Zephyranthes are commonly called rain lilies since they often come into bloom after it rains. From the Amaryllidaceae family, they are native to the southeastern United States, Central America, and South America. Most are spring or summer flowering. Zephyranthes flowers are very similar to Habranthus flowers and both are called rain lilies. Habranthus flowers point upward BUT at an angle and have unequal stamens, and Zephyranthes flowers point straight up and have equal stamens. Zephyranthes flowers tends to be star shaped and Habranthus have somewhat irregular flowers. Additionally, the seeds of Habranthus are slightly winged (and thicker).
Cultivation from seed is easy in this group. Seeds are papery and can be floated but they sprout very easily sown under just a thin covering of sowing medium. Sow the seeds in a well-drained mix and keep in a warm place. The seedlings will grow well in warm weather and respond well to fertilizer. As with any papery seeded amaryllids, these have a relatively short viability period.
Zephyranthes Hybrids is our wiki page with pictures of hybrids.
Zephyranthes atamasco is a spring flowering species of the southern United States (Virginia to Florida and west to Alabama) usually found in swamps and damp clearings. Broad grassy foliage appears in winter and plants go dormant in summer. The white flowers are very large. The first two photos, taken by Bob Rutemoeller, are of a March flowering in Northern California. The second photo was taken more than two weeks after the first. The original flower from the first picture is in the background and has red markings. The third photo, taken by Mary Sue Ittner, shows an unusually early bloom in January 2005. Mary Sue was able to grow this species for quite a number of year in her garden in a container, watered occasionally in summer, but otherwise exposed to the elements.
Photographs of Zephyranthes atamasco at a famous location near Chattahoochee, Florida taken in January 2007 by Alani Davis.
Zephyranthes candida This species may be grown more than any other. It is native to Argentina and Uruguay and is found along rivers and in marshes where it gets year round rainfall except for a brief period in late summer. It blooms in fall. The first photo, taken by Lauw de Jager, is of a massed blooming in France after a good fall rain and a dry summer. The second photo, taken by Bob Rutemoeller, is of plants growing in a tub along with a Meyer lemon, where they bloom really well in early fall. The third, fourth, & fifth in the Florida panhandle taken by Alani Davis.
Zephyranthes citrina is native to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. It has small, deep yellow flowers. It does not offset much, but a large colony of them can be built up quickly because of the abundant apomictic seed production. Photos taken September 2007 by Jay Yourch.
Zephyranthes fosteri is from Mexico, where it is known as "little May flower". Photograph by Ina Crossley.
Zephyranthes grandiflora is native to Central America. Photos taken June 2004 by Jay Yourch.
Zephyranthes lindleyana is native to eastern Sierra Madre of Mexico. Photos taken April 2007 by Alani Davis.
Zephyranthes macrosiphon is native to eastern Mexico. It resembles Z. grandiflora, but has smaller flowers with shorter styles. Photos taken August 2004 by Jay Yourch.
Zephyranthes mesochloa is native to South America and has white or pink flowers. Here you can see two different populations of Z. mesochloa photographed by Germán Roitman.
Zephyranthes minima is white flushed pink on exterior of segments and native to Argentina, Bolivia (at altitudes of up to 2600m), Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. Photo by Alessandro Marinello.
Zephyranthes nelsonii is a rare species that I have never seen in cultivation. The scapes are quite tall (about 12 inches high) and the flowers are quite large, as well (4-5 inches in length). It is found in rocky, xeric escarpments and consequently I would imagine that it requires very good drainage. It is sympatric with Sprekelia drummondii and Tigridia sp. as they share the same habitat. (Sprekelia plants were blooming simultaneously a few feet away when these pictures were taken.) The plants were located in their natural habitat at roughly 2000m in Zumpahuacan, Mexico (1 hr. south of Mexico City). I took pictures of two color variants. One is a light pink color with red stripes on the petals; this is the predominant color form. However, there was also a semi-alba variety that was growing in the same patch as these others, and is likely a mutation of some sort. I am not sure of the frequency with which this color variation shows up....it could actually be quite common. Some extra field work should answer that question. Photo taken April, 2005 by Dennis Szeszko.
Zephyranthes primulina Another really pretty Zephyranthes. The outside, before the flower opens, is a yellow fading into a pink-peach color. Photo taken August 2003 by Lee Poulsen & 2005-2006 by Alani Davis.
Zephyranthes reginae is native to Mexico. It has moderate sized light yellow flowers. Like Z. citrina, it does not offset much, but a large colony of them can be built up quickly because of the abundant, possibly apomictic, seed production. Photos taken by Jay Yourch & Alani Davis.
Zephyranthes sp. Photos by Hans Joschko of plants obtained from a friend that originally were collected in the northern provinces of Argentina, in the border region between Salta and Tucuman at 1100 meters. Germán Roitman thinks it is Z. mesochloa, but Alberto Castillo thinks it may be a new species because Z. mesochloa is a lowland plant.
Zephyranthes sp. Itajaí Photo taken December 2006 in southern Brazil by Tarcísio Eduardo Raduenz.
Zephyranthes sylvatica is pictured on the Habranthus wiki page.
Zephyranthes traubii is a species named for Hamilton Traub who spent much of his career on the taxonomy of North American bulbs. It is native to southeastern Texas and northeastern Mexico. Photo contributed by the UC Botanical Garden.
Zephyranthes treatiae was a separate species but is now also called Zephyranthes atamasca var. treatiae (S.Watson) Meerow. These are wild examples in Jefferson County, Florida. Photos by Alani Davis.
Zephyranthes verecunda is a species that is rarely seen in cultivation. The flowers in the picture emerged after the first rains in Mexico during the last week of April, 2005. The small but intensely colored flowers are held on a very short scape and resemble Crocus sp. in their shape and size. The flowers open in direct sunshine and are a dark magenta color. The plants were located in their natural habitat at roughly 2000m in Zumpahuacan, Mexico (1 hr. south of Mexico City) in direct sunshine in a grassland growing in sandy soil over buried rocks. Photo by Dennis Szeszko.