Hymenocallis – Ideal Growing Conditions for Spider Lily

The Spider Lily stands out among the diverse flora for its unusual shape, exotic origin, and originality. Only some people know about this plant, but those who see it by chance will never mistake it for anything else. However, more than remembering its name is required to get it into your garden.

It takes its Latin name from the nereid Lycoris from Greek mythology. It grows wild in China, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. Local florists are not fond of lycoris because of its importance. This red flower is believed to grow where blood has been shed. It is also considered a symbol of separation and unhappiness.

This is due to a legend based on the following fact: the leaves of the plant die off with the appearance of the flowers, and when the flowering ends, they grow back. Thanks to this schedule, the leaves and flowers cannot "meet" each other like lovers doomed to eternal separation. It is also not uncommon to find spider lilies in cemeteries.

Description of Hymenocallis (Spider Lily)

Hymenocallis is identified as a separate genus within the Amaryllis family. More than 60 varieties are divided into habitat groups. The plant prefers the Americas, Africa, and India's tropics and subtropics. This fantastic flower is found at higher elevations along rivers or lakes, sometimes climbing up to 2.5 km.

An egg-shaped or spherical bulb with thin threads of spines represents the root system. An adult bulb can reach 10 cm in diameter. The top part of the bulb is often elongated and has a wide isthmus. It also covers the root leaves assembled into a rosette. The leaves are sword-shaped, dense, arranged in a plane, and reach 50 to 100 cm long. The leaves vary in hue from bright green to grey-green. The green shoots begin to emerge in April and wither by the end of August, although evergreen varieties can also be found.

The flowers have a very unusual decorative shape. They have a long tube with a heart-shaped like an open umbrella and very narrow, long petals. There are a total of six petals, which are bent outwards and reach a maximum length of 20 cm. The central corolla has six petals, which are fused, smooth or serrated along the edges. The funnel with the stamens attached to it is 5 cm in diameter.

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The stamens have prominent orange or yellow oval anthers at the ends. The flowers gather in large umbrellas or paniculate inflorescences, 2 to 16 in number. A thick, fleshy spike rises from the center of the foliate rosette to a height of about 50 cm. Flowering culminates in the formation of oval, juicy seeds.

Varieties and Striking Representatives

Hymenocallis, pleasant or beautiful, inhabits the dry forests of the Caribbean subtropics. This evergreen species reaches a height of 35-45 cm. The pear-shaped bulb has a diameter of 7.5-10 cm. The plant produces 7-8 leaves per season. The leaves are petiolate, oval, or lanceolate. On a 30-40 cm tall gray-green flower stalk, 7 to 12 flowers gradually emerge. Each is attached to a short pedicel. The snow-white flower has an open umbrella shape with long petals. The slender petals measure 9–11 cm in length, while the central tube is 7-9 cm long. The flowers have a rich lily-like fragrance.

  • Hymenocallis broadleaf is expected in the sandy areas of Cuba and Jamaica. The leaf plate has a concave central vein. The leaves vary in length from 45 to 70 cm. The stem can grow to 60 cm or more. The flowers sit densely in an inflorescence on a long flower tube (8-12 cm). The flower crown is shaped like a narrow funnel up to 35 mm in diameter, its edges solid and wavy.
  • Hymenocallis cordifolia differs from the above cultivars in its short heart-shaped leaves and drooping sepals.
  • Hymenocallis caribaea (Caribbean) is the most suitable for domestic cultivation. The long, dark green leaves and the umbrella-like inflorescence, with several large white flowers, are of high decorative value. Flowering usually begins in the winter months and lasts 12-15 weeks. Very rarely, Hymenocallis festalis forms inflorescences in the summer.
  • Hymenocallis festalis (Early) has dense, short, lush green leaves and large white flowers up to 10 cm in diameter. The snow-white sepals curl into rings, creating a magnificent frame for each 'umbrella.'
  • Hymenocallis speciosa (Beautiful) is highly decorative with large flowers and lush, dark green, lanceolate-shaped short leaves. Each inflorescence produces up to 15 flowers.
  • Hymenocallis caroliniana (Caroliniana) is a tall representative of Hymenocallis with long leaves and fragrant large white flowers.

Propagation Methods

Hymenocallis can be propagated through seeds or by splitting the bulbs in half. Seeds do not germinate well. They are planted in sandy, peaty, moist substrates. Germination takes 3 weeks to 2 months. Ensure that the young plants are well-lit and watered regularly and that the soil does not dry out. In hot weather, protect the seedlings from the midday sun, so the leaves do not get burnt.

