Plant Profile: Lycoris

 Carlton Hines, 2017 Henrico Master Gardener Intern

Lycoris is a flowering plant and perennial herb from the Amaryllis family. It is known commonly as the resurrection lily, surprise lily, spider lily, and/or hurricane lily. It grows by bulb, and never bears leaves and flowers at the same time. Its leaves are strap or lance-shaped, its flowers contain three to six petals, and their fruits are either in the form of fleshy berries or dry capsules.

Photo Credit: By Blue Lotus – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

Blue-green foliage grows in the fall through spring from a bulb, then dies back to the ground without a single bloom. After “taking much of the summer off” they suddenly erupt with growth. Within a 5-day period, they reach heights of 18 inches, boasting circular clusters of 2-inch-long flowers. The backward curving sepals and petals, combined with long, upwardly arcing pistols and stamens, resemble a spider. The flowers bloom for several weeks, coinciding with hurricane season. Only two species of Lycoris are readily available in the United States, which are Lycoris radiata and Lycoris squamigera.

Lycoris radiata are the least winter hardy species, growing in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 6-10. Bulbs require 9” spacing with the top ¼” exposed. They grow 12”-18” tall with an equal spread. Red, non-fragrant, showy flowers bloom between August and September in full sun to part shade with medium water requirements and medium maintenance. Flowers will prefer some shade in warmer climates. The naked flower scapes bear an umbel and 4-6 light coral red flowers. Leaves appear in fall, overwintering and lasting through spring. L. radiata are not prone to pest and insect damage.

Lycoris squamigera are more cold hardy, growing in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 5-9. Bulbs should be planted 5”-6” deep and spaced 6” apart. They grow 12”-18” tall with an equal spread. The naked flower scapes begin their growth in late summer to bear 4-7 funnel-shaped flowers that are fragrant and rose pink in color. Flowers bloom August to September in full sun or part shade with medium water requirements and low maintenance. L. squamigera is called the “magic lily” and is found typically in shady woodlands. Plants are not prone to pest and insect damage.

Photo Credit: By Namazu-tron (Self Shot) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Bulbs are best grown in organically rich soil in a sheltered location. They are effectively planted in open woodland gardens or meadows, with annuals, perennials, and groundcovers. They should be mulched in winter. The bulbs are very durable, tolerating poor soil and dry or overly waterlogged conditions. They may take a few seasons to establish, but over time will naturalize by bulb-offsets.

In warmer regions, growth begins in fall, enduring through spring. In colder regions leaf growth starts in spring. Leaves die back without too much of a mess, leaving a nitrogen-rich food source for its bulb. Harsh winters may diminish flower hardiness, which can prevent them from flowering the following summer. If growing in pots, bulbs require a large growing space with potential for deep root development. Containers that are too small will cause “failure to thrive” syndrome and not flower at all.

A Day in the Life of an AG Extension Agent

Today I’m starting a new feature called A Day in the Life of an AG Extension Agent.  I’ll use these types of posts to highlight an activity that has occupied my day.

Today was a new task for me!  This morning I, along with our summer intern and staff from the Henricopolis SWCD sampled corn to check for the pest Corn Earworm in ag production fields.  We sampled 5 corn fields in the east end of Henrico County.  Although we only sampled traditional ag fields, corn earworm can be a pest in the home garden also.

To find out more about the corn earworm see this page on the North Carolina State University Entomology site: .

If you have corn earworm in your home garden, you may find treatment recommendations in the Virginia Pest Management Guide: Home Grounds and Animals, Section 2: Vegetables, page 2-6.

Arbor Day 2016

It’s Arbor Day – when folks are encouraged to value trees.  So here is some information about trees!

  • k7310-2When property values are assessed, trees are part of the equation. Yes, there really is an equation. Learn more at .
  • Speaking of property values, The Henrico Master Gardeners have a Speaker’s Bureau presentation on Curb Appeal – Do you have yard envy?  Do you wnat drivers to stop and joggers to take a break in front of your house.  Learn how to design and maintain your front yard so you get this attention at your house.  This program, presented by Master Gardeners, is available to your garden, civic and community group in Henrico County.  Contact Marlene Larios at 804.501.5160 to schedule.
  • Tree SMARTS!  Our specially trained Master Gardners can offer assistance to Henrico residents by providing on-site consultations regarding the care and health of their trees.  You can find out more about our Tree SMARTS program, including an enrollment form, at .
  • The Virginia Big Tree Program’s website has been updated!  The site is now easier to use and looks better on mobile devices. Search a database of Virginia’s largest and oldest trees and enjoy statistics, photos and more information on these ancient champions. .  Unfortunately we don’t have any champion trees in Henrico…Yet!  Do you think you have a champion tree?  Search the register to determine if your tree is similar in size to the largest trees of its kind.  If it’s larger, nominate your tree!
  • Download a copy of the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Common Native Trees of Virginia book.

Quick Blog Post – Easter Lilies

Easter Lilies are a tough crop for a greenhouse grower.  Why are they a tough crop?  Because the Monday after Easter, they aren’t worth anything!  Timing is very critical on Easter Lilies.  You really only have a 1 week window where you can sell them.

lilyHere is a great article on Easter Lilies from Texas A&M.  In addition to some great history and other information about the lily, it provides great planting instructions so you can enjoy it for years and years as a perennial in your garden.

There is a shortage of Cauliflower…what should I do?!

A Shortage of Cauliflower?!

I recently came across a post on Facebook that was titled “Cauliflower is so hot right now you may not be able to afford it – or find it”. The post directed me to an article from the Washington Post. Essentially the article said that high demand for cauliflower and cool temperatures causing decreased cauliflower yields is leading to increased prices and limited supply.

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