October 29, 2017
This time of year, many gardeners are doing double takes as the naked ladies start parading around. Now you may be thinking that I’m just a dirty old man, but that’s not the point. The nekkid ladies, which is really fun to say, are really good landscape plants. The most common variety I see is Lycoris radiata. Lycoris also has other common names like surprise lily or resurrection lily. These names refer to what may seem like an odd way of growing. In the late summer and through the fall, Lycoris produces tall flower stalks without any foliage; hence the naked reference. After the flowers have faded, the strap-like foliage will appear to replenish the bulb’s energy supplies, always fading away by late spring. The flowers themselves are exotic looking and spidery; in fact another common name is spider lily. Flower color varies by species but we see mostly the red Lycoris in Mississippi, however there is a less common yellow selection. Lycoris is hardy through at least Zone 6. This is a popular long lived southern heirloom and it’s common to see Lycoris growing in large clumps around abandoned home sites and cemeteries. Plant these easy to grow bulbs in the fall in a sunny location. Then enjoy being surprised by nekkid ladies in your garden for years to come. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.