It's Hurricane Lily Season
People get clues about the weather all the time without the help of a TV, smart phone, or website. Some observe the color of the morning sky. Some read the shapes of clouds, while others smell rain on the wind. And if you live in Florida and see flowers like the ones above popping from the ground, you know to stay vigilant. They're telling you it's hurricane season.
These pretty bulbs (Lycoris radiata) go by the name of spider lily in most parts of the South, because of their long, spidery stamens. There's no sign of them during their dormant period from late spring to late summer. Then, several days after a heavy rain from August to October, their leafless flower stems appear overnight.
You know what brings heavy rain in Florida (and other states too)? Hurricanes. The coincidence of storm and flowers leads Floridians to call these bulbs "hurricane lilies." Most spider/hurricane lilies are red, but Lycoris aurea is bright yellow.
WATCH: 10 Essential Things To Do Before A Hurricane
Now is a good time to plant – unless, of course, you're under evacuation orders. (Side note: Anyone planning to name their new baby "Dorian" should seriously reconsider.) Then it can wait a week or two. Plant the bulbs about three inches deep and 12 inches apart in well-drained soil in full to part sun. Don't expect blooms the first year. Narrow, strap-like green leaves with a silver streak down the middle will emerge instead, remain all winter, and then wither and disappear in late spring. If you can't find the bulbs at local garden centers, High Country Gardens is a good online source.
Plant these lilies where you can leave them for years. While they need little care, they don't like being transplanted and may respond by skipping the next bloom. Wait to remove the foliage until after it withers. If you have trouble remembering where they are after they die down, mark them so you don't dig into them accidentally later on. Happy bulbs will multiply over the years and form large clumps with blooms standing 12 to 24 inches tall. They're hardy in USDA Zone 6 to 10.
You may now resume watching Jim Cantore knee-deep in the storm surge.