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How to Grow Magic Lilies

Magic lilies (Lycoris squamigera) growing deep in the woods along creeks in Indianapolis.

Magic lilies (Lycoris squamigera) growing deep in the woods along creeks in Indianapolis.

Summer-Blooming Bulbs

In midsummer, magic lilies pop up within the span of a few days, producing six to eight delicate flowers on long, thin, leafless stems.

Beautiful summer bloomers, these flowers are also called naked lilies, naked ladies, resurrection lilies, spider lilies, and surprise lilies. They're ideal bulbs for borders, beds, and fairy gardens.

In order for magic lilies to live and bloom year after year, they must experience a period of cold followed by a period of warmth. For this reason, they are planted in the fall at the same time as spring-blooming bulbs, such as daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips.

Like spring bulbs, magic lily bulbs remain dormant throughout winter. In spring, however, when daffodils and other spring flowers sprout and bloom, magic lily bulbs produce leaves only, which disappear by the start of summer.

In midsummer, like magic, the lilies pop up again, this time producing between six and eight flowers on thin, leafless stems that grow up three feet tall. Although magic lily stems and blooms appear within a few days, the flowering continues for two to three weeks. The blossoms are large, showy, and delicate, closely resembling the amaryllis flowers to which they are related.

One magic lily bulb planted in fall produces at least two magic lily plants by the following year. That's because the bulbs spread by producing offset bulbs annually.

Magic lily bulbs are about the same size as daffodil bulbs. Pictured: L. squamigera, the hardiest species of magic lily.

Magic lily bulbs are about the same size as daffodil bulbs. Pictured: L. squamigera, the hardiest species of magic lily.

The Hardiest Magic Lily Species: Lycoris squamigera

Lycoris squamigera is the hardiest species of magic lily to date, performing well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10.

A no-fuss, easy-to-grow summer bloomer, L. squamigera does well in just about any type of soil. For the showiest blossoms, the bulbs should be planted in a full-sun to partial-shade location.

L. squamigera bulbs are about the same size as daffodil bulbs and require the same planting depth, anywhere from four to six inches. The planting hole should be measured from the bottom of the bulb to the soil surface.

In colder climates, it's best to plant L. squamigera at six inches deep. The same is true for sandy soils.

Although hardy, magic lilies are not impervious to extreme temperatures. If the summer or winter is radically hot or cold, they will produce fewer and smaller flowers.

Lycoris squamigera Information

Planting Depth

4–6 inches


6–8 inches

Planting Time



Full sun to partial shade

Hardiness Zone

Zones 5–8 with mulch; 9–10 without


Needs warm (60–70˚F) to cool (32–40˚F) to warm (60-70F) annual thermoperiodic cycle


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I've had a large bed of magic lilies for years. We have had an extraordinary amount of rain. The foliage is completely dead and the tops of the bulbs are exposed. Should I do anything?

Answer: You may need to relocate the bulbs; otherwise, they could rot.

© 2012 Jill Spencer


Jill Spencer (author) from United States on January 10, 2013:

Oh, Patricia, I hope they come up for you--loads of them! We're having so many freezes and thaws here that our bulbs are confused and have started to sprout, but ... the dog and I have been covering them with compost. Hope all our efforts pay off when the weather's warm! Take care, Jill

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 10, 2013:

These magic lilies are awesome. Our yard used to be filled with them..each spring, just like 'magic' as you say. They are so happy and perky they just make me smile when I see them. This will be my first spring in this home so I am anxious to see how many come visit. I will be checking out the bulbs you have provided for us as well.

Happy tenth day of the new year. Sending Angels your way :) ps

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on January 02, 2013:

@ aviannovice-- You're welcome! Magic lilies are delightful flowers, low maintenance and hardy. Since they'll grow in a wide range of zones, I bet they'd do well in yours. Hope you get a chance to grow them! --Jill

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 01, 2013:

These are surely beautiful lilies. Thanks so much for introducing me to them.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on January 01, 2013:

Hi Maren! These are fun to grow--and much hardier than they look. Nice to hear from you! Happy New Year. --Jill

Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on January 01, 2013:

Thanks for the info, Jill. I love perrenials and am always in favor of ones with a long blooming period.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on December 31, 2012:

Hi Deb. Magic lilies really are lovely. If you can grow them, you ought to. They're like a miracle! --Take care, Jill

GoldenThreadPress on December 31, 2012:

This sounds like a lovely flower. Will have to check it out for my zone. Voted Up and great Hub!--Deb

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on December 31, 2012:

Hi moonlake. It's so easy to forget to take a little bit of everything from your garden when you move. These are fun to grow. I think you can get the light pink L. squamigera from White Flower Farm online, but with surprise lilies you don't get too many bulbs for your $. Happy New Year! --Jill

moonlake from America on December 30, 2012:

I had these lilies; I got them from my grandma. She called them surprise lilies somewhere along with all our moving I lost the lilies. I miss having them and should buy some more. Voted up and shared.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on December 30, 2012:

Glad you like the hub, bandrocker! Thanks for your comment. (:

brandrocker on December 30, 2012:

Beautiful page just like the flowers! Detailed instructions are easy to follow! Hope to find more like this one!

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on December 30, 2012:

Hi Peggy W. Magic lilies really are wonderful plants. Beautiful, odd, unexpected. And not difficult to grow. I got my bulbs from my mother, who got them from hers. Thanks for the votes & for sharing this hub. Hope you have a great New Year. --Jill

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2012:

What a great sounding flower to have in one's landscape especially since it seems to be so hardy and returns year after year. Thanks for the information about Magic lilies. Up, useful, beautiful and interesting votes and will share.