Hymenocallis can be multiplied more easily by dividing the bulb. When the main bulb is 3-4 years old, baby bulbs with their shoots will begin to form near the main bulb. The plant is dug up very carefully, and the small bulbs are separated. They are immediately transplanted into the ground, so they do not dry out.

Types of Cultivation

Hymenocallis requires a sunny location or slight shading. A soil mixture of equal parts peat, sand, sod, and leafy mulch is prepared for the lily.Drainage should be carefully maintained.

Repot young perennials every 2 years and mature plants every 4 years. Repot during the dormancy period and prefer small pots. Tight containers will encourage active flowering. The plant needs regular watering, on drought, it immediately responds with withered leaves. During active growth, it is advisable to spray the leaves and stems of the hymenocallis, but the buds must not be moistened. 3 to 4 times a month during flowering and vegetation, it needs complex mineral fertilization. During the dormancy period, fertilize at most once a month. Organic fertilizers such as manure or leafy mulch are not well tolerated.

The best way to propagate Hymenocallis is to divide the bulb. When the main bulb is 3-4 years old, baby bulbs with their shoots will begin to form near the main bulb. The plant is dug up very carefully, and the small bulbs are separated. They are immediately transplanted into the ground, so they do not dry out.



The Spider Lily will only grow and flower well if it is optimally lit. Place the flower best on a sunny window sill that stays lit for most of the day. It can be taken out onto a balcony or into the garden during the warmer months.

Air temperature

When growing at home, Hymenocallis does not require a special temperature regime. The temperature in the range of 18-22 degrees is comfortable.


In Peru, Bolivia, and other South American countries, Hymenocallis grows near rivers and streams, constantly feeding the roots with moisture. Water frequently but in small portions, so the water doesn't stagnate in the pot. A drip tray and good drainage are essential. The spider lily should not be watered from when it sheds its leaves until new ones are formed.


Any ready-made bulb substrate will do. Add a little crushed charcoal to the soil to prevent possible roots from rotting.


Replacement of the soil and pot Hymenocallis needs infrequently. Repotting it once every 3-4 years is sufficient. For each transplant, the container is selected to be slightly larger in diameter and depth. The spider lily has a voluminous root system that grows quickly and requires space. When transplanting, the bulb's roots can be lightly pruned.


Fertilizing is required only during the active vegetation and flowering period. Prepared mineral compositions for indoor flowering crops can be used.


Spider lilies are very unusual perennials that belong to the amaryllis family rather than the lily family. Lycoris leaves have bright green coloring and can reach forty centimeters in length and only two centimeters in width. These plants sprout from planted bulbs in spring and are notable for their liking for warm areas. The bulbs are small, up to five centimeters in size, and should be handled very carefully, as any damage may cause the bulbs to rot and refuse to germinate. In midsummer, the leaves of the Spider Lily die off and a very fleshy stem, which has a circular cross-section, emerges from the bulbs. The stem is over half a meter tall but averages about 70
centimeters, and the long-awaited inflorescences appear at the very top of the stem. The number of flowers can vary from 4 to 7 depending on the age of the plant and its specific climate conditions, as well as the gardener's care of the plant, which is also important.

The buds are small, but the largest peak is blooming in September. The whole area is filled with a very spicy and persistent scent, which is generally typical of lilies and similar cultivars. The petals are lily-like, and the stamens are shaped like thin cobwebs. Color mainly depends on the variety the spider lily belongs to; it can be white, bright scarlet, mauve, or golden. Gardeners can select colors according to their interests and tastes. However, the blooms do not last very long, only a week and a half. Some varieties can bloom for up to a month, but again, this depends on temperature and climate conditions and on whether or not the gardener can give them enough care. Once flowering is complete, the small capsules that hold the spider lily seeds, which are small and black, appear. After wilting completely, green leaves emerge from the ground again and will continue in vigor until the
following summer flowering.

Of course, there are now wide varieties of spider lilies that vary in appearance, flowering time, stress tolerance, and susceptibility to parasites and diseases.


Can I touch red spider lily?

Never touch: The stems and petals of red spider lilies can make you break out in a rash, and the bulbs are toxic if eaten.

How to plant and care for spider lilies?

Experienced flower growers recommend planting the spider lily in early autumn. There should be about a month for the plant to have time to adapt to its surroundings so that it is more likely to take root before the cold weather and frost set in, which is extremely important. Of course, there is also the possibility that the spider lily (lycoris) will need to be planted in spring, but growing at this time is generally not desirable for this plant. Experienced growers attribute this to the fact that it will take a long time for the plant to take root, and it will be prone to various diseases, which will hurt flowering.

Where does the spider lily grow?

The red spider lily's original range is in China, Korea, and Nepal, from where it was later moved and naturalized in Japan, the USA, and other countries.