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Lycoris radiata

Previously known as:

  • Amaryllis radiata
Phonetic Spelling
LY-kor-iss ray-dee-AY-tuh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

The red spider lily is a cultivated, late summer blooming perennial bulb in the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family. The flowers emerge on 1 to 2 feet tall scapes in late summer to early fall. The blooms are an umbel with 4 to 6 showy striking red flowers, and each flower is about 2 inches long and has reflexed tepals with exserted stamens that resemble spider legs. After the flowers bloom and fade, the leaves will emerge. The leaves are grayish-green and strap-like and will remain evergreen over the winter and die back in late spring.

The red spider lily is native to China, Japan, Korea, and Nepal. It is usually found in shady, moist areas along slopes and rocky areas near stream banks.

The genus name Lycoris is in honor of the Roman actress and mistress of Mark Antony. The species name radiata is Latin for "spoke" referring to the flower tepals that spread out like the spokes on a wheel. These lilies have many common names like surprise lily, or naked lily because they lose their leaves and the flowers follow on naked stems leading to a surprise in the landscape. The common name hurricane lily is derived from the fact that the plants bloom during hurricane season.

Plant the bulbs with the neck exposed, spaced 6 to 12 inches apart, in rich, moist well-drained soils. In the dormant season it is best if the soil remains fairly dry. Situate the bulbs in full sun to partial shade, though the best flowering will occur in partial shade. This bulb naturalizes easily through offsets and it is quite long-lived. They range from semi-hardy (damaged below 28°F/ -2°C) to hardy (injured below 5°F/ -5°C).

In the landscape, it would be best to incorporate these bulbs in a mixed ground cover or flowerbed so that their starkness will not be so readily apparent. Mass plant it along a walkway, in a courtyard garden, in front of a border, or in other small spaces. It does well to naturalize or plant alongside a lawn. These bulbs require an extensive root system to produce flowers; therefore, if container planting is being considered be sure the size is adequate.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom: Late Summer and Early Fall      Foliage:  Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • flower appears on tall naked scapes from August to September as an umbel of 4 to 7 showy, bright red tubed blooms, recurved, and the stamens are exserted 
  • grayish green leaves emerge in October, remain evergreen over winter, and dieback in the spring

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems insect or disease problems. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

 

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Fire Engine'
    Bright red flowers
  • 'Red Sunset'
    Reddish Pink Flowers
'Fire Engine', 'Red Sunset'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#bulb#showy flowers#poisonous#small spaces#perennial bulbs#red flowers#mass planting#large flowers#summer bulbs#long lifespan#naturalizes#courtyard garden#naturalized area#gray-green leaves#border front#flowers late summer#walkway planting#butterfly friendly#flowers early fall#lawn planting#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Fire Engine'
    Bright red flowers
  • 'Red Sunset'
    Reddish Pink Flowers
'Fire Engine', 'Red Sunset'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#bulb#showy flowers#poisonous#small spaces#perennial bulbs#red flowers#mass planting#large flowers#summer bulbs#long lifespan#naturalizes#courtyard garden#naturalized area#gray-green leaves#border front#flowers late summer#walkway planting#butterfly friendly#flowers early fall#lawn planting#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Lycoris
    Species:
    radiata
    Family:
    Amaryllidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Japan, Korea, and Nepal
    Distribution:
    Native: China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Japan, Korea, and Nepal. Introduced: United States--AL, FL, GA, IL, KY, LA, and VA; Nansei-Shoto, and Seychelles
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Easy to Grow
    Bulb Storage:
    Store bulbs dry at 45-55°F
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Bulb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Flowers terminal, 4-6, nodding, on a naked stem 1 to 2 feet tall. Flowers are 6-parted, red, funnel-shaped, the lobes strongly reflexed and wavy. The stamens are exserted and resemble spider legs. Blooms in late summer to early fall.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Fleshy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are basal, narrowly strap-like, and fleshy. Remain throughout the winter and dieback in the spring.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Small Space
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Causes only low toxicity if bulb is eaten. Abdominal pain, salivation, shivering, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Lycorine, an alkaloid
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Roots