Lycoris frustration

Jim McKenney
Thu, 05 Aug 2004 18:16:59 PDT
At 11:53 PM 8/4/2004 +0100, you wrote:
>hi all
>I have had Lycoris for a few years now and have never seen a flower. Any
>ideas? Should I lift them and move them?
>N Ireland

I want to second what Jim Waddick had to say on this topic. Mark, you don't
mention which Lycoris you are growing, but Martin Rix in his book Growing
Bulbs cites Lycoris squamigera as a good candidate for a Mediterranean
house. Rix's experience is probably based on conditions much like your own.

One thing to watch out for: Lycoris squamigera, unlike, for instance,
Amaryllis belladonna,  does not want dry summer conditions. The season 2002
was very dry here - it was a drought year. I expected to get a bumper crop
of Lycoris flowers. When they did emerge, the scapes were only six to eight
inches high and some were curved.  

I also thought this plant might be a good candidate for dry shade, shade
from deciduous trees. They didn't like that a bit, which surprised me
because their foliage is up and active long before the trees leaf out. 

Evidently they want the summer steam-bath treatment, a treatment which our
climate provides. 

I've seen two local gardens where these plants grow by the hundreds if not
thousands. Years ago, a friend's sister had purchased an old property with
hundreds/thousands of Lycoris squamigera. My friend wanted to plan her
wedding for magic lily season. She asked me, on the  basis of my experience
with these plants, to pick a date for the wedding which would coincide with
the blooming of the magic lilies. I got out my journals, checked the dates
over a period of years, and then suggested a good range for the wedding
date. Amazingly, I got it right, and the magic lilies were out in their
myriads for the wedding. 

Now, years later, I know just how lucky I was: they are a bit unpredictable
about when they bloom here. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where we call the big pink
ones magic lilies and the little red ones spider lilies. 

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