Getting rain lilies to bloom

Sat, 20 Jul 2002 07:57:35 PDT
Hi Mary Sue,
I have copied the emails I posted on the other site to here. They are 
below, hope they make sense to all. I will write more soon. Feel welcome to make any comments about Rainlilies.
Bill Richardson
I've got a cross called H. texanus x, and also H. martenezii x robustus I've also got H. tubispathus , and syn andersonii, syn rosea, H. tubispathus mixed hybrids, H. brachyandrus, H gracifilius, H. X floryii USA , H. citrianus, H " russell manning".p lus a few others I can't think of at present. I've discussed these names on numerous occasions with Bruce Knight a grower in NSW who I got a lot of mine from and he could give me no indication as to whether any of the names were correct.
Obviously the genus is very mixed up with names and he was crossing quite a lot of them to see what he could get in the way of color, size. I have not continued collecting this genus, although I would like to as they are interesting. I'm sure you must be able to hybridise them quite easily.
yes, they are very sporadic flowerers for me too. I always look forward to a rainy day as often a rainlily will flower soon after, even if they were under cover out of the rain. The Z. that is most prolific for me here is minima which flowers like crazy and sets seed like its going out of fashion. Pity it's such a small flower.Although, I must admit, I like and grow a lot of small flowers.
I have grown this one in Gippsland for quite a few years. (Habranthus tubispathus) I got mine as bulbs from a grower in NSW and they flower each year, although not profusely. Here, the flowers last a while. I don't give mine any special treatment. Some I water all year, some get minimal water but this doesn't seem to produce any differences. They seem to multiply well and I look forward to new flowers each year.
Bill Richardson

From: Sun Jul 21 13:32:38 2002
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 07:57:35 -0700
To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
From: "Lisa and Al Flaum" <>
Subject: Re: Getting rainlilies to bloom

Hi all,

I grow a lot of different rainlilies (every one I've been able to scavenge!).
All are in pots but Zephyranthes candida. I had Z candida in the ground, in a sloping, south-facing rock garden for 3 years. It lived, but did not bloom. In disgust, I moved it to a regular garden bed (clay soil amended with horse manure), and got bloom with the first rain.
It has thrived in that area, and blooms in late summer.

Everything else is in clay rose pots, taller than wide. The potting soil is 1 part peat basedpotting soil, 1 part composted horse manure and 1 part granite chicken grower grit.

The pots are is sun all day and I water every 36-48 hours as long as there is growth. Several species occasionally take a summer rest for no reason I can see(Z labufarosa comes to mind). When this happens, I skip to watering every 3 days at most, until growth resumes. This is probably more water than the bulbs need, but I am really afraid of cooking them in the heat (Todays forecast is for 98F, which is about what its been for the last6 weeks).The pots are outdoors from about April 15 to late November. They are stored in a cool basement
completely dry, over the winter. Check my signature for climactic conditions.

I can tell you that rainlilies know the difference between a hose and a thunderstorm. I will get an occasional bloom from the hybrids (both Z. and Habranthus). Z. primulina is also a fairly consistant bloomer. However, one rainstorm and ALL the hybrids, plus Z primulina, Z clintae and Z lindleyana bloom at once. Z traubii also bloomed after a rain. Z 'Horsetail Falls', which I think is now Z. huestecana, has only bloomed once this year in may. Z. flavissima is a consistant repeat bloomer in the rock garden at MoBot. 

Mary Sue, I have read that many hybrids can be convinced to bloom by soaking the pot in water, so that the potting soil is saturated. I have never bothered to try, but could, perhaps, do a little experimenting. 

Lisa Flaum

From: Sun Jul 21 13:32:38 2002
To: <>
Subject: Re: Getting rainlilies to bloom
From: "J.E. Shields" <>
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 07:57:35 -0700
Hi all,

I grow several types of rain lilies, all in pots. Last year, a rainy summer, they stayed in the greenhouse all summer long and bloomed if I watered them when it rained outside. This year, they are not blooming. I guess I should move them outside and water more.

So far this summer, only Zephyranthes lindleyana has bloomed.

Outside, I set the pots in saucers. Natural rainfall is still the best stimulus to start bloom.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana

From: Mon Jul 22 13:32:38 2002
Subject: Re: Getting rain lilies to bloom
From: "Ixia" <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 13:03:24 +1000
To: <>

Jim , Mary Sue and all.
All of Habs and Zephs are in pots. I don't have room to put them in the
ground. Our summer here in Gippsland can be quite hot and our winters can produce frosts and a high rainfall. Although this year, I'm sure Mother Nature doesn't quite know what she is up to.

