Special Flowers That Signal Fall

Spider lilies in full bloom

Spider lily buds

The white selection of rain lilies

Spider lilies in bloom means that fall is on the way. I must admit that I have them in random places in my landscape because they seem to bloom some years and others they skip blooming. Since they put up a scape (naked stem) to bloom, I never know where they are in my beds until they bloom. All of the classic red ones in my garden were collected in the Blackbelt or at my grandmother’s old property where their house stood many years ago. One of the biggest problems with spider lilies whether collected or purchased is often times they don’t always bloom the year they are planted, and sometimes it takes several years before they bloom. If you plan on collecting some or moving some of your existing plants, you have to wait until the foliage appears usually around here in late February. Dig the clumps and separate the bulbs. Plant everyone, and eventually they will bloom.
The opposite is true for rain lilies. They seem to bloom the first year after planting if they have good moist soil conditions but well drained. As a young man I collected these along the banks of the Cahaba River in Dallas County where there were masses of thousands. Today, I purchase them from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. The clump in the image above is about 4 years old and has had at least 15 blooms this year. While the spider lilies can be 12 to 18 inches tall, the rain lilies in my garden are generally 6 to 8 inches tall. So if you want a late summer to early fall bulb surprise, look for spider lilies and rain lilies in your summer bulb catalogs.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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