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August Plant of the Month: Lycoris

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

By Mobile County Master Gardener Alice Marty

Bulbs in the Lycoris family are known by many names: Spider lily, Surprise lily, Disappearing lilies, and Magic lilies are a few. Some gardeners even call these mysterious summer bulbs Naked Lady, pointing out that the bloom stalks are leafless.

These unique bulbs play “hide and seek” in the garden. The name Magic lily or Surprise lily indicates the leaves appear in spring but disappear in summer. Late summer brings single stalks with only blooms until leaves form again in fall.

Lycoris bulbs become available in September and October, the ideal time to plant. Bulbs should be planted point side up, 4 to 6 inches deep. They do best in full sun (6 hours) and well-drained soil.

Lycoris are considered tender bulbs that grow best in hardiness zones 7-10. Pink Magic lilies (lycoris squamigera) are the most cold-hardy, tolerating zones 5-9.

Red Spider lily (Lycoris radiata), White Spider lily (Lycoris albiflora), and Golden Spider lily (Lycoris aurea) are often called Hurricane lily, because they begin blooming when our Southeast hurricane season begins.

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