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What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

Posted by ispahan 6a Chicago (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 19:25

One of the things I planted last spring were a few types of hardy lycoris. I have always loved these because 1) they bloom at a time when the garden is dry, dusty and tired, 2) even the supposedly common ones are hardly ever seen, and 3) although they are famously slow to establish, once they get going they will slowly multiply and live forever. In the right setting, they are true "legacy bulbs" that will persist with no care long after the gardener who planted them passes away. I wanted to share my experiences with these bulbs just in case any of you are interested in trying them.

I ordered Lycoris x squamigera, L. chinensis, L. x caldwellii to start with last year. The squamigera came potted from Plant Delights, the chinensis came potted from Fairweather Gardens, the caldwellii were sent as freshly dug bulbs from Telos Rare Bulbs, and I also ordered some additional squamigera bulbs from EdensBlooms. None of these bulbs were cheap. But it is interesting that I might view a $10-15 potted lycoris (a mere bulb) as expensive when I wouldn't bat an eye spending the same amount on a rose or peony, lol!

As expected, none of these really did much of anything last year. They can take anywhere from 1-3 years to start settling in, and it is said that bare root lycoris bulbs can sulk underground for up to two years before even sending up foliage. I was pleasantly surprised though that three clumps of L. chinensis sent up gorgeous bloom spikes in August. They each lasted for 2-3 weeks in spite of the dust bowl conditions they were blooming in.

I was a bit worried that I would lose these over the winter. Although temperatures in my area never dipped below 0 F, we seldom had any snow cover to speak of, and we had frequent, dramatic temperature shifts and countless freeze-thaw cycles all winter long.

Now that my garden is finally waking up, it appears that at least part of my worry was unfounded. About 100% of the potted Lycoris x squamigera and L. chinensis sailed through the winter beautifully and are up and growing vigorously. The L. chinensis clumps are already showing signs of multiplication, since many clumps have at least twice as many shoots as when they were first planted. A little less than half of the potted squamigera seem to have produced offsets, but the original bulbs are growing nicely and I am sure that over the next several years they will all turn into nice specimen clumps.

I do have concerns about the bulbs I received bare rooted, however. The L. x caldwellii were nice freshly dug bulbs but had most of the root systems trimmed off for delivery. So far, about 50% are showing signs of life. The L. x squamigera from EdensBlooms were firm and appeared healthy but were packaged like typical Dutch-grown daffodils and had no visible traces of roots. So far, less than 10% are showing signs of life. I am hopeful that more will appear as the soil warms up.

Granted, these bulbs have a reputation for sulking and pouting when transplanted but I can't help but wonder if buying container grown lycoris is the best way to go. I learned after the fact that lycoris are never really truly dormant and their root systems are always active. Trimming off any of their extensive, spongy root system puts them into a state of shock. And judging from the roots on the potted specimens I received last year, these bulbs have HUGE root systems, much larger than would be expected for a bulb of this size. Hopefully, most of these originally bare rooted bulbs are just sulking underground regrowing roots and perhaps will appear next year. I remain optimistic.

This spring I am adding container grown Lycoris sprengeri and hybrid 'Sky Over Sky' from Fairweather Gardens. In addition, I ordered Lycoris longituba from Brent and Becky's. These are supposedly grown locally and shipped right after digging in early June. Based on my experiences above, I am a bit hesitant about these bulbs since I know they will probably have a substantial amount of roots removed. I am keeping my fingers crossed for easy reestablishment. But if they don't do well, then I will only stick with potted lycoris in the future.

The link below is for the Pacific Bulb Society's informational page on Lycoris. If you click on "Garden Lycoris and More" toward the top of the page, you will be taken to an article by James Waddick that is perhaps that best piece of writing I have found so far regarding different types of hardy lycoris.

Also, here is a poor quality photo taken from my phone last summer of one of my blooming Lycoris chinensis scapes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pacific Bulb Society-Lycoris

This post was edited by ispahan on Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 19:31


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

Thank you so much for posting this! I think I have one!

We're rehabbing a very old property that has been sorely neglected and after a few years just cleaning up and clearing out trash, weeds, and poison ivy, we finally have a yard. Late last summer I had one of these, in pink, pop up in the middle of the grass. No idea where it came from or what kind of bed it must have been a part of, but it had to have been planted over 40 years ago.

I've only ever seen the one, but it bloomed very nicely, and I would love to identify it's name and plant some more.


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RE: What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

I am just looking into some of these plants. How did your non-potted Lycoris end up doing now that it's May?


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RE: What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

Hairmetal4ever, I just saw this post so sorry about the delay in responding. My bare root, Dutch grown Lycoris x squamigera had about a 25% survival rate and are significantly behind the potted Lycoris x squamigera in both plant size and vigor. The freshly dug Lycoris caldwellii had about a 75% survival rate.

I added some potted L. sprengeri about a month ago and they look happy enough.


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RE: What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

Ispahan - Thanks for this post. I had some L. squamigera at a previous house many years ago that came as unspotted bulbs, and while they took a while to settle in, after a few years they all grew and bloomed well. It's nice to see both that there are other options that may well be hardy enough for my zone, and an explanation of why I no longer see these sold in bulb catalogues. I will have to see if I can find some potted plants.


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RE: What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

About 10 years ago when I lived in OH, I was gifted a large trash bag full of mature, in-foliage L. squamigera bulbs that were dug the day before, as little root disturbance as possible in that situation, meaning that the roots were still there but most of the dirt had fallen off. I did get some blooms later that same year, and plenty the following year. These are big bulbs, if what one gets through mail-order aren't huge bulbs, I'd say they are just not mature yet.

I have bushels of L. radiata at this house, in the lawn. I've been digging them up and moving them to beds here & at my Mom's house. Most of this was done last summer, and most didn't get re-planted for about a week. Very few blooms on these moved bulbs but they are growing foliage well this spring. We'll see in the fall how the bloom show goes.

Sounds like these bulbs, unlike many others, are definitely not blasé about spending time out of the ground, need to be replanted ASAP.


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RE: What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

I have had L. sprengerii for a number of years, and divided the clump two years ago. The divisions have yet to bloom, but the main clump goes on. This Lycoris is unbelievably spectacular--cobalt blue flowers that slide into pinks and oranges. Gorgeous, gorgeous, but slow to enlarge.


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RE: What are your experiences with hardy lycoris?

Would anyone be able to tell me how to grow lycoris squamigera (naked ladies) indoors? I have about 8 mature bulbs I'll be planting outside today, and I'd like to see if I could grow one indoors. Any suggestions?


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