Why Won’t My Red Spider Lilies Bloom?

“I have red spider lilies that have never bloomed.  How can I get them to bloom?” Question from Teresa of Rincon, Georgia

Answer: Late-summer-blooming red spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) are really lovely with their bare scapes of spidery red flowers. Do yours produce nice, lush foliage early in the season, and have they been in the ground for long? Either way, there are several reasons why they may not be blooming.

1. Not Enough Time to Establish: These bulbs are finicky and don’t like to be transplanted, so it can take several years after planting for them to bloom in full glory. If you planted them within the last couple of years, give them more time.

2. Planting Depth: If your spider lilies are planted too deep, they may not flower. The necks of the bulbs should be just below the soil surface. Any lower and they may not bloom well for you.

3. Leaf Health: Damage to the leaves after they emerge in fall, too much shade (planted under evergreens, for example), or too much nitrogen could also keep plants from flowering.

4. Cold Days: Have your winters been warmer? You are right on the cusp of the right southerly hardiness zone for these flowers. Some list them as being hardy within USDA Hardiness Zones 6-10, and others list them as being hardy within Zones 6-9. If these days don’t get enough chilling days in winter, then this can keep them from flowering properly.

It’s also important to know their planting preferences. Site them in a location with full to partial sun and fertile, humus-rich amended with good compost, such as Black Gold Garden Compost Blend, or Peat Moss. Be sure to feed them with a fertilizer formulated for bulbs to encourage best growth and flowering.

I hope these tips help! Please feel free to follow up with any additional questions or comments.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith and Russell Stafford

Black Gold Horticulturists