Lycoris radiata

Lycoris radiata

This is an unusual bulb (ht 30-60 cm) belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family of plants and is sometimes known as the red spider lily. It comes from Japan. Its narrow ruffled petals and long whiskery stamens appear suddenly on leafless stems in March. They seem to flower best after a hot, dry summer; however, they are apparently woodland bulbs and are best grown in semi-shade with morning sun, with their necks buried. However, I have seen them flowering brilliantly in a sunny open area as well! They prefer to be left undisturbed to form clumps. They are dormant over summer until they bloom, so should be kept fairly dry at that time, but enjoy a little moisture during their winter-spring growing period. They lose their leaves in the warmer weather, and these do not appear until after flowering. They benefit from some bulb fertiliser when the foliage is in active growth. They are somewhat frost sensitive. They are excellent as cut flowers. They suit all but tropical or very cold districts. I love the element of surprise that these plants give in a garden - they can never be relied on to flower, but when they do, it is a thrill!

Flowers in March.