Frequently spotted on old homesites and in cemeteries, most are native to China or Japan. Narrow, strap-shaped leaves appear in spring (or in fall, in mild-winter regions); they remain green until some point in summer, then die down completely. Leafless flower stalks emerge after the foliage disappears. In late summer or early fall, each stalk bears a cluster of blooms with narrow, pointed, petal-like segments andin some speciesprojecting, spidery-looking stamens. Blossoms may be funnel shaped or have segments splayed outward or reflexed.
L. aurea. GOLDEN SPIDER LILY, HURRICANE LILY. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; or indoor/outdoor potted plant. Bright yellow blooms to 34 in. long.
L. chinensis. YELLOW SPIDER LILY. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. From China and Korea. To 2 ft. tall, with flat-topped clusters of golden yellow, 3-in. blossoms.
L. xhaywardii. Zones MS, LS; USDA 7-8. To 20 in. high. Magenta-pink flowers resemble those of L. squamigera, but petals are more deeply divided. Easy to grow.
L. incarnata. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. To 20 in. high, with clusters of fragrant, 3-in. flowers that open white and then turn salmon to rose colored; each petal has a darker stripe running lengthwise down the center.
L. longituba. WHITE SPIDER LILY. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. To 2 ft. tall, bearing pure white, long-tubed (at least 2-in.) flowers.
L. radiata. SPIDER LILY, HURRICANE LILY. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. The best-known spider lily, and the easiest to grow. Coral-red, 3- to 4-in. flowers with a golden sheen are borne on 1-ft. stems. 'Alba', known as white spider lily, has white blossoms. 'Fire Engine' has ruffled, red flowers on blackish stems. 'Fireworks' has double, red flowers. Species and selections take light shade. In the Upper South, protect with mulch in winter.
L. sanguinea. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. To 2 ft. tall, with 2- to 2-in., bright red to orange-red flowers.
L. sprengeri. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Rose-pink flowers with striking blue tips. Grows about 12 in. tall.
L. squamigera. MAGIC LILY, SURPRISE LILY, NAKED LADY. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Clusters of funnel-shaped, 3-in., fragrant, pink or rosy lilac flowers on 2-ft. stems. Hardiest species, old favorite.
Plant in late summer, setting bulbs in well-drained soil about 1 ft. apart. Keep tops of bulb necks at or just above soil surfaceexcept in coldest part of range, where tops of necks should be just under surface. Water regularly while plants are growing and again when flower stalks emerge. Disturb clumps (after bloom) only when you want to move them or divide them to increase a planting. Beyond hardiness range, grow spider lilies in containers, and overwinter them indoors.