There are two groups of lycoris (surprise lily/spider lily): those whose leaves emerge in fall (e.g., Lycoris radiata), and those whose leaves emerge in spring (e.g., Lycoris squamigera). The fall foliage lycoris (common red spider lily) is...
Read More About Lycoris
We continue to trial and propagate a huge selection of lycoris, which we will gradually make available. Traditionally, only a few species and cultivars of lycoris, such as the common red spider lily, have been available in America...however, several Asian lycoris selections are starting to make their way into specialty nurseries.
...winter hardy down to Zone 6b. However, the spring foliage lycoris can survive as far north as Zone 3. These charming bulbs produce red, pink, yellow, or cream colored flowers on naked stems during the late summer or fall. After the flowers are finished, lycoris bulbs grow leaves which hang around until late spring. Unlike most bulbs, surprise lilies have foliage that grows in the winter and goes dormant in the summer.
Lycoris prefers a part sun/part shaded site and although it can tolerate dry conditions, it will perform best with regular water, even when dormant. Lycoris leaves and roots are toxic, so deer and rodents leave them alone But butterflies love the flowers. try pairing your spider lilies and surprise lilies with plants that fill in when they are dormant like: small hemerocallis and zephyranthes or pair them with more permanent plants like small agave or graptopealtum.
When you are ready to buy lycoris for your garden, check out our online offering of lycoris for sale below.
Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery has been the choice of serious gardeners and plant collectors looking for the best and rarest perennial plants. We are pleased to have received the Perennial Plant Association Retail Award in 2011, the American Horticulture Society Commercial Award in 2002, and to have been selected as one of the Best Mail Order Plant Sources - Garden Design Magazine 2010. Welcome to our family of plant lovers!
We are pleased to offer a superb strain of the true Lycoris aurea that hails from China's Guizhou Province. The short green leaves, which emerge just after flowering in October, make a small deer-resistant clump of foliage usually persisting all winter and finally disappearing in late spring. From a seemingly bare patch of ground, the 3' tall flower spikes emerge in September, topped with huge 10" flower heads composed of brilliant, ruffled, golden-yellow flowers. Without question, this is the showstopper of the genus Lycoris. Plants from this population have proven to be reliably hardy into the single digits F in our trials. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
We are ecstatic to be able to share this rare lycoris, sent by the late Japanese bulb breeder and biochemist, Dr. Shuichi Hirao, to the late US lycoris breeder, Sam Caldwell, under the code #251. It appears to us to be a cross of Lycoris longituba x Lycoris sprengeri...the same parent of the famous Lycoris x squamigera. We strongly suspect this may be the Japanese clone that was later named Lycoris 'Blue Pearl', but we will not know for sure until we flower the two side by side. Compared to Lycoris x squamigera, Lycoris 'Hirao Blue' is shorter at 20" tall, the flower is much more blue than pink, and the petals are slightly narrower. After the midsummer flowers, the foliage remains dormant until spring, when the strap-like green leaves appear. Thanks to lycoris collector, Glen Melcher, for making these available. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This rare, naturally-occurring hybrid surprise lily (Lycoris straminea x Lycoris radiata var. pumila) is found in the Chinese provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. It was first imported to the US in 1948 and named in 1957 by Dr. Traub in honor of bulb collector Cecil Houdyshel. The frilly, light-yellow flowers top the 20" tall stalks that seemingly appear from nowhere in mid- to late-August. Emerging from the center of the petals are long stamens, often tinged in light pink, like eyelashes on a lady of the evening. After flowering, the deer-resistant winter rosettes of 15" long basal leaves emerge in late September and persist all winter. This has been a superb and reliable bloomer for us. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This deer-resistant southern heirloom bulb is one of the most popular plants in old southern gardens. The small, narrow, strap-like, blue-green leaves of Lycoris radiata go dormant in early spring. Then, seemingly out of nowhere in August, the 15" tall spikes emerge from underground, topped with a deciduous azalea-like flower of bright red. After the flowers of the red spider lily fade, the leaves emerge again and persist until spring, producing food for next year's flowering. Lycoris radiata doesn't always flower every year...we feel the flowering is probably controlled by aliens who like to torment Earth-bound gardeners. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Propagated from bulbs we received from China in 2008, this lycoris represents new genetics for Lycoris radiata var. pumila, a plant that has long been cultivated in the southeastern US, hence the new cultivar name. Lycoris 'Fire Engine' begins flowering for us in late August with magnificent heads of heavily-ruffled fire engine red flowers. The most unique feature of this form is the purple-black 18" stalk that supports the flower. We assumed these were seedlings, but the uniformity made us reconsider that assumption. Like typical Lycoris radiata, the green ribbon-like fall foliage emerges in mid-October and lasts until April. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(aka: Lycoris radiata 'Plenum') Oh my! You've got to hand it to those Japanese nurserymen who have an amazing penchant for discovering the most unique horticultural treasures. Lycoris radiata 'Fireworks' is a double-flowered selection of surprise lily, whose flowers appear seemingly overnight atop the 15" tall stalks in September. To me, the flower heads of Lycoris radiata 'Fireworks' resemble a young Phyllis Diller...does anyone remember Phyllis? After flowering, the dark green deer-resistant basal leaves emerge, which remain evergreen until late spring when they go dormant. These are in very limited supply, so don't delay if these float your proverbial boat. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This batch of lycoris is one that we originally got from China in 2003. These Lycoris radiata var. pumila represent different genetics from the plants that are typically offered for sale in the US. Lycoris 'Red China' is a late August (NC) cherry-red flowering strain of unique seedlings. After flowering, red surprise lilies rest until the narrow strap-like green leaves emerge in mid-October. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
We are pleased to share another in our increasing line of wonderful August flowering surprise lilies. The short lily-like leaves of Lycoris sanguinea var. kiusiana appear in late winter/early spring and go dormant by early summer. In midsummer, 1' tall stems appear seemingly overnight, and the flowers burst forth like a giant orange starburst. A mass of Lycoris sanguinea in the woodland garden is quite stunning. Remember that surprise lilies often take a year or two to settle in before deciding to flower, but summer moisture will greatly enhance summer flowering. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Lycoris squamigera is certainly the most well-known and easiest-to-grow of the surprise lilies. The robust, 24" tall, "nekkid" scapes emerge from dormancy in late summer, topped with large, clear pink, outward-facing flowers. Lycoris squamigera is great mixed into the border for a summer change or naturalized in the woodland garden. After flowering, the grey-green, strap-like foliage emerges to produce energy for next year's flowers. In the Raleigh garden of the late garden writer, Elizabeth Lawrence, (whose home sold in the '40s and later became a fraternity house), a row of these still persists. This is a very long-lived and durable deer-resistant lily for a wide range of garden soils and sites. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This is a rare surprise lily, imported from China in the mid-1990s by Dr. Jim Waddick. This clone is so exceptional, that we have given it the name Lycoris 'Buttermint'. The 20" flower stalks emerge from bare ground in late August, topped with large 6" flower heads of narrow, ruffled, light creamy-yellow flowers, occasionally tinged with pink as the flowers age. Our 10-year-old clumps are absolutely stunning! After the flowers finish, the bulbs produce short, strap-like basal green leaves in October. Soils that don't dry out for long periods of time in summer produce the best flowers. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Lycoris x houdyshelii 'Golden Panda' is our first clonally propagated selection of the wonderful Chinese surprise lily. Lycoris 'Golden Panda' emerges sans foliage in early September with 20" tall stalks ending in a large frilly flower, composed of narrow striped petals with a dark yellow center surrounded by a lighter yellow border. Like other sex organs, the stigma tips take on a dark pink tinge as they age. The foliage follows the flowers in late October and remains green until spring. Some sunlight when the foliage is green is essential for good growth and flowering. Our supplies are limited and this will not be offered again for several years. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
I was at the garden of Texas plantsman Greg Grant when I first saw the peppermint surprise lily. I had grown lots of surprise lilies, but nothing like Lycoris incarnata. The Chinese Lycoris incarnata, from Yunnan and Hubei Provinces, produces 20" tall stalks in August with 6-9 frilly white flowers, with a red stripe down the center of each petal. Even before the buds open, Lycoris incarnata is truly superb...vaguely reminiscent of a miniature, lacy "milk-and-wine" crinum lily. To flower well, Lycoris incarnata seems to need a dry period during the summer months. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)