Rainlilies, Habranthus and Zephs don't need any fancy potting mixes. I grow a lot of mine in a good brand seed raising mix and/or potting mix, although I usually do my own mix using some sand. They will grow quite comfortably in this. I have been experimenting for years with different modes of growing - partly keeping some wet through out winter and also drying some off. I haven't seen any great advantage either way and they will flower in a semi-shaded position.

They have always been sporadic flowerers - I suggest being prompted by
natural rain and other atmospheric pressures and variables produced and
created by nature. They usually produce seed after flowering and these grow on quite well in seed raising mix, although the Flotation method is quite successful also to get seed to germinate.They flower more than once or twice during a season.

For a number of years, I corresponded with a mutual grower in NSW, Bruce Knight , who was at the time growing a great variety of species and had obtained quite a lot of mixed hybrids from America, as well as species,with some good results. 

When I first started collecting these and looking for information in
gardening books, I discovered a lot of variation in the descriptions and colors given, which was very confusing. Also there was a great variation in names being mixed up and confused with each other.
I discussed this with Bruce Knight in NSW by letter over a period of time and he stated that the problem was with the so-called experts writing gardening books who had never sighted these species and relied a lot on second-hand information for their own books. I promptly put these books away and referred to groups like IBS and information and descriptions available in some of their published works.

I have not done any work with hybridisation or cross pollination but I am certain from what I have gleaned through the years that they are quite conducive to this process. I have one H. tubispathis which is labelled as large flower which is definitely larger than the normal flower you see. This is either a sport; or a cross with another?
This is a genus which needs a lot of sorting out.
Habranthus is definitely an interesting species one although I have stated a nice little collection of Zephs lately , which I enjoy growing as well.

Bill Richardson 

From: Mon Jul 22 13:32:38 2002
Subject: Re: Getting rain lilies to bloom
From: "Lauw de Jager" <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 18:09:12 +0200
To: <>

Mary Sue Ittner <> a *crit :
 Please share with us your experiences.

Dear All,
My experiences are very similar to those of Daryl. Habranthus robustus
are planted in pots, kept growing until early July, followed by
complete drought until one week before we need flowering.
Zephyranthes candida are in full ground and completely submitted to
our very dry and hot summer. 2 weeks after a heavy rainstorm the end of
August(or thorough irrigation) flowering is massif with several layers
of flowers. Before we watered throughout the summer and we got lots of
leaves with lots of bulbs bnut por flowering.
Lauw de Jager 
BULB'ARGENCE, 30300 Fourques, France

From: Mon Jul 22 16:53:55 2002
Subject: getting rain lilies to flower
From: "Lyn Edwards" <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 16:53:55 +1000
To: <>

Hello all,
thank you Mary Sue for resusitating topics; ,this has been greatly
missed. It is a bit hard to get the mind working on rainlilies in the middle of the southern hemisphere winter but I am trying.I don,t grow all that many any more as some do not do well for me. Z.citrina and H.tubispathus both flower intermittently in summer and are
welcome when they do, and some others flower just occassionally,e.g.
Z.primulina, the ones that flower their head off at just the suggestion of rain here are H.martinezii and the pink form of H.robustus,both really earn their place in my garden, why these do so well when others don,t is puzzling,
Lyn Edwards

From: Tues Jul 23 13:32:38 2002
Subject: getting rain lilies to flower
From: "Floral Artistry" <>
Date: Tues, 23 Jul 2002 16:53:55 +1000
To: <>

I have the following rain lilies and also experiences:
Most of my rain lilies are either in the ground in a growing area here in West Hollywood (WH), CA that I don't get a lot of time to look at when I am there watering or in pots in another growing area in Venice, CA at the beach that is much cooler. Both locations are full sun. The WH growing area is good loamy soil and the ones in pots are in a basic commercial potting soil. Both areas are watered about twice a week and usually dry between waterings. All have been acquired last year so this is a new enterprise for me.

