Spider Lilies Say Fall’s Starting

Spider Lily Cluster of blooms. This has been planted in this location for several years.

Spider lily cluster of blooms. This has been planted in this location for several years.

Close up of Spider Lily Flowers

Close-up of spider lily flowers

Mass woodland planting of Spider Lilies

Mass woodland planting of spider lilies

One of the delights of many older Southern landscapes is the emergence of spider lilies. Their blooms are appearing across the middle and lower south now, and I must say it is one of my favorite bulbs of fall even thought they have a short bloom period. While there are red, white, and yellow types, the reds are the most common and easiest to grow. In fact, many gardeners think there are two selections of red ones; those that bloom in late August, and those that bloom around mid September. But I have never seen them for sale saying this is the early bloomer or this is the late bloomer.
The magnificent mass you see in the image above is in a friend of mine’s woodland, and while the blooms are slightly past their peak, it is one of the best plantings I have seen in the metro area. Mine (in the other images) were collected from my grandmother’s in Selma, which she grew behind the garage, and they were strictly for cutting to bring indoors. I have found many times when they are transplanted they may take up to two years before they start flowering, but since in late fall they put up their green “monkey grass” looking foliage, you know they are alive. Once you plant them, leave them alone until the clusters of bulbs are so dense that they stop blooming (which is a very long time). While this is a great pass along plant (as the bulbs are very expensive), you can find them in some garden centers and also can be ordered from the Southern Bulb Company. To me they are worth the wait, and I feel like they just pop up and bloom overnight.


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.

14 thoughts on “Spider Lilies Say Fall’s Starting

  1. I received some red spider lilies from a friend in a lovely pot. They were already blooming in the pot. Now they are dying back and I’d like to know how and when to put them in my yard. I need an expert’s advice.

  2. We live in Clanton AL and have just received several spider lily bulbs from a friend and need to know if I should plant now. That roots are growing in the bags.

  3. General wisdom on their blooming is that they like to be crowded to bloom. I got a few from my grandmother many years ago and now they surround the house. They’re spread out enough that I try to separate only one grouping of them at a time.
    And you can move these any time after the leaves have faded.
    One other thing that makes them easy to grow. I have found some that were obviously planted too deeply actually formed another bulb up a few inches.

    • Well, depends on what. For trees and hardy shrubs I like for it to be cool or cold with daily highs not above the 60’s. For perennials, the best time is when they are dormant but I have done them in almost every season.

  4. So glad to read this. I was very disappointed that several I transplanted to my new home had not bloomed. But you just calmed me by saying they sometimes don’t bloom the first year or so. I have been watching daily for flowers. Now I’ll just have to watch for foliage to be sure they are still ok before I try to replace them.
    Thanks for this info. Love reading your posts.

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