We often joke about Lycoris squamigera, those late summer flowering members of the Amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae, because when they bloom, the leaves are long gone.
Some people refer to these plants as Surprise Lilies because “surprise”, the blooms show up long after the foliage has died back. Others call them Resurrection Lilies because they die back and then the flowers shows up just when you’ve given up on them.
Yet others call them Naked Ladies because when they bloom, they consist of the bloom stalk and the bloom, but no leaves. The more genteel gardeners among us, me included, generally spell this common name as “nekkid ladies” when writing about them online in an effort to discourage people who have no interest in gardening from visiting our blogs.
We all want our blogs to be “search optimized” for the right reasons after all.
If you have Lycoris squamigera in your garden, now is the time to see the “clothes” of the plant, as pictured above. Some gardeners look at this foliage and think it is a clump of daffodils stubbornly refusing to flower. But if you look closely, you’ll see that the Lycoris foliage is more rounded on the tips than daffodil foliage. And of course, you’ll eventually notice daffodil blooms amongst the foliage of most daffodils.
One question that gardeners often ask is when is the best time to move a Nekkid Lady. I’ve moved mine twice. The first time I moved them was when I dug them out of another garden in May when they had foliage. Within a few hours of digging them up I had replanted them in my garden. The second time I moved them was when I renovated the bed they were in. That time I dug up the bulbs in September, well after they had flowered. After both moves, they went on to flower the next year.
As it turns out, though, neither May nor September is the best time to move these plants. The best time is June, right after the foliage has died back. Presumably the bulbs will be their biggest at that point. But even when moving Lycoris in June, some gardeners report that the plants sulk after the move and may not reappear for two years.
My two moves of these plants demonstrate that there is an ideal time to move a plant, and then there is the time when you have to move a plant. So you just move it and hope for the best.
The Nekkid Ladies in my garden need to be moved again for the new garden design. But this time I think I can wait until June when the foliage has died down. With this third move, I’ll try my best to find them a good, long-term home so they can settle down and provide me with blooms in late summer, and leaves in spring, for many years to come.