Magic lily (Lycoris squamigera) is a "pass-along" plant with a long history of cultivation in the United States. Originally a native of China, this sterile triploid produces no viable seeds. It saves all of its energy for the production of flowers and additional bulbs. This is one of the indicator species that help archaeologists identify old farmsteads. Depending on how spicy your grandmothers or great aunts were, you may know it by the common names of "surprise lilies" or "naked ladies"—the latter common name referring to the habit of the plant to flower in fall, well after the leaves have died down, bursting as a leafless flower stalk from the soil, apparently overnight.
Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife avoid munching on the leaves of this member of the amaryllis family, since they contain crystalline calcium oxylate molecules that cause delicate mouth and throat tissues to become inflamed and swell. All species in this genus are native to the edges of woodlands in Asia and come in white, yellow, pink, orange, and an almost iridescent turquoise-blue. Interplant magic lily with hostas and other perennials and groundcovers—plants that come up late but produce attractive foliage—to cover the base of the bare stems.
July - August, September - October
Bedding or Border, Specimen Plant, Groundcover, Understory
Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies, Resistant To Deer