Lycoris bulbs

lycoris bulbs
left to right: Lycoris x rosea ‘Neon Nights’, Lycoris ‘Flaming Dragon’, Lycoris chinensis, Lycoris chinensis (immature bulb)

Lycoris flowers have featured in several recent posts on this blog (see here, here, and here), so I thought it would be worthwhile to show you some bulbs and talk about how they should be handled and where you can obtain them.

Lycoris are best planted during their dormant period, summer to early autumn.  The winter-foliage types will start growing leaves soon, so we are almost at the end of the planting season.  As seen above, mature bulbs come in a variety of sizes, but they all have long necks.  When planting, the tip of the neck should be right at the soil surface, although if I am worried that a bulb is too shallow to withstand the winter,  I’ll often cover it with some loose mulch.  Choose a spot where they won’t need to be disturbed for many years.

If dried off and sold without roots like Narcissus, Lycoris bulbs will often take several years to re-establish and start flowering.  You’ll get more immediate gratification with bulbs that retain fresh roots like those shown above, but even then, they may take a year to settle in before you see flowers.  These are not bulbs that you can force for instant flowers, but they will greatly reward a patient gardener.

Finding Lycoris can be tricky.  I have occasionally seen L. aurea and L. radiata packaged with the other bulbs in big box stores, but I would avoid L. aurea unless you live somewhere with mild winters like coastal South Carolina and Georgia, or the gulf coast of Texas.   L. radiata will be fine in zones 6 and 7 and is a great choice for the NC piedmont.

Unless you are lucky enough to live near a nursery that propagates Lycoris, you’ll almost certainly need to search for bulbs online.  You may see advertisements for blue, purple, or rainbow Lycoris illustrated with pictures of L. radiata in an array of colors found only in Photoshop.  Avoid.  Avoid.  Avoid.  I would also be careful with vendors selling Lycoris seeds inexpensively.  Many Lycoris hybrids are sterile, and those that are fertile produce relatively few seeds.  It may take upwards of ten years for seedlings to reach blooming size, and that’s a long time to wait to find out if an eBay seller was legitimate.  Lycoris bulbs aren’t cheap, but I think you’re much better off paying for mature bulbs than trying to grow from seed.  Save that for when your own plants start flowering.

I have had good experiences with all of the following vendors.  Bulbs were healthy, mature, and correctly labeled.  All  are in the USA.  Sorry, European and Asian readers.

Plant Delights (plants grown in pots and shipped with fresh roots)

Bulbmeister (bulbs dug up immediately before shipping, so roots are fresh)

Telos Rare Bulbs (plants grown in pots and shipped with fresh roots)

Easy to Grow Bulbs

Edens Blooms

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