Getting Rain Lilies to Bloom

Leo A. Martin
Sat, 23 Nov 2013 14:22:02 PST
I have a little experience with several summer-growing clones of various unnamed rain
lilies. Our summer is very hot by most people's standards, and rain occurs, but is not

Habranthus tubispathus blooms, even in smallish containers, in late summer, when we have
the first few cooling nights. I have not tried this in the ground. Every flower sets
seed. It is more or less evergreen here, but I keep it in the shade. Plus, the
containers I use are tall and narrow, so they don't dry out as fast as would short,
squat containers.

A large pink-flowered plant with maroon undersides to the straplike leaves grows and
multiplies just fine in the ground in full sun if it gets some water. It blooms with
each summer rain, but not necessarily with each watering. In a container, even 1 gallon
or larger, it often goes dormant for the entire summer. Its leaves emerge when the first
cool nights occur and it blooms sporadically some time after. Its tunics are dark brown,
whether wet or dry. It has never set seed, even after hand-pollination with another rain

Two narrow-leaved rain lilies bought years (decades?) ago remain unidentified since
avian or canine garden assistants removed many unsightly labels. Both have white
flowers. Both have tan tunics. Both are dormant all summer in 1-gallon or slightly
larger containers, emerging in the fall. I have not tried these in the ground. Neither
has set seed, but then I have not tried hand pollination.

One has near-cylindric, grassy, bright green leaves of small diameter that stand
upright, like tall grass. I suspect it is Z. candida. It is in full fresh foliage with
buds, and had we not had 2 solid days' worth of rain they might have opened today. I
will try and take a picture if it opens tomorrow.

The other has wider, grayish-green, straplike leaves that relax over the container edge.
I suspect it may be Z. drummondii. This one is emerging but is not as far along as the

It may be I am just not able to keep them wet enough in these containers, and they would
perform better in the ground, as does the large-flowered pink one.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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