Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How many names can a lily have?

Lycoris squamigera

Behold Lycoris squamigera, known by the following common names - "Surprise Lily", "Naked Ladies", "Resurrection Lily", "Magic Lily" and who knows what else. I always heard them referrred to as either "Naked Ladies" (due to the fact that there is no foliage) or "Surprise Lily" (because they seem to appear out of nowhere). 

They are fascinating plants. According to "Garden Bulbs for the South" by Scott Ogden (a book every Southern gardener should own!), the bulbs first came to America by a Rhode Island doctor who grew them in Shanghai, China. In late July, the bulbs produce stalks that rapidly grow 1-2 feet in just a few days and then produce lovely clusters of soft pink flowers (this unusual vigor is caused by an extra set of chromosomes). They don't like warm soils so they do not perform as well in coastal areas or the deep south. In north Alabama, they prefer shadier spots and do well in woodland gardens. 

Whatever you call them, they are wonderful to have in the garden.

Lycoris squamigera  

Lycoris squamigera Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

16 comments:

  1. Let me add Pink Ladies to your list! I too have that book and like it very much! Beautiful photos!

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  2. Your photos do justice to the beauty of those flowers.

    Interesting that here Naked Ladies/Pink Ladies are the names for Amaryllis belladonna, and the bloom stems are just shooting up now as well.

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  3. Lilies might be my favorite flower and these beauties remind me again why.

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  4. I have that book and love it. I actually just gave a gardening friend an extra copy as a thank you for all the passalongs they shared with me. I absolutely love these pictures. Adding this one to my wish list!

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  5. A neighbor in Illinois used to call them "August Lilies", Phillip.But Surprise Lily was how I first met them.
    I grow the red lycoris AKA "Hurricane Lily" here in Austin but admire your pink Surprise Lilies very much.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  6. Hi Phillip, I've planted quite a few of these and never had any luck. Maybe the warm soil is the reason. Love them anyway.

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  7. Good question. I always refer to them as Naked Ladies. They are such fun to have in the garden. Especially when they are in an area you don't pay so much attention to...there they become a pleasant surprise every year.

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  8. Love the photos of this old southern passalong plant. Such a nice surprise when they magically appear!
    Looking forward to seeing you on Monday at Limestone Master Gardeners meeting.

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  9. Seeing so many posts about these makes me want to remember to order them at bulb time (soon!)

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  10. The soft pink and blue coloring of these so delicate and beautiful. I just love how they all pop up at the same time all over town.

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  11. There was one of these in the yard when I bought the house back in 1985. I transplanted it and it never came back. To my surprise, I just discovered it blooming 3 days ago!
    Crazy! After all these years!

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  12. Oh I have mine in a sunny spot. I will move them to the edge of the woods where I want more plantings anyway.

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  13. Hi Phillip. Good seeing you today at the Athens Limestone MG meeting. Enjoyed your slide presentation as we discussed here's the link to my blog post on the pesky No See Um insect that is so annoying:

    http://sanda-halcyondays.blogspot.com/2013/07/no-see-ums-but-you-sure-can-feel-um.html?m=1

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  14. Why did I know from the name of the post what you were talking about? Also heard them called Jesus lilies.
    I have some of the red if you want some. Mary

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