Make Your Garden More Beautiful with Spider Lily Flowers

By Victoria Marsh
Red spider lillies

Known as old-fashioned favorites of gardeners around the world, spider lilies are gorgeous flowers that bloom when other blossoms have faded. Like magic, they bloom beautifully in late summer. Elegant and pristine, the spider lily plant is a joy to grow indoors. Whether you prefer the red spider lily to the white spider lily (or vice versa), it’s always nice to have these blossoms be part of your growing garden.

The spider-like blooms give spider lilies their name. These flowers produce a cluster of beautifully curled petals with long stamens that grow outward on top of a long and naked stem. However, they don’t have foliage when they blossom. Early in the summer, their leaves die, and you won’t see any signs of the plant until autumn rolls in. The colorful blooms come out of nowhere, but you love them all the same.

If you want to expand your garden from the basic trees and hanging plants, why not plant spider lilies in your garden?

An Introduction to the Spider Lily Flower

Spider lilies (also known as lycoris) is a bulbous perennial and a proud member of the Amaryllis family. These flowers are known for their umbels of funnel-shaped blossoms on naked stems, which appear during the early fall and late summer seasons.

The spider lily is an enduring perennial; they can only be divided every seven years or so. Though not an invasive plant, it’s a vigorous and fast spreader, so it’s wise to interplant them with perennials and annuals in spots where you want vibrant splashes of color. Butterflies, bees and birds love spider lilies, so they add more colors to your garden.

Although the flower is a native of Asia, the spider lily (particularly the red one) has become naturalized in the southeastern area of the US.

What Does the Spider Lily Symbolize?

white spider lillies

The spider lily’s meaning varies according to color.

For instance, the red spider lily has become closely associated with sorrow, death and the afterlife in some Asian culture. This meaning complements the poisonous nature of this red flower; after all, the red spider lily can be poisonous to humans and animals when ingested. If you consume the red spider lily, you might experience diarrhea, vomiting and, in the most extreme cases, paralysis or death.

Because of its dangerous character, countries like Japan and China traditionally planted red spider lilies around cemeteries to ward off scavenging animals. In Japan, mourners in burials use this flower as decoration for funerals.

In contrast, the white spider lily symbolizes life and healing. This popular ornamental flower thrives in warm climates and bright environments. Gardeners love the white spider lily for its elegant beauty and sweet vanilla-like fragrance.

Apart from red and white, the other colors of spider lilies are:

  • Yellow. The yellow or golden spider lily symbolizes, wisdom, love, courage and richness. It is also an attention-grabbing and lovely color.
  • Orange. The orange spider lily represents self-confidence, self-assurance, conviction, honor and wealth. The color is so beautiful and vibrant that it attracts many feel-good emotions.
  • Blue. With a blue spider lily, it’s all about calming energies and truth. The color is also associated with inspiration, positivity and stability in life.

What are the Best Spider Lily Varieties to Plant?

If you want to plant spider lilies, we recommend planting one (or all) of the following varieties.

Red Spider Lily

This red flower grows umbels of up to six red blooms festooned with long stamens that curl upward. Red spider lilies can grow more than 20 inches tall. In hotter climates, these red blooms put out the foliage in the autumn season and bloom all winter.

White Spider Lily

These plants have white blossoms in clusters of up to eight blooms with curved stamens. Each white spider lily has a pink stripe in its center. If you’re looking for an excellent cut flower, plant a white spider lily.

Naked Ladies

This spider lily variety grows strap-like leaves during the spring season (that vanish come the summer season). During autumn, the lilac-pink flowers bloom on top of 18-inch stalks.

How Do You Plant Spider Lilies?

Think your garden would look better with a spider lily flower or two? Plant one! It’s a seamless task, as long as you have the right tools and techniques. Here are steps to follow.

  1. Choose the right site. Spider lilies thrive in places with well-drained soil that is organically rich and has medium moisture. If your area is prone to wet summers, you can still grow your spider lily as a container plant. The best spider lily flowering also occurs in light shade or full sun, but if you’re planting a red spider lily, plant them in an area that has partial shade. Finally, spider lilies are best undisturbed, so make sure you plant them in the right place.
  2. Plant them properly. Once you’ve found the right place for your spider lilies, dig a hole in the ground and plant your lilies with their bulbs pointed up. Make sure their necks are above the soil’s surface. Avoid burying the top or the bulb; if you do, the lily won’t bloom. Finally, space the bulbs 12 inches apart.
  3. Water them regularly. After planting the bulbs, water them regularly and lightly until the bulb blossoms. Continue watering moderately during the growing season.
  4. Practice proper aftercare routines religiously. Withhold water during the summer season and let the soil dry out when the foliage starts to wither. Remove the foliage when it withers and yellows. Also, lift the bulbs and separate them for replanting every seven years.

Spider Lily Care

golden spider lily

Soil

Plant your spider lily in soil that is well-drained and rich in organic matter.

Water

During the summer season, the spider lily remains dormant but thrives in dry soil. Its deep roots let it tap into water reserves buried under the soil. Avoid overwatering your spider lilies during the summer to prevent bulb rotting. Once the growing season has started, keep the soil medium moist. If rain is absent, water the plant as often as needed.

Fertilizer

In spring, nourish the plant with a high-nitrogen fertilizer to give the spider lily the nutrients it needs for its fall and late summer growth. Once the flowers have bloomed, add a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorus and potassium to improve winter hardiness and encourage root growth.

Humidity and Temperature

After the flowers bloom, the spider lily grows new evergreen leaves that persist throughout the winter season until they wither in spring. In hardiness zones 7 and 6, protect exposed bulbs and leaves from the snow by adding a layer of mulch.

Pruning Your Spider Lily

Though spider lilies don’t require regular pruning, some gardeners prefer to clean up their flowers’ appearance. Refrain from pruning the flower when the foliage starts to yellow. Yellowing foliage is a sign that your bulbs are receiving nutrients for a better bloom in the next year.

Propagating Your Spider Lily

When your spider lilies have outgrown their space or developed large clumps, divide them and replant them in other locations. Propagate your spider lilies in the summer when the bulbs are in a dormant state. Depending on how many roots your spider lilies have, they won’t bloom in the same year. Wait for them to be fully established.

How to Pot and Repot Your Spider Lily

If the winter season is too cold for your perennial flower beds, grow your spider lilies in containers filled with rich soil. Make sure that the containers are deep and large enough for the roots to grow. If the container is too small, the flowers won’t grow.

Spider lilies are lovely additions to any garden. If you want to add another flower to your selection of blossoms, transform your yard with spider lilies.

Scroll to Top