13. Beth I discovered this flower last year and have loved watching it grow this August. I love how you equate it with the changing of seasons and I adore it paired with hostas. I learned several fun facts as well...great post!

    14. @Dona: Sounds wonderful! The temperatures here are perfect, too. Wish I could freeze the weather and have it stay like this all year!

      @Janet: Yes, I was thinking the same thing about them looking like blooms atop the Hostas. Definitely good companion plants.

      @Tatyana: Thank you! What a beautiful view over at your blog right now. Spectacular shots!

      @Julie: Thanks! Hope you had fun planting those trees. Cheers!

    15. @Hanni: Thanks! I noticed that White Flower Farm has the bulbs for 3/$19.95: I'll let you know if I find other sources, too.

      @TS: LOL! I like that idea, too. Alas, I didn't plant them. The very talented previous owner gets the credit.

      @Donna: Thank you. It's almost like I don't want to see Lycoris. And by the time I notice the shoots, it's only a couple of days before they put on their full amazing show--almost overnight! Then I can't help but appreciate them.

    16. thanks for commenting on my mornin glory post, you are very kind.

    17. A lovely plant. I am wishing for fall just for some coolness - but I remember that end-of-summer nostalgia from growing up in Michigan.

    18. That is a really soft and pretty color to this flower and a nice addition to the garden.

    19. @Greggo: Certainly--your posts are beautiful.

      @Sheila: That's understandable--I'd be happier to welcome fall, too, if our extreme winter didn't follow it.

      @iheart: Thanks. Yes, it's a beauty, isn't it?

    20. You have many lovely blooms in your garden.

    21. The measly two bulbs I have (nothing compared to your wonderful clump) are in full sun! I am hoping to add more this fall.
      Good luck getting your daughter settled. I would be crying!!!

    22. how different our experience of summer's ending. I share exactly your enthusiasm for the green of a new garden year! But for me that means autumn and March lilies.


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