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Naked Lady

September 16, 2017


I have watched mysterious flowers appear randomly in yards every summer.  They are usually orange, but this year I saw pink ones in a neighbor’s yard.  I would like to have some and wonder if they can be purchased somewhere.  They resemble a lily.  


Without a picture, I think you are talking about Lycoris- common names are surprise lilies and naked lady.  While we do not have a common orange variety, the pink ones (Lycoris squamigera) are quite common and look just like a lily without foliage. The foliage emerges in late winter/early spring and lives for a couple of months, then dies back.  The naked flower stem appears with the blooms weeks later.  The red variety Lycoris radiata has foliage in the fall and winter which dies back in the spring. It remains dormant until the naked flower stem surprises you with red flowers in the fall. They are available at some MG plant sales in the spring or via catalogs.


April 1, 2016

QuestionI adopted a bucket full of miscellaneous bulbs from a friend of my mom’s last year and these bulbs have grown to leaves but no blooms. I don’t even know what they are. They came up with the hyacinths. The leaves are large, about a foot tall, with rounded tips. They are just filling this full sun bed but didn’t bloom, and now they’re drooping because I guess they’re past the blooming stage.  Any chance you can identify them so I can know why they didn’t bloom (too much sun, bad soil, too deep…)?

AnswerThe plants appear to be one of the lycoris or what is commonly called surprise lilies or naked ladies. I would say they are the naked lady type—Lycoris squamigera.  The foliage on these appears in the early spring, grow for a couple of months, then disappear.  In about 6-8 weeks, naked (leafless) stems appear with large pink trumpet shaped blooms.  If the foliage has been with you all winter, then it is Lycoris radiata or the surprise lily or red spider lily.  The foliage on these appears after bloom in the fall, persists all winter then dies in late spring.  Then in the fall, naked stems appear with frilly red flowers.  They are notorious for not blooming for a year or two after transplant.  Be patient, let the foliage grow as it wants, and hopefully you will see some surprise flowers later. 


(February 2010)

QuestionCould you let me know the best time to transplant naked lady bulbs?


AnswerNaked ladies is the common name for Lycoris squamigera.  They form the pink, trumpet shaped blossoms in mid to late summer.  The other Lycoris commonly grown in Arkansas is L. radiata with the red spider like blooms, commonly called surprise lily or spider lily.  It blooms in late summer to early fall.  The naked lady foliage usually appears in the spring grows for a couple of months then dies back waiting for the naked stem with pink blooms in the summer.  They can be transplanted either when the foliage is up or as the flowers fade in the summer.  They may not bloom for a year or two after transplanting, but should rebound after that.

(Jan. 2010)

QuestionWe live on a farm in Saline County and have many old surprise lilies and daffodils that we would love to transplant.  When is the proper time? All of them are in the fields and somewhat hard to find after blooming.  We are wondering if the lilies could be moved now?  If so, when would we replant?


AnswerThere are two types of surprise lilies or Lycoris that we commonly grow in Arkansas.  The red more spider-like lilies are L. radiata and they have foliage all winter.  The naked lady or pink surprise lilies L. squamigera put on foliage in the spring and then die down before blooming.  Lycoris lilies can be moved either while the foliage is up or when the flowers begin to fade. I would not attempt moving them while it is so cold, but as the foliage begins to die in late winter to early spring, you could do it then.   Replant immediately at the same depth they are currently growing. They may not bloom for a year or two after transplant, but should recover.  As to the daffodils, let them bloom and then dig and divide.  You can do so immediately after bloom and let the foliage die back where replanted, or allow six to eight weeks of green growth after bloom then dig and divide and either replant or store for a fall planting.  They need at least six weeks of good growth after bloom to replenish a flower for next spring.


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