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Publication #FPS-621

Zephyranthes spp. Rain Lily1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

These dainty, funnel-shaped blooms pop up seemingly overnight after a heavy rain when grown in the wild, appearing in various shades of white, yellow, pink, rose, red, or orange (Fig. 1). In cultivation, rain lily will flower throughout the year if kept alternately wet and dry with the majority of blooms produced in late summer or early fall. The narrow, grasslike foliage blends in well in rock gardens, borders, or it can be used in containers.

General Information

Scientific name: Zephyranthes spp.

Pronunciation: zeff-fer-RANTH-eez species

Common name(s): rain lily

Figure 1. 

Rain lily


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Plant type: bulb/tuber; herbaceous

USDA hardiness zones: 7B through 11 (Fig. 2)

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


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Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round

Origin: native to Florida

Uses: naturalizing; edging

Availability: grown in small quantities by a small number of nurseries

Description

Height: .5 to 1 feet
Spread: .5 to 1 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: most emerge from the soil, usually without a stem
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches; 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: orange; pink; red; yellow; white; rose
Flower characteristic: summer flowering; fall flowering; spring flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: unknown
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; clay; sand; acidic; loam; slightly alkaline
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 6 to 12 inches

Other

Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Growing in full sun or partial shade, rain lily is tolerant of various soils and is moderately salt-tolerant. Bulbs can be left in the ground over winter if they are mulched heavily, or they can be lifted and replanted in the spring.
Zephyranthes candida has dainty, white, late-summer to spring blooms; Zephyranthes rosea has rose-pin blooms in late summer; and Zephyranthes sulphurea has soft yellow, mid-summer blooms.
Propagation is by seed or division.
Problems include maggots and chewing insects.

Pests and Diseases

Botrytis may be a problem.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS-621, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date October 1999. Revised May 2007. Reviewed June 2011. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.