Wednesday, August 13, 2008
There are nekkid ladies in my garden!
No, there is no debauchery or ribald action going on in the garden, it is just the Lycoris squamigera blooming. I don't know all the scientific names of plants but this one is one of my favorites because I love the way it rolls off your tongue. As much as I like to say it though, the common name, "Naked Ladies," is much more fun and amusing. Actually, this plant has a host of common names - Surprise Lily, Resurrection Lily, Magic Lily, Mystery Lily and the list goes on. Elizabeth Lawrence refers to them as "Hall's Amaryllis," a name which I never hear today. I've always heard them called "Naked Ladies" because the flowers appear on tall stalks with no foliage underneath.
It would be interesting to see time-lapse photography of this plant blooming because they suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere in late July and early August. The blooms last for several weeks and if you want to transplant them, it is wise to mark the area because after the blooms go, the plant does a disappearing act until long strap-like leaves appear in late fall and last until early summer when they too go dormant. There is no action after that until the violet tinged pink flowers make a "surprise" appearance in late summer.
A favorite of florists, these cold hardy bulbs (to zone 5) are very easy to grow in any average, well-drained soil. I've seen them thrive in very poor soils. They should be planted in the fall at 5-6 inches deep and mulched during the winter. Full sun or partial shade is fine. They spread rapidly and are easily dug and transplanted or shared with friends.
Don't confuse Lycoris squamigera with Lycoris radiata (aka Hurricane Lily or Spider Lily) which appear in the fall and have bright red flowers. But that is another post for a later date.
For an amusing story about Naked Ladies, visit Jeff's blog at Transitional Gardener and read about his childhood memory of this plant.