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Planting Surprise Lilies Lycoris squamigera

Add a bit of unexpected beauty to the late summer garden with surprise lilies.

Also known as autumn amaryllis and naked lady, they’re fun additions to zone 4 through 9 gardens. Mild winters in the south may prevent them from flowering in the southern portion of their hardiness zone. Just be patient and watch for their blooms the following year.

Like the colchicum, they send up their amaryllis-like leaves in spring. The long strappy leaves create energy for the bulb. You can cut the leaves back to ground level once they yellow and brown.

These bulbs thrive in full sun to light shade and most garden soils. Keep the soil somewhat dry when the bulbs are dormant. As soil moisture increases and temperatures cool, the flower stems, but no leaves, should appear. Then watch for the fragrant lily-like flowers to appear and brighten the garden.

A bit more information: Surprise lilies are also called Naked Ladies, Magic Lilies and Resurrection Lilies. They have been grown in Japan for centuries but first appeared for sale in America around 1880. 

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