The red spider lily is in the genus Lycoris, and in the amaryllis family. They are often called the red surprise lily.
In late summer, most often during September, red spider lilies will begin to sprout and bloom. The stems and flower buds quickly emerge reaching their height in about a week. Since they often go unnoticed until they are in full bloom, it is a surprise when all of the flowers appear because it happens in such a short period of time. There is no foliage present during this time.
The flower stems are about eighteen inches tall. At the top a each stem is where the flowers bloom. The red spider lily has six to eight red flowers that grow outwards, and they all bloom at the same time. The individual flowers combined create an illusion of being one large flower that is over seven inches in diameter.
The stamen of red spider lilies are also red. They reach out far beyond the petals, like red eye lashes. Shortly after the blooms fade away, the leaves of red spider lilies begin to appear, emerging from the tops of the flower bulbs. Once established, the leaves form a thick mound. They grow about eight to twelve inches long, and are less than a half-inch wide. The leaves are green with a light creamy green colored stripe along the center of its length. The foliage appears in October, then dies back at beginning of summer the following year. After the leaves yellow they can be cut or mowed.
Red spider lily bulbs are covered with a thin, protective papery skin. When the bulbs reproduce, they will divide inside this skin, similar to a garlic or shallot bulb. If conditions are favorable, in about five years, each mature flower bulb will have produced about twenty new bulbs. The bulbs will often be pushed to the top of the ground due to crowding, signaling that it is time to do some transplanting.
Like other bulbs, red spider lilies are planted with the pointed side up. The bulbs are adaptable to most types of soil. They should be planted so that the top of the bulb is about three inches below the surface. Space the bulbs about eight inches apart in well-drained soil. Red spider lily bulbs are hardy in zones seven through ten.
Red spider lilies can be planted as ornamental plants in flower gardens, borders or mass planting. They are great when used for naturalizing flowers, and make wonderful cut flower arrangements. The flowers do well in full sun; however, they will keep their bright color longer if they are grown in partial shade.