Two August Blooming Bulbs

Formosa lilies are beginning to bloom around the metro area

Formosa lilies are beginning to bloom around the metro area.

This formosa lily is over six feet tall when the bloom cluster opened

This Formosa lily is over six feet tall when the bloom cluster opened.

Magic Lilies is another late summer bloomer that is in the same genus as spider lilies

Magic lily is another late summer bloomer that is in the same genus as spider lilies.

My August garden has lots of things that are “summer tired,” but not my Magic lilies. They are bursting open in clusters of blooms, and that perks up my tired garden. While they have to be planted in spring, they are easily forgotten when you are ordering your spring bulbs. Like their cousin the spider lily, they may not bloom the first year they are planted, but as time goes by one flower stalk becomes several stalks and then they become a mass of flowers. Once the flowers finish, just like spider lilies, their foliage will appear. While spider lily foliage is narrow, theirs are much bolder and should be left along to die down on its own accord.
I cannot say enough how a thin spike of thin leaves can produce such a magnificent show. Formosa lilies just seem to spring up in a few weeks, and the blooms are show stoppers. They like part shade, and once they finish blooming they produce copious amounts of seeds (Martha Stewart has an excellent blog on how to grow the seedlings, simply titled Formosa lily). While I have not grow them from seeds, I want to add some to my garden. If you go to Birmingham Botanical Gardens, you can see some coming up and beginning to bloom in one of the islands just past the Garden Center. But the best ones to see, and the tallest, are in the Hulsey Woods by the Japanese Garden. They are scattered in the woodland areas.
Both of these bulbs can be bought in spring from companies like B&D Lilies, but I doubt you will find them in your local garden center. I really think if you can get a start of the magic lilies from a friend, you will have flowers quicker. And if you want to try growing Formosa lilies from seed, I am sure a fellow gardener will share their seeds. Both the bulbs are expensive mail order bulbs and will be slow to produce flowers.

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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