Planting depth for Lycoris

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Fri, 16 Oct 2020 08:47:44 PDT
We had a hot summer in Phoenix; daytime maximum temperatures were not higher than typical, but we had almost 6 weeks of nights above 85 F. There were more days above 110 F than before, but none approached our all-time record of 122 F. Most advanced gardeners here lost many plants, including succulents. I had okra in large well-watered containers die of heat.

My Lycoris radiata are in two raised concrete block planters along my house, facing north by northwest. The planters and walls receive direct sun in mid to late afternoon during the summer, the hottest time of day. In winter these planters are in full shade. The L. radiata clumps are about 6"-12" back from the sunny wall. They have been there for more than 30 years. I have two dozen clumps, progeny of two dozen bulbs. I have not divided them. The bulb noses are just beneath the surface.

The drip irrigation system failed this spring, and I watered manually. There is a guava at the west end of one planter as an indicator plant. It did wilt a few times. Also in that planter are a tiny, struggling Philodendron selloum that I really should move because it can't take the sun; Crinum powellii album and another C. I can't recall, which burn in the sun but recover; several Encephalartos seedlings that do fine, and a few other things I planted recently that are struggling. The other planter has some bearded Iris, Jasminum sambac and Trachelospermum asiaticum.

The L. radiata have always been irregular in flowering. Sometimes I get no flowers at all for several years. Other years I get a few clumps flowering. All clumps leaf and grow luxuriantly. I don't get enough frost to harm the leaves.

This year they gave the best flowering ever, starting about September 3. Every clump flowered. I don't know whether that reflects this year's care or last year's. They are making leaves now.

I planted 3 Lycoris aurea in one bed in fall 2018. They are well back from the hot wall. One made leaves that first season, the same one the second season. I haven't seen any this year. I have seen one planting of this in flower only a few miles from my house, so I know it can grow here.

I might add Jasminum sambac and Trachelospermum asiaticum don't mind any amount of sun and heat once established, so long as they are watered.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA
Zone 9?

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