Getting Rain Lilies to bloom

Mary Sue Ittner
Fri, 28 Feb 2003 22:08:43 PST
Dear All,

Now that Australia is getting rain and the rain lilies are blooming I have 
to share mine from another hemisphere. Those of you who were with us in the 
beginning may remember our rain lily discussion from this summer. We 
concluded that to get them to bloom you need summer warmth, warm wind, and 
rain (with barometric pressure changes.) Having periods of dry followed by 
rain works. Lisa Flaum did some experiments on her rain lilies since it had 
been a dry summer for her,  saturating them over night and many of the ones 
she grows bloomed as a result.

Diane Whitehead and I tried the same (mine were put in the greenhouse for 
weeks first to provide the warmth) and were less successful.

Jane McGary suggested the ones to try in our cooler summers were: 
Habranthus tubispathus, H. robustus, and Zephyranthes candida. I have 
gotten all three to bloom, but the first one has bloomed for a few days at 
most once a year. Last year when we were gone and my neighbor neglected to 
water a lemon tree in a container causing it to lose almost all its leaves 
I had a really nice display of Zephyranthes candida in that container. It 
had been overwhelmed by some perennials that had seeded themselves in the 
container (Erigeron) and I didn't even remember it was there. When I pulled 
out all the Erigeron I saw the buds on the Zephyranthes. I'm not sure I'd 
be willing to do that every year to get it to bloom although the lemon tree 
has recovered. H. robustus has been known to bloom twice in a year for me 
and it was the only thing that responded to my rain lily soaking experiment 
by blooming.

When I complained on the IBS list about rainlilies a woman in the southern 
United States sent me some that she promised I could grow and get to bloom. 
They were in growth when she sent them and promptly went dormant, but last 
year they bloomed. We had a couple weeks recently without rain and then a 
good soaking one day. Before the day was over I had a bud on my plants 
which has since opened and bloomed. This is a rather large flower as my 
container is 8 inches (20+ cm.) and it stays in bloom for awhile. So there 
is at least one species and a rather spectacular one that I can grow in my 
Mediterranean climate with pleasant (not hot) summer temperatures, 
Zephyranthes atamasca.…

Mary Sue

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