Atamasco Lilies

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)July 19, 2012

Hi, all. I am writing this basically for information for anyone interested in this bulb, since there is very little available, even on the internet. Since these forums regularly show up on Google, this seems like a good way to make it available.

Atamascos are in the Zephyranthes family. They are wonderful native bulbs and evidently impossible to obtain commercially. I got my first ones from an older woman here in town who said they were growing in the lawn of her antebellum home 60 years ago when she moved there. Can't ask for tougher than that!

They bloom very reliably at Easter each year. The blooms look very like Easter lilies but with a green throat in their large lovely white blooms. The foliage emerges each fall and looks rather like a broad bladed grass. After the bulbs bloom, the foliage lasts only about a month and then it neatly dies away and goes dormant. In nature, the plants grow in damp places like ditches and along creek beds. Mine grow well with morning sun and afternoon shade, but hers were in the middle of her lawn getting full hot Mississippi sun.

This past year, our church built a new sanctuary. The front of it is graced with a stunning stained glass window showing Christ emerging from the tomb. The windows on either side are filled with the brilliant colors of the sky and the bottoms are full of daffodils and Easter lilies. As chairman of the gardening committee, I wanted us to plant the lawn under the windows with daffodils and lilies. The trouble with Easter lilies is they don't bloom until June around here and then you have their ugly foliage standing for most of the summer. Then I remembered my Atamasco lilies: neat, easy, and reliable to bloom at Easter. But where to find bulbs? Evidently nowhere.

This spring, for the first time (that I have noted) my bulbs here at home made seed. I collected every pod I could and ended up with quite a good bit of it.

I know from past experience that zephyr seeds do best if sowed when they are fresh. So, I sowed it thickly into seed trays of Mircle Grow Potting Mix on my back deck and covered it with about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of soil. Then I began to water the tray every day. (Simple because I put the tray where the majority of my pots live.)

It took nearly a month for the seed to germinate, but it did! The seedlings look very like onion seedlings. They are hair thin little leaves and they aren't growing very quickly, but they are growing. When the leaves got about 3 to 4 inches high, I pricked them out into individual cell packs. I got 5 flats of seedlings! And, virtually all of them survived the transplanting stage. They are still out on my deck and get water daily.

I hope this post might be helpful to anyone interested in these bulbs. If you have experience with them, please feel free to chime in.

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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

I think you've added a new plant to my wishlist=) Found a bit more info on them in the link below.

Any chance you'd be willing to trade a seedling? I have Zephyranthes citrina (small yellow flowers) and Zephyranthes candida (white flowers, blooms after thunderstorms). Send me an email if interested.

Thanks for the great informative post!


Here is a link that might be useful: Zephyranthes atamasca

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 9:30AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Hi, all
As it happens, today I received an e-mail from an E-bay seller of bulbs in Florida. I have bought from him before and been very pleased. He has Atamasco Lily bulbs listed right now. Link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: E-Bay seller

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 8:04PM
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