- Hurricane lily
- Surprise lily
- Naked lady
- Magic lily
- Pink flamingo flowers
- Resurrection lily
- Spider lily
Depending on the variety, surprise lilies are hardy in zones 5 to 11, but some may exhibit marginal hardiness in zone 4.
Surprise lily foliage is approximately 18 inches tall. The autumn blooms appear on stems that range from 15 inches to three feet tall.
Full sun to partial shade
Late summer into early fall
Surprise lilies are part of the amaryllis family, and you will see similarities in the appearance and growth habit of the flowers. Like the amaryllis, the surprise lily sends up a flower stalk at a different time than it produces foliage. In the case of the surprise lily, the foliage appears in late winter, when the gardener may not notice the growth or may mistake it for daffodil foliage, which it resembles.
By the end of spring, the surprise lily foliage will be dormant, and there will be no sign of the plant. In late summer or early fall, rigid stems bearing approximately five trumpet-shaped flowers per bulb appear in the garden. The blooms last for about 10 days.
Surprise lilies are low maintenance flowers. They don’t need any fertilization, and they don’t even mind unmulched soil. The unusual growth habit of surprise lilies helps them thrive in areas with rainy springs and dry summers, so they do not need any supplemental irrigation during their dormant period. In fact, excessive summer watering can cause the bulbs to rot.
Over the years, surprise lilies will multiply to form colonies. You can divide these colonies for yourself or a friend by digging up the bulbs after the fall blooms have withered. Replant them immediately so they can establish a healthy root system before the ground freezes.
- Pink surprise lily, Lycoris squamigera: The hardiest and most common, with pale pink flowers
- Red spider lily, Lycoris radiata: Red surprise lilies are only hardy to zone 7
- Red heart lily, Lycoris sanguinea: An orange surprise lily
- White surprise lily, Lycoris longituba: Hardy to zone 5, large petals resemble Asiatic lilies
- Golden surprise lily, Lycoris chinensis: Somewhat shorter but hardy and vigorous with bright yellow flowers
- Electric blue surprise lily, Lycoris sprengeri: Somewhat misleading name, as flowers are more pinkish-violet than blue
- Peppermint surprise lily, Lycoris incarnate: Not common in trade but worth seeking out for its deep rose and white striped flowers