tubispathus var tubispathus - source? It was commercial I believe but I
can't find my notes. It has done well, flowering on and off in a pot for the summer
tubispathus var texensis - from Plant Delights - it is on the ground in my growing area and has disappeared (by this I mean the label is gone and until it flowers, I have no idea where it is as I don't keep records of location 
gracifolius - seeds from BX in March 01 - small bulbs but growing nicely
tubispathus - same as gracifolius

smallii - from Plant Delights - is in the ground in my WH growing area and has increased slightly flowering is minimal if at all.
'Big Shot' - from Odyssey Bulbs - in WH and has increased minimally but has produced a few flowers over last year but none this year have been noticed.
'Grandjax' - from Plant Delights - one or two flowers a year in WH but
increase has not been incredible
'Prairie Sunset' - from Odyssey Bulbs - in a pot in Venice - many small
offset but no flowers this year so far
atamasco -from Plant Delights - label has been lost thus until it flowers
again I don't know if I have lost it or not
drummondii 'San Carlos' - from Yucca Do - increased nicely with a few
flowers. It is in the WH growing area in the ground
rosea - from Yucca Do - in the ground in WH and the label has been lost
katherinae - from Odyssey Bulbs - in WH in the ground. I can't remember any flowers on it but it has produced a few offsets
lindleyana 'Horsetail Falls' - from Odyssey Bulbs - in a pot in Venice. It has flowered really well last year and many seeds have been produced and subsequent bulbs produced but have not flowered.
jonesii - from Plant Delights - in WH - label has been lost
reginae - in WH - from Plant Delights - plants were lost. Label removed.
'Thad' seed from BX in march 01, small bulbs but growing nicely
Labuffarosea - from Brent and Becky's and also from a local wholesaler -
those from BB have done well and even flowered some last year. Those from a local supply were in 5 very full 1 gal. pots. The pots were divided and bulbs planted in 4 (qt) pots. They are nearly about 4 flats of pots from these 5 - 1 gals. They were dormant some time but in the last few weeks they have begun to sprout. I did not have them watered while I was on vacation for a week (June 28th to July 5th). Upon returning from vacation, the pots were completely dry. I had watered extensively but they remained dry. I realized that the soil had pulled away from the pot and water was not penetrating. I pushed the soil back around the pot as I was watering. Then watered several times that day. After about 5 days, several of them were in flower. So, I would make the assumption that a dry period followed but good watering, even non-rain water, can induce flowering (at least in this species)
macrosiphon - source forgotten - have grown but not flowered a lot, they are in Venice
traubii - source unknown - label has been lost
carinata - from Japan - just received this last week - but it is in
flowering right now. Photo will be posted to the images list soon
valles - also just received from Japan and still dormant
'Hakucho' - from Japan
'Ajax' - source unknown - flowered slightly last year grow this year is
average in the ground
grandiflora - love this one. It is in the ground here in WH and the flowers are a sight to behold. I have only had one flower this year that I know of but I am hoping for more. It will have to be moved soon so I can find out how much it has reproduced when it move it

Overall, I have to say that they are not the most florific items in my
garden but I also have not taken the time to try to get them to grow, they are there and fend for themselves. I really have not seen too many flowers since last year but some have grown quite nicely. I want to get a larger collection but wonder if it would be worth it as I really don't have the summer rains to get many of them to flower nicely.

John Ingram

From: Mon Jul 29 13:32:38 2002
Subject: Re: Getting rainlilies to bloom
From: "Mary Sue Ittner <>" <>>
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 07:12:24 -0500
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Dear All,

Thanks for all the responses about rainlilies. We didn't hear from Dirk, but I know he has been very busy and like Lyn finds it hard to think about rainlilies in the middle of winter when crocuses are much more interesting. But if he has time in the future I am sure his comments will be valuable.

It sounds like these are erratic bloomers for many of us. And it sounds like true to their common name, rain does stimulate bloom and watering isn't quite as successful. So that those of us living in Mediterranean climates are at a disadvantage since our rains are when it is cold, not hot. And those with warmer summers have an advantage as well. Probably if we had more people in this group from the southern United States with hot humid summers and rain storms it would be different. I can testify that Lauw's Zephyranthes candida are magnificent since I saw them. It was hard to believe that was the same thing that blooms on rare occasions in my garden and then only briefly. We decided that his climate was hotter, that he had occasional rain in summer when we have none, and the rainy season starts earlier in France than in California while it is still warm.

It was interesting to note that Bill R. and Claire (posted on another list) haven't found any difference from a dry winter or a wet winter since that has been true for me as well. They don't bloom either way. People in cold winter climates can just store them in a warmer spot and bring them out when the temperatures are milder.

