Plant bulbs now to see Naked Ladies in the fall

Naked Ladies (Lycoris)

Dr. Bob Gilbert – Columnist

Dr. Bob Gilbert

In late summer, Naked Ladies will be in bloom all over town. They do have other common names such as Resurrection Flower, Spider Lily, Surprise Lily and Hurricane Lily. These showy plants belong to the Amaryllis family. The genus is Lycoris (lie-core-is) with close to 11 species. There are two general groups — one whose leaves appear in the fall (Lycoris radicans) and the other whose leaves are evident in the spring (Lycoris squirmier). What is unique about both groups is that the foliage disappears in the late spring to early summer. The bulbs bloom without foliage and seem to appear suddenly. This accounts for one of the common names. In Florida they tend to bloom at the height of hurricane season, hence another common name. Now is the time to plant these bulbs.

The most common Lycoris is the species radicans. It has showy 12-18 inches tall red blooms with long stamens that look like spider legs. There are white forms and a dwarf only 6-9 inches tall. Once these are established the bulbs multiply evidenced by the masses of blooms in front of the late Barbara McRae’s house. Lycoris have been hybridized resulting in a large number of exotic colors such as blue, golden, various shades of red, pink, orange and yellow.  I found these to be short lived. The most reliable Lycoris is the species radicans, the red flowering Spider Lily. It is hardy from Zone 5-8, likes full sun and are best planted about 6 inches deep. They can be over planted with annuals or low growing perennials. The bulbs need summer moisture to bloom. During a long dry summer, they may not bloom heavily or at all.

A good source for Lycoris is Plants Delight Nursery, They have a large selection and many hybrids. These are popular plants and can be found easily. I think the fun part is that Lycoris is forgotten most of the year and then it surprises you in late August and September with a big display.

Dr Bob Gilbert is co-founder of Smith Gilbert Garden in Kennesaw, Ga. 

Karen Lawrence is a professional photographer from Franklin.