- Author: David Bellamy
We have reached the period at the end of summer when we, and our plants, are waiting for a little cooler temperature and wondering when we'll get our first rain since May. Then “Surprise”! Some Fall blooming flowers pop out of seemingly nowhere, often having no leaves at this time of year. What a delightful surprise! Here's a photo of one of my red spider lilies that recently appeared to brighten my day.
My mother grew Red Spider Lilies (Lycoris radiata) when I was a child. She started with 3 bulbs someone gave her and they bloomed the next year. She diligently divided them up after they bloomed and replanted in our front yard flower bed. After about 4 - 5 years she had a long 75' row of these that grew into bigger clumps after that. A hundred of those scarlet blooms are a real showstopper!
These bulbs are in the Amaryllis family and share their late summer or fall blooming characteristic with the very popular Naked Lady (Amaryllis belladonna). They produce narrow strap-like leaves in the spring, which die back once summer warms up. They do not send out leaves before the flower stalk emerges but may send up some more leaves afterward. Horticulturalists have developed colors other than the original red, including pink, white yellow, and blue. These new colors are a bit hard to find, so you may have to order them from a bulb company. They can be pricey.
Spider lilies are considered mildly poisonous, so don't eat them. In Japan, where it is called “Higanbana”, the plant is used to protect the rice paddies since it is toxic to rats and other wild animals. You may find the rice patties lined with these plants creating a striking view when in bloom.
It is also called Red Magic Lily and Equinox Flower. The plant was first found in Asian countries including China, Nepal, and Korea, and from there it spread to Japan, the US, and other countries around the world, encompassing many cultures and religions, where they are a part of many religious celebrations and traditions.
Popular Beliefs About the Meaning of Spider Lilies
- The red spider lily is often linked with sad memories, such as last goodbyes or the death of a loved one.
- White Spider Lily (Lycoris albiflora) represents the positive nature, freshness, and simply living life.
- Golden or Yellow Spider Lily (Lycoris aurea) is associated with wealth and richness. And symbolize courage, love, and wisdom.
- Blue Spider Lily (Lycoris sprengeri) represents truth and calm energy. It is also associated with stability in life, freedom of doing something, and of inspiration.