As the name suggests, the spider lily has long, spiderlike petals on its flowers that appear from midsummer to fall. This hardy bulb has a curious habit of blooming on bare stems with no foliage present, which has earned it the common names "naked lady" and "surprise lily." It is also dubbed the hurricane lily, as it tends to bloom during hurricane season in the U.S. The flower is a close relative to the amaryllis and much like its kin, has a striking flower. This plant generally puts out its foliage in spring after the coldest weather has passed.
Depending on where you live, you may be more familiar with a regional type of spider lily. For example, gardeners in northern areas tend to recognize Lycoris squamigera, which is one of the hardiest species with flowers in shades of light pink. Gardeners in southern climates are likely to be more familiar with Lycoris radiata. This species puts out foliage in the fall and holds its color through the winter. There are many other species and hybrids. All the varieties produce a mix of colorful blossoms including peach, yellow, orange, coral, and pink with blue tips.
Spider Lily Care Must-Knows
These easy-to-grow perennial bulbs are often planted and then forgotten. They grow best in well-drained soil with moderate moisture during the growing season. Although it's not necessary, some spider lilies appreciate a dry spell in their dormant summer period. When planting spider lily bulbs, the neck of the bulb should be planted just below the surface of the soil. These plants can be left alone for many years and will create impressively large collections of flowers.
Spider lilies can easily be grown in full sun to part shade, though they'll do best where they get some shade. This plant is toxic if eaten, making it deer and pest resistant. However, that makes it important to keep pets and small children away.
The best time to divide or transplant a spider lily is just after it goes dormant in early summer. Once the foliage has completely died back, dig up the bulbs. Division is not necessary because these plants will easily form multiple clumps on their own. You can often see large established colonies growing in places such as cemeteries or church yards.
While not exceptionally common, there are some spectacular varieties and hybrids available. Many of these hybrids are fairly hard to find, as they are bred by small, independent breeders and not available at mainstream locations. This makes finding one of these hybrids even more fulfilling. Some of these plants feature stunning color combinations such as pink with blue tips, which is not found in the straight species.