Post last updated: September 2nd, 2019
Lycoris radiata, also known as Hurricane Lily, Red Spider Lily, and sometimes Resurrection Lily, Surprise Lily, and Magic Lily is a bulb plant. It often produces a flower stalk without any foliage, magically popping up out of the ground on 1 to 2 foot scapes and unfurling into an exotic flower for two weeks. Other years it doesn’t bloom at all. A pencil-width leaf with a silver-gray stripe running down the center appears after the bloom.
Hurricane Lily blooms in August and September usually after a heavy rain much like the Rain Lily, Zephyranthes. It prefers partial shade in soil that is moist but not boggy during the bloom season. It likely will not bloom the first year planted whether new to your yard or divided and replanted elsewhere.
Hailing from China and Japan, Hurricane Lilies have naturalized throughout the southeastern United States but also grows in California. It is poisonous and probably not a good plant to have around if you have a dog or other animal prone to digging. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions.
For more information, see the University of Florida’s Solutions for Your Life.
ZONES AND PLANTING
Hurricane Lilies are winter hardy from USDA Zones 5b down to 10. Above 5b, it should be overwintered indoors. Plant bulbs 9″ apart with the top 1/4 of the bulb exposed so the flower bud can develop.
MY ZONE 9a EXPERIENCE
Hurricane Lilies are a member of the Amaryllis genus with a growing habit similar to my Amaryllis Belladonna or Naked Ladies, Lycoris squamigera, a pink flowering bulb whose foliage appears before the bloom, and my Golden Spider Lily or Golden Hurricane Lily, Lycoris aurea, whose foliage appears afterwards.
Supposedly, it is quick to form large clumps because it spends no energy producing seeds. I thought it did produce seeds when I encountered what looked like green seed pods after the bloom faded but the pods ultimately withered away. One just never knows because the Southern Rural Route orbits the Crooked Moon.
The most likely method to acquire any of the lycoris bulbs is as a pass-along plant or through a mail order source. Mine was acquired in Texas through friends. I planted it beneath the shade of a cypress tree. I have ignored it at all times except when it blooms. I don’t fertilize it or cover it in the winter but it is in an area that gets occasional water. In the summer, when the bulbs are dormant, the soil should be on the dry side.
It does not seem to be bothered by pests or diseases.