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.
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.