P&PDL Picture of the Week for
April 20, 2009

Surprise Lilies

Mike Dana, Extension Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Dept of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

Many Hoosiers are familiar with the fall-blooming, pink-flowered  “Surprise Lilies” or “Naked Ladies” or “Resurrection Lilies” that seem to pop out of the ground in August without any plant around them, just the flower stalks (Figures 1, 2) .  Many may not realize that these bulbous plants produce leaves in the spring which die to the ground during summer.  This picture illustrates what a Surprise Lily (Lycoris squamigera) looks like in April, with leaves but no flowers (Figure 3).

There are several other interesting members of the genus Lycoris, all of which exhibit the naked blooming habit.  Sadly, all are less winter hardy than the familiar pink-flowered type. They will only tolerate winter cold temperatures that typically get no lower than 0º F.  Risk taking gardeners might try them in a protected location with extra deep winter mulch. 

The species include:
Lycoris caldwellii (Figures 4, 5)
Lycoris chinensis (Figures 6, 7)
Lycoris radiata var. pumila (Figures 8, 9)

Click image to enlarge

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

Figure 9


Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service