Looking over some of my saved IBS forum notes there was the suggestion that they would not bloom as well in pots as in the ground so it was interesting that some of you who have to grow them that way are still having success. A man from Pakistan suggested you could not get the pots wet enough. He recommended temperatures over 85 F. (29 C.) and monsoon conditions with the plants under water for the very best displays. In fact he told of plants blooming for 3 weeks after they had been submerged. Someone else I didn't save the name of suggested the pots needed to be in saucers of water. Just watering them would not get them wet enough if growing in a pot without a saucer in the sun but if there was a prolonged rainy period they would bloom in a container.

I wonder John if you can provide the conditions they need in Southern California to get them to bloom in dramatic fashion. I am amazed at the large number you are trying. You'll have to report again when you have grown them for a longer time which ones turned out well. No one else from Southern California reported so that may be meaningful. I had better luck with them in Stockton where our summers were warmer so Joyce probably has a better chance in Sacramento. I think she gave seed to the IBS BX last year of something we both started at the same time which has never bloomed for me.

I think I am going to put my remaining species that have never flowered in my greenhouse and keep them dry for the next three or four weeks and then overwhelm them with water (since we won't have rain.) If they still don't bloom, that may be the end of them as I make room for other things that I can grow better. Shall I just send them all to you Lisa as you were the one who said you were wanting more?

Mary Sue
From: Tue Jul 30 13:32:38 2002
Subject: Re: Getting rainlilies to bloom
From: "Lisa and Al Flaum" <>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 07:12:24 -0500
To: <>

Dear Mary Sue,

Sure, Mary Sue, offer me more bulbs! Anybody else hear the discussion on Public Radio about greed? Who wants a new car or a 401K when there are bulbs and books to be had? 

I'm going to try the soaking technique, starting when I get home this evening. The plan is to leave the pots (I am going to use the named hybrids) in water overnight, lift in the am, and see what the next week brings. 

Its nice to think that all this heat may be good for something.

Lisa Flaum

From: Fri Aug 2 13:32:38 2002
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
From: Diane Whitehead <>
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 13:34:22 -0400
Subject: Getting rainlilies to bloom 

OK. Kevin's letter from Florida did it. I went out in the dark and brought in 9 pots of Zephyranthes. It sounds as though they need warm air as well as warm water, and therefore are completely unsuited to Pacific Coast cool dry nights. Well, cool dry days, too, compared to Florida. Having them inside the house won't add much warmth, though, as my electric heat came on this morning (the thermostat is set below 55 F). Yes, I am in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is our summer. Maybe I'll soak them in warm water and then put them on top of the water heater.

No sense going to all this effort if they are still too young to bloom, though. The ones sown in 2000 are grasslike, but the ones from 1998 have robust leaves about a half cm broad. Are these likely to be suitable?

Diane Whitehead Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
maritime zone 8
cool mediterranean climate (dry summer, rainy winter)

From:  Sun Jul 21 13:32:38 2002
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 07:57:35 -0700
To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
From: Paul Tyerman <>
Subject: Re: Getting rainlilies to bloom

OK.... Now I'm depressed :(. Your H. tubispathus was bad enough, but
this Zephyranthes as well. I am positive that I have sown both of
these up to three years ago now. Not a flower from any of the dozen
or so Zeph and Habranthus pots I have sown. Now I have to wonder what
I am doing wrong &lt;sigh!&gt;. 


Paul Tyerman

From: Fri Aug 2 13:32:38 2002
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 13:34:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Getting rainlilies to bloom
From: "Mary Sue Ittner <>" <>>

Dear Kevin,

Welcome to our group and thanks for the additional rain lily information. I had forgotten it needed to be warm water although I had been told that in the past. So in three or four weeks warm water it will be for my experiment. Did you use warm water Lisa? Any spikes yet?

Mary Sue

From: Wed Aug 17 13:32:38 2002
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
From: "J.E. Shields" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2002 13:34:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Getting rainlilies to bloom 
Hi all,

We are in the same situation as Lisa. Our well water is about 55 F, and when we get rain, it is almost always from thunderstorms so the rain is also cold. Afterward, the hot humid weather returns.

I moved my pots of rain lilies out of the greenhouse (temps to 120 F in afternoon sun) a week or two ago. I have been setting them in saucers and watering occasionally. There are flower buds on Z. reginae and on Z. longifolia, so far.

I think the saucers are critical to getting bloom here. I have been told by field collectors that the rain lilies in Texas often bloom while standing water covers the ground over the bulbs. I've never seen them in situ myself.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana

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