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Friday, April 3, 2015

Flower Friday: With spring rains come beautiful rain lilies!

Rain lily bloom. (Photo by Lisa Roberts)
Rain lily (Zephyranthes atamasca)

Rain lily is a short-lived perennial wildflower. Its showy, solitary flowers are white (although sometimes tinged with pink), and have bright yellow stamens and 6 distinct lobes that unite at the base to form a funnel. They are borne on leafless stalks.  Leaves are basal, and linear or grasslike in shape. They arise in clumps.

As the common name suggests, rain lilies typically bloom after a rain shower. Flowering can occur in late winter through early summer, but their tendency to bloom around Easter has earned them another common name — Easter lily.

 
Rain lilies in bloom along SR267 in Leon County.
(Photo by Eleanor Dietrich)
Rain lilies occur naturally in slope forests, moist flatwoods, river swamps and floodplains, shaded limestone outcrops, along roadsides and in ruderal areas. It is a threatened species in Florida.

Family: Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis family)
Native range: Panhandle, north and central peninsula
Hardiness: Zones 7-10
Soil: Rich, acidic to slightly alkaline soils
Exposure: Full sun to full shade
Growth habit: 6-18 inches tall with 1-2 foot spread
Garden tips: Although rain lilies prefer moist soils, they do not do well in soils that are constantly saturated. They can, however, withstand sustained drought. They are a very hardy species and are a great replacement for the many non-native lilies that are commonly sold in big box garden centers. They make for a nice mass planting, and also work well in lawns as they can be mowed. Rain lilies can be propagated by seed or division of bulbs.

Caution: All parts of this plant are poisonous if eaten.

Rain lilies are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit plantrealflorida.org to find a native nursery on your area. 

To see where rain lily occurs naturally, visit
www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3473.

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