Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lycoris... Plants I Mean To Grow

For the gardener, winter is a time for planning; or perhaps it's dreaming... many winters have come and gone, and I'm still "planning" on trying to grow a variety of lycoris bulbs. I've certainly had Lycoris squamigera for a long time; it's been moved through several gardens, and the original bulb came from my Mother's garden. She had grown this variety for about thirty years when I took an offset, and I've grown it for another twenty. In my earlier gardening years, I had the impression that squamigera was the only hardy lycoris (of course, I was then gardening in a true zone 4). It seems though that there is some hope, now that I'm in zone 5, that I could grow other types. Lycoris, natives of east Asian highlands, are known for blooming on naked stalks either before or after the foliage... the varieties with spring foliage are the ones that have a chance here; the lycoris that bloom in the fall and then put up their foliage, which persists through the winter would seem to be lost causes for colder climates, though albiflorus, with fall arising foliage, I know is hardy in St. Louis (admittedly a world away from us in terms of soil temperatures in winter). Other fall foliage types include aurea, straminea, houdyshelii, and the bright red hurricane lily of the south, radiata. This leaves quite a number of spring foliage types to consider: sprengeri, the blue-tipped lycoris would seem the best bet... it has smaller, blue-washed flowers, and zone 5 hardiness is claimed. Lycoris sanguinea has orange flowers and is rated as hardy as zone 5. A number of Lycoris are rated as zone 6: longituba with white flowers, chinensis with spidery yellowish flowers that bloom earlier than squamigera, and incarnata with peppermint-striped flowers. There are several mailorder nurseries with good selections of lycoris: Plant Delights Nursery, Asiatica, and Bulbmeister come to mind, with the latter having quite a large variety. These are not small plants when in foliage, but with proper placement, I should be able to squeeze in at least one: the winter planning goes on!Posted by Picasa

In the south, we call these Surprise Lillies!
A stand of these is very elegant, in my opinion!
Sissy... my Mom used to call them rain lilies (which, being from the south you know they're not), but lots of other people called them that, too... also August lilies, surprise lilies. I've never heard anybody in the midwest call them naked ladies... not considered proper here.
I made a correction in the lycoris post: I had listed L. rosea as a spring foliage variety, but it's fall foliage, so I removed it... I saw where somebody grows it in St. Louis, so assumed it was spring foliage.
My mom calls these "naked ladies", since the blooms come up "naked" without foliage. I live in zone 4, sandy soil, and they do great for me along the southern side of the house. In fact, I had to divide them 2 years ago. I don't know the exact cultivar, as these came with the house, but the blooms are a soft pink and very fragrant.
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