Winter Care of Potted Rain Lilies

jay_7bsc(8a)February 2, 2010

Last spring, I bought a few rain lily bulbs (_Zephyranthes sp._) and grew them in a couple of clay flowerpots during the summer and fall. Sometime in December, I moved the pots indoors for the winter and, right now, have them sitting on the counter in the bathroom. I'm keeping the pots watered, and the foliage is still green. Should I stop watering these rain lilies so that the foliage will ripen and die back? Or should I continue watering them till they go back outside when the weather warms up? I think they're hardy enough to be grown outdoors in our USDA Zone (7B), but I haven't gotten around to planting them in the ground yet.

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tugbrethil

Which species? Z. candida, many of its hybrids, and a few other species take year-round moisture pretty well. Many other species won't bloom unless they have a month or two of complete dryness.

Kevin : )

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 10:11PM
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jay_7bsc(8a)

All I know about these rain lilies is that they are pink and are from McClure and Zimmerman. To help them bloom, I should withhold water? Should I also put them in a dark place while the foliage dies back?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 9:45AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have lots of those in my yard. Some even came from McClure and Zimmerman. Although the green tops of all my zephyrs got freeze burned badly this year, they are beginning to put out fresh growth. Since yours have been inside all winter, I would keep them in till the end of the month, OR till the extended forecast shows temperatures moderating so that nightly lows are not lower than 20. Once you get to there, plant them out as soon as possisble. I would plant the entire pot in one spot. They make a much prettier show as a clump. If you spot some of the white ones: zephyranthes candida, buy some of them too. They are far more floriferous than the pink ones.

P.S. To my knowledge my zephyrs never ever get completely dry in my yard. Certainly not in our wet winters. They seem to thrive on the wet. No worries.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 2:09PM
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jay_7bsc(8a)

Dear donnabaskets,
Thanks for the useful information on the outdoor cultivation of rain lilies. I'll take your advice. It looks as though our growing conditions are similar. Have you grown any of the rain lilies with the Latin name _Habranthus_? What about the Atamasco lilies that are so pretty on the Southeastern Coastal Plain in the springtime?
I'd like to try some of them in Zone 7B, but I'm not sure how they would do. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Re: Narcissus foliage burn. I suspect that your bulbs are still alive, but it looks as if the foliage burn would reduce the amount of nutrients needed to sustain the bulbs' health. The bulbs may be weakened and go into a decline without adequate production of whatever nutrients the foliage provides. I'm sure you're familiar with Brent and Becky's Bulbs in Virginia. A few years ago, I ordered a few 'Scilly Isles' narcissi from them. This narcissus variety seems to have more cold-tolerant foliage than some. Its leaf tips will sometimes suffer winter damage, but it's generally very minor damage. This variety blooms well for me (Knock wood!)--white petals with a light yellow cup, multiple flowers per stem, and a fine fragrance. We've had a few thirteen degree nights this winter, and I'm certainly eager for the weather to moderate. Yesterday, I noticed early daffodils in bud. They should be opening their buds in just a few days.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 2:52PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I do grow Habranthus. And Atamasco lilies too. The habranthus blossoms fade an awful lot in our hot summer. I much prefer the pink zephyrs to them. They grow in the same conditions in my garden as my other rain lilies: full sun with water throughout the year. My soil is amended clay.

Atamascos are particular favorites of mine. I have them on the eastern side of my house where they get morning sun and afternoon shade. This bed gets irrigation in the summer and, of course, our winters are wet. The foliage is bright green and glossy. It comes up in the fall and stands through the winter. Bloom is in early to mid spring. The blooms are beautiful: sparkling white with a chartreuse throat. They are very similar to crocus, but larger. I am planning this spring to divide them and move them into my white border. I have never seen them for sale. An elderly woman in our town gave them to me one spring. (She called them "Easter lilies" because they bloom around Easter.) She said they were growing in her yard when she and her husband moved there more than fifty years ago. Her house was one of the few structures left standing in our town after General Sherman came through during the Civil War. I had no idea what they were, and it took more than a year to get an identification.

Thank you for your thoughts on my Grand Primos. I saw bloom buds rising from a couple of them yesterday, so I am hopeful that they will survive. I have only had them a year and they were showing several new sets of leaves this winter, so I was thrilled that they were going to increase rapidly.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 9:23AM
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jay_7bsc(8a)

I recall seeing beautiful drifts of Atamasco lilies blooming around the swamps of deep South Georgia--also that many South Georgians call them "Easter lilies." I think Woodlanders may be a nursery source for Atamascos, and maybe Plant Delights.

Late yesterday afternoon, I checked on one of our two clumps of 'Scilly Isles' narcissi and found the foliage to be lush and green with no winter burn.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 10:23AM
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