In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
September, 2005
Regional Report

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Yellow spider lilies are just one of the leafless bulbs for fall bloom.

More Than Naked Ladies

Everybody has seen the fall-blooming red spider lilies, and their sisters, the pink trumpets that also stand up for everyone to see without a leaf on their stems. Thus their name -- naked ladies -- though gentle souls may prefer the alternative -- resurrection lilies.

Bare Stem Bloomers
Both red spiders and naked ladies are Lycoris, as is golden spider lily, and they are certainly among the easiest of all plants to grow, bulbs or otherwise. There are other bulbs, corms, etc., that also shine in late summer and fall. Most of them are readily available for planting now, too.

Guernsey lily (Nerine) flowers on leafless stems, and like the Lycoris, sends up strappy leaves shortly thereafter. The clumps grow over the winter and spring, then die back to prepare for flowering. Guernsey often has ten flowers on each stalk, a shiny white set of tubes with flared ends.

Good Companions
Lesser known but equally carefree is rain lily (Zephranthes), unusual because it blooms several times each year, typically right after a thunderstorm. The pink flowers have six waxy petals that stare straight up, basking in the sun that follows.

Peruvian daffodil (Hymenocallis) is a smaller, more delicate version of its native cousin, the white swamp spider lily. Its 2-foot clumps with finely cut, long-petaled, green-striped white flowers make a better garden plant than its relative.

Peacock orchid (Gladiolus callianthus) is the only one of these bulbs that is planted in spring, and even its established clumps can be divided in fall. Plant bunches of this single-flowered, brightly marked flower for best effect.

Easy Planting
These bulbs shine in the late summer and fall garden, yet they are not commonly planted. All that any of them require is soil that is organic and well drained, with annual additions of compost during the growing season and bulb food to bring on the blossoms. If you have a cut flower bed, a border with shrubs and daffodils, or containers of summer perennials, you have a place for these elegant, superbly simple flowers.


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