Stems rising from leafy clumps bear very fragrant flowers in summer; blooms resemble daffodils in having a center cup, but cup is surrounded by six slender, spidery segments. Deciduous species maintain foliage throughout summer if watered, then die back in fall. Plant in rich, well-drained soilin late fall or early winter in frostless areas, after frosts in other areas. Set bulbs with tips 1 in. below surface; space 1 ft. apart. Deciduous sorts can be dug after foliage has yellowed (do not cut off fleshy roots), dried in an inverted position, and stored in open trays in a cool, dark, dry place. These are pest-free plants; deer, squirrels, and voles won't eat them.
H. caroliniana. SOUTHERN SPIDER LILY. Deciduous. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to swampy woodlands of Georgia, Indiana, and Louisiana. Each bulb produces as many as 12 deep green leaves 112 ft. long, 12 in. wide. White flowers to 5 in. across appear in spring and summer, in clusters of two to seven. Multiplies rapidly.
H. coronaria. SHOALS SPIDER LILY, CAHABA LILY. Deciduous. Zones MS, LS; USDA 7-8. Rare species found in a few rocky shoals of rivers in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Straplike leaves up to 3 ft. long rise above water from bulbs anchored in soil between rocks. Groups of six to nine fragrant white flowers with yellowish centers, to 2 in. across, appear atop 3-ft. stalks from mid-May to early June. Each flower lasts one day. Species endangered by degradation of habitat due to sedimentation; do not collect plants from the wild.
H. eulae (H. galvestonensis). Deciduous. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Native to Texas and Louisiana. Blue-green foliage appears in late winter, disappears in spring. Flower stems to 20 in. high emerge in midsummer, bearing clusters of six to nine white flowers, each about 5 in. across.
H. x festalis (Ismene x festalis). Deciduous. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. A hybrid of two Peruvian species. Mid-green leaves can reach 3 ft. long. Erect stems hold clusters of 25 fragrant white flowers, each up to 6 in. across. 'Zwanenburg' has larger, fuller flowers with scalloped cups.
H. latifolia (H. keyensis). CAYMAN ISLANDS, SPIDER LILY. Evergreen. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Native to southern Florida and the West Indies. Clusters of 10 to 16 white flowers, each consisting of a 3-in. cup outlined by spidery segments to 5 in. long.
H. liriosme. TEXAS SPIDER LILY. Deciduous. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Native from Alabama to Texas. White, exceedingly fragrant flowers to 8 in. across are held in clusters of 8 to 10. Likes wet soil.
H. maximiliani. MAXIMILIAN'S SPIDER LILY. Deciduous. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. From Mexico. Dense clump of slender, glossy green leaves. Each stem bears a cluster of several 6-in., spidery, white flowers in early summer.
H. narcissiflora (Ismene calathina). BASKET FLOWER, PERUVIAN DAFFODIL. Deciduous. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Leaves 1122 ft. long, 12 in. wide. White, green-striped flowers to 4 in. across are held in clusters of two to five. 'Advance', a hybrid with H. x festalis, has pure white flowers, faintly lined with yellowish green in the throat.
H. 'Sulphur Queen'. Deciduous. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Primroselike yellow flowers, to 6 in. across, with light yellow, green-striped throats; up to six per cluster. Sweetly fragrant. Leaves are much like those of H. narcissiflora.
H. 'Tropical Giant'. Deciduous. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Reliable old garden hybrid often found on abandoned properties in the South. Excellent foliage plant, its glossy green leaves forming an impressive clump in the boggy conditions it prefers. Blooms in midsummer, bearing small-cupped, white flowers to 6 in. across on 2- to 3-ft. stems. Good in containers.