Surprise Lily, Resurrection Lily
Lycoris squamigera Maxim. is the correct and accepted name for this species of Lycoris. It was first described by Carl Johann Maximowicz in Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik in 1885.
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 20 accepted species in the Lycoris genus (as of 2-21-19 when I updated this page).
I am sure everyone has seen these flowers popping up in many yards in the late summer. They are known by several names including Surprise Lily, Resurrection Lily, Naked Lady, etc. My parents always called them Surprise Lilies.
For so long I have thought these plants were Amaryllis belladonna. It wasn’t until I was doing research for this page in September 2017 that I found out I had been wrong all this time. My parents always called them Surprise Lilies… I would have gone on believing they were Amaryllis belladonna until I was on the Pacific Bulb Society’s website. One of their articles said, “Amaryllis VS Lycoris”. SO, I checked it out… GEEZ! Was I in for a surprise! The flowers of the Lycoris squamigera were like the ones growing in the yard and NOT the Amaryllis belladonna. The first thing I noticed was the flowers on ours are rounded at the tip and the Amaryllis belladonna are pointed.
Apparently, the Lycoris squamigera is the hardiest of the Lycoris genera, USDA Zones 5-9 (Dave’s Garden says 5a-11). The Amaryllis belladonna is only hardy in USDA Zones 7b-10b. Ummm… That should have given me a clue before, but I had no clue there was even another plant that looked so similar. I did have Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily) in the yard in Mississippi, though.
HEIGHT: Around 24″ +
ZONES: USDA Zones 5-9 (0-35 °F)
LIGHT: Full sun to part shade
Amaryllis belladonna is native to the Cape Province in Africa. Lycoris squamigera and were thought to have originated in Japan or China. Some also believe they could be a hybrid between Lycoris straminea and Lycoris incarnata.
The Surprise Lilies are here on the farm just as they have always been. Actually, I am sure my grandmother planted them here in their backyard in the 1960’s. Every spring, the bulbs are among the first sign of life in the yard, along with the daffodils. Once the leaves die I just mow over them. You would never know there was anything below the surface until the flowers emerge in August from dormant bulbs. BUT, you have to make sure you allow the leaves to die before mowing over them. A couple of times I have mowed them before allowing the leaves to die and the flowers didn’t come up well, sometimes not at all.
Personally, I am not a pink person, so I probably wouldn’t plant any of these myself. BUT, if you are interested in this kind of flower, then I would highly recommend you plant some. No need to buy any, just strike up a conversation with a neighbor and surely someone would offer you some bulbs.
I hope you found this page useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Please click on the “Like” below if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below. They take you directly to information about the genus or species.