Smith County Master Gardener
They seem to pop up overnight, a complete surprise. In fact many call them surprise lilies —- very appropriate don't you think?
Lycoris radiata is as old as Texas. They were brought here by early settlers, planted and forgotten. They multiplied profusely and were passed along to friends and relatives in all parts of Texas.
Because of their prevalence and because they are pass-along plants, it can be hard to find them in a retail store. We are fortunate to have master gardeners who grow these bulbs and donate them for our bulb sale, which, by the way, is Oct. 13.
When I lived in Georgia, I heard Lycoris called British Soldiers.
My grandma called them Guernsey Lilies and she really loved them. My lilies are from hers. I have heard them called Surprise Lilies as well as September Lilies — all monikers very appropriate.
They will remain dormant all summer then pop up in September to surprise all who see them. I love to pick bouquets to bring inside and take them to nursing homes where they bring joy to older residents who recognize them immediately.
Plant the bulbs leaving the necks out of the soil.
They will grow especially well in heavy soil, but are not particular as to soil. The fall, winter, and spring rains will be sufficient and once dormant, need no water.
What a deal. No water in summer.
After bloom time, you can give them a sprinkle of 15-5-10 fertilizer if you wish, but they require nothing other than a place where they can grow without being disturbed.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants growing in the Tyler Rose Garden.