By Marcia Winchester, Master Gardener
One of my favorite times at our Demo Garden is September when seemingly overnight the Pollinator and Heirloom Gardens have an explosion of beautiful red lilies emerging from the ground. They light up the gardens like fireworks. These lilies (Lycoris radiata) are commonly known as “spider lilies”
because of the spidery flowers. They may also be called “naked ladies” since they pop up with no foliage. Under any name they make a garden in September a wonder.
Spider lilies were introduced to the US in the early nineteenth century. They bloom in shade or sun in rich, well-drained soil. They don’t like to be transplanted, so decide on their location in your garden, and plant them promptly.
Another key point is to plant them shallow so their necks (top of the bulb where the leaves and flowers emerge) are just peeking out.
Spider lilies do have leaves, just not when they bloom in September. Their
12-inch-long leaves emerge in the fall and stay up all winter gathering nutrients; they then go dormant in May.
I love watching bees and butterflies gather nectar from the delicate blossoms. Come visit the gardens this September and enjoy the show.