Kevin D. Preuss hyline@tampabay.rr.com
Mon, 19 Apr 2004 07:31:04 PDT
Hymenocallis--TOW Part 2

Cultivation of Spider Lilies -

True spider lilies belong to the genus Hymenocallis.  These can be 
artificially divided into 3 categories (Tropical, Mexican, and southeastern 
United States) for cultivation purposes.

Tropical species are those from the West Indies/Caribbean and also parts of 
eastern Mexico to Panama and northern South America.  These are typically 
the larger species that offset prolifically, such as  H. latifloia, H. 
carribbeae, H. expansa, H. tubiflora, H. speciosa, etc...These typically 
prefer large pots (5 gallons or larger) or to be grown in the open ground
(if in tropical /subtropical location).  No dormancy period is required for 

The plants from the SE US are mostly wetland plants (with the exception of 
H. occidentalis). Several species are riverine plants (H. rotata, H. 
franklinensis, H. coronaria...). Others are found in swamps, sloughs, bogs 
and ditches like H. crassifolia,  & H. liriosme.  To cultivate these 
successfully over time, they must be grown in large tubs flooded routinely, 
or grown in a pond or stream bank.  I grow many of mine in my son's old 
swimming pool and flood it/drain it almost daily.

Others are associated with the seasonally flooded prairies (H. godfreyi 
&  H. puntagordensis). Others are linked to the hydricity of pine 
flatwoods  (H. henryae & H. palmeri).  These both prefer wet soils that dry 
out periodically. With the exception of H. puntagordensis and an 
undescribed species from central Florida, the other 14 SE US species go 
dormant in the
winter and break dormancy before spring.

The Mexican species are less often cultivated.  Those in southern 
California and Texas would do better with these species.  H. maxamilianii 
is commonly grown, as is H. acutifolia.  There is rich diversity amongst 
the Mexican species (from petiolate leaves as in H. glauca, H. harrisiana, 
H. eucharidifolia to lorate, or strap shaped leaves).  These are deciduous
for a longer period than the other groups.  Most Mexican species are just 
beginning growth in April through early May here in Florida.

Perhaps some California and Australian growers could chime in here and let
us all know what kind of cycles your plants are on.

In order to breed spider lilies, the filament, which holds the anther 
above, can be removed and used to pollinate other flowers when they are 
blooming simultaneously. Alternately the anthers may be removed and 
(pollen) can be stored in a plastic vial in the refrigerator and may be
used to pollinate other spider lilies (of the same species or different ones).

Kevin Preuss

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