Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on October 1, 1998. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Naked Ladies, Hurricane Lilies Make Garden News
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Since Washington scandals and hurricanes have been dominating the newspapers, I feel compelled to write about Naked Ladies and Hurricane Lilies.
Naked Ladies, Hurricane Lily, Schoolhouse Lily and Spider Lily are all common names for a wonderful group of plants called Lycoris. Guess where the Lycoris name came from? Lycoris is from the name of the beautiful Roman actress who was the mistress of Marc Anthony. The Lycoris group or genus is in the amaryllis family and are usually hardy throughout the state, tolerating temperatures to around 5 degrees.
The red Spider Lilies known as Lycoris radiata have been blooming everywhere in what has been a banner year. You can guess why it has other common names. Naked Lady applies because it has no foliage when in bloom, and Schoolhouse Lily because it was in bloom when kids use to start to school. With all of the tropical storm activity, the term Hurricane Lily may be the most apropos.
Most gardeners call them Spider Lilies due to the spidery petals of the bloom. The white-flowered, spring-blooming hymenocallis also holds the Spider Lily connotation.
Naked Lady also refers to the larger pink flowered Lycoris squamigera that blooms in August before the red Spider Lily. Another common name is the Resurrection Lily. The strange thing about these wonderful plants is that the foliage pops out after the bloom and is around through the winter playing out in the spring.
Lycoris aurea is a gorgeous species called the St. Augustine Lily. It has bold, yellow flowers that bloom about the same time as the red ones but with larger blooms. It should be much more popular with gardeners.
Remember to divide perennials, including Spider Lilies, opposite their season of bloom. Divide mature clumps about every five years or when they get too crowded. Divide by digging in the late spring as the foliage is dying down. Separate the bulbs and then replant.
Another good rule of thumb is to buy the bulbs in the season opposite their bloom. You can go to those wild stands that are blooming now, and either mark the growing spot for dividing later, or cut the blooms and move to your desired location. The bulb will survive, although it may skip one year of bloom.
Plant the bulbs about three to four inches deep. It is obvious that Southern gardeners like to let them naturalize under deciduous trees and in meadows. They also look very beautiful when mass planted in a group in beds. I have even seen some great looking beds where they were planted in a straight line like toy soldiers, a style I usually hate. Another way to use them very effectively is to include them in your ground covers like ivy or vinca.