Joe Shaw jshaw@opuntiads.com
Sat, 26 Aug 2006 12:39:01 PDT
Hi Gang,


There are so many types of rainlilies, 3 or more genera and zillions of 
species and hybrids.  Some don't really seem like the classic rainlily: a 
heavy rain can't tease them into blooming.  But, they mostly all have the 
look and the feel of rainlilies, sort of like miniature Hippeastrum (or 

Many rainlilies don't have great substance, the flowers can fade in a day. 
But, many of the most ephemeral have exquisite Chinese-porcelain-like 
colors, or most memorable pastels.  Even if they seem to fade in a day, some 
types will put up flowers for a week when they decide to bloom.


I try to grow rainlilies in 2-gallon nursery containers.  In truth, if I 
measured the volume I think it would be closer to a gallon or 1.5 gallons 
max.  I put in fast-draining soil that has some humus and some very coarse 
sand.  Sometimes, I have mixed Styrofoam peanuts or put the peanuts at the 
bottom of the container; the rainlilies don't seem to care.  Styrofoam is a 
wonder additive for some potting soils because it seems to created air 
pockets that many plants like.  However, mixed-in or in the bottom 2 inches 
of the pot, Styrofoam is a nuisance when  repotting.  Windy days are not for 
repotting anything with Styrofoam.

Even thought I like 2-gallon containers, I really like 3- or 4-gallon 
containers because they are deeper.  Rainlily roots like to find depth even 
if they don't always occupy deeper regions.  I guess (not sure ) that excess 
water drains into the deeper regions or (almost the reverse) the deeper 
regions hold a bit of extra moisture in dry times.

I keep rainlilies in pots because such culture provides a bit of protection 
from weeds.  Living in a mild-winter climate, with year round rains, weeds 
can acquire the features of an ill-meaning, super-powered, space 
creature-eating woodpiles, brick piles, and perhaps slow moving people.

Pot culture does not eliminate weeds, but semi-regular attention combined 
with 2 inches of wood chip mulch (or similar), does a lot to limit weeds in 
pots.  I think the same treatment would work in flowerbeds, but I'm far too 
lazy to constantly weed flowerbeds.


I have named rainlilies, and seedlings grown from named rainlilies (open 
pollinated), and I have unknown rainlilies.  They are all delightful and all 
that I have tried have been hardy here in zone 9a/9b.  They like a bit of 
fertilizer in spring (whenever leaves start showing), and they like water 
now and then if there is a drought.  However, they also seem to thrive on 
regular irrigation (such as next to a well watered lawn) as long as they 
have soil that drains adequately.  I have yet to try/find/hear-about a 
rainlily that enjoys wet feet.


I often put rainlilies into large containers of other plants such as 
15-30-gallon pots of Yucca, Agave, and some other xeric plants.   The 
rainlilies may not increase as fast as they might in soils with more organic 
matter, but they do find and bloom beautifully when they feel like it.

Some of the more precocious rainlilies have even reseeded in large pots, 
dealing with spare soil and a big Yucca plant (e.g., C. citrina and C. 

LINKS:  Fadjar's Rainlilies (one of many links to Farjar)


LINK: Rain Lilies (2 words) in Texas


LINK:  Notes on Hardy Rainlilies (PBS archives)


LINK:  Zephyranthes citrina, naturalized in Hawaii




A bit of rain this week has brought out some pretty rainlilies-names 

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