How to Plant and Care for the Red Spider Lily

Red Spider Lilies

If you're looking for a late bloomer that provides color to your yard in the fall, consider adding the Red Spider Lily to your backyard landscape. This colorful flower is easy to grow in most conditions, so if you have an area that is difficult to plant due to poor soil, this may be just what you are looking for.


Similar to tulips, the Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) does not produce seeds to start new plants. Instead, you'll be planting bulbs, with the optimal time to plant usually being spring, although you can plant the bulbs during the summer months.

Each bulb needs to be planted right side up. The more pointed end is considered the top. The bulb should be planted about three inches deep, or at a depth about three times the height of the bulb. The plant does well in most types of soil, however, it may be benefitial to add a small amount of bone meal fertilizer into the bottom of the hole before placing the bulb inside. Space bulbs at least eight inches apart. Red Spider Lilies can be planted in sunny areas or shady areas, however, according to, plants grown in the shade will bloom two weeks earlier than those grown in the sun. Try planting bulbs in both sunny and shady areas to stagger the amount of plants blooming throughout the month.

Caring for the Plants

Once the bulbs are planted, water them about once a week unless you live in an area where it rains frequently. When the plants are in full bloom, you should increase the watering to every day or every other day to extend the life of the blooms.

Once the blooms fade away, the plants start to grow leaves from the tops of the flower bulbs. The foliage forms a thick mound with green leaves that are eight to twelve inches long and have a light colored stripe along the center. Red Spider Lilies have this foliage from October to the beginning of summer of the following year, when the leaves begin to turn yellow and dry up. At this point, it is okay to prune the withering foliage.

Other than providing these plants with adequate water, Red Spider Lilies are very hardy flowering plants that need little care when planted in hardiness zones 7 to 10.

Incorporating Red Spider Lilies in Your Landscape

Red Spider Lilies have no foliage when they sprout and bloom. A single green stem will suddenly sprout from the ground in early September and quickly grow to a height of about 18 inches in about a week's time. When the plant blooms, about six to eight individual bright red flowers open up to create a large, umbrella shaped bloom that is over seven inches in diameter.

close-up of a Red Spider Lily bloom

Due to the lack of foliage, Red Spider Lilies look best when planted in multiple clusters, in beds with groundcover such as Ivy or plants such as the Chinese Ground Orchid, to provide a green background. These tall flowers, which originally came from Japan and China, look great when planted in borders, flower beds or containers. Their height makes them a great addition to cut flower arrangements.

Red Surprise Lilies

Red Spider Lilies are also known as Red Surprise Lilies or Hurricane Lilies, because they suddenly and unexpectedly bloom late during hurricane season in September. While these beautiful flowers are perfect for adding a splash of bright, vivid color to the autumn landscape, care should be taken when cutting them for an indoor flower arrangement. Red Spider Lilies are poisonous if ingested, making them potentially hazardous for pets or young children.

How to Plant and Care for the Red Spider Lily