A cheerful summer-blooming bulb, rain lily got its common name for its tendency to burst into bloom immediately following periods of significant rain when growing in the wild. Native to South America, rain lily is to Zone 7 where it is dug each fall and stored over winter for replanting in spring. Plant rain lily along walkways, in rock gardens, or in a large drift in a perennial garden where you need some late-summer interest.
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Planting Rain Lily
Low-growing rain lily has pretty clumps of grasslike foliage. Crocuslike, star-shape blossoms appear in late summer or early fall. Because of its small size, plant it near the front of the border or the edge of a path or garden where it can easily be enjoyed. Pair rain lily with low-growing sedum cultivars and ground-hugging thyme. It will pop up through these groundcover plants in early spring for vertical interest. Rain lily also grows well in containers. Lantana and lysimachia make for a striking color combo.
Rain Lily Care
Rain lily grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It does not blossom well in shade. Plant bulbs 2 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches apart in spring. Water bulbs well after planting and cover the soil with a 1-inch layer of fine mulch. Native to dry regions, rain lily grows best in average to dry soil. Only water plants during extreme dry periods.
Rain lily is hardy in Zones 7 through 10, where it will come back year-after-year. In cooler Zones, dig up bulbs before the first fall frost. Dry bulbs in a cool, dry spot for several days before placing them in peat or vermiculite and storing them in a frost-free location.
New Types of Rain Lily
Breeders have been developing new varieties that have colorful blossoms, evergreen foliage, and improved hardiness. These new rain lilies are worth searching for.