Plant of the Week- Surprise Lilies

So I'm starting a new feature called Plant of the Week. I think it's a good way to learn more about a particular type of plant. I'm hoping to get some feedback on what type of plant you'd like to see featured. This week, we're going to start with a plant that I didn't even remember purchasing, but bloomed last year. They have some really interesting habits.

Surprise lilies are members of the amaryllis family. They have many names, including naked lady. They're unique in that the leaves come up in late winter or early spring. The foliage looks a lot like daffodils. In fact, for a couple of years, I thought that's what they were. I was very frustrated because they never bloomed. After the leaves have done their work, they die back.

Surprise lily leaves in my flower bed (taken today April 17, 2011).

In August or September, the flower blooms. It blooms on a single stalk, and unlike lilies, there is no accompanying foliage. They're really pretty, and last for quite a while. They also make a nice cut flower.

This is a picure of a bunch of surprise lilies. See how there's no foliage surrounding the stalk? Many people soften the edges with annuals or ground cover. I personally like the way they look.

To plant a surprise lily, plant the bulb 1-7 inches deep. The colder the climate, the deeper the bulb needs to be planted. They can be planted in fall. If you have a patch that needs to be moved, you can move them in the spring after the foliage withers, or in the fall. Once moved, the lilies may not bloom for 1-2 years. Surprise lilies need to be divided every 3-5 years.

Hope you enjoyed learning about the surprise lily, and please let me know if you have a plant you'd like to do a guest blog on or you would like to learn more about!


  1. I love me some amaryllis, but watch out for red blotch! I would go so far as to say, never buy Red Lion amaryllis or any amaryllis from the big box stores. They pretty much all have red blotch.

  2. We moved into a new home over the summer and to my surprise I went out to see these pale pinkish lilies, but no leaves on the stalks. Thank you for sharing this information.


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