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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

OXBLOOD LILIES Rhodophiala bifida

Oxblood lilies, Rhodophiala bifida, are such a common sight in our gardens and on garden posts at this time of year that I was almost hesitant to write about them. Surely everyone knows about this truly delightful fall-flowering bulb. However, there are plenty of newcomers to Texas every year and frequent new questions on Facebook asking for an id, so I  thought I would share the ones growing in my garden. They all came as pass-alongs. 



By far the largest grouping I have is in the Secret Garden.

Sometimes called schoolhouse lilies or hurricane lilies they are the harbingers of the cooler weather to come. Watering with irrigation will not make them bloom but when rain is accompanied by a drop in temperature and pressure they will burst out of the ground and into bloom. My first passalongs came in flower with their bulb attached and with instruction I put them in a bowl of water to enjoy in the house until the blooms faded. As the flowers come first followed by leaves, which remain all winter and well into summer, when planted after the flower fades they will have plenty of time to bulk up the bulbs for next year's flowering.

It was only yesterday that I noticed one in the Front Courtyard garden tucked in behind the daylilies and the phlox, Phlox paniculata 'John Fanick' I think I may have put one or two of the originals in there and then moved most of them.

I have decided that this was a perfect place and combination. The day lily 'Tiny pumpkin' blooms early on in the year, the phlox comes into bloom into the summer tolerating our Texas heat and humidity well, and finally the Oxblood lily takes the show into the fall. And its strappy foliage will be hidden during the winter through early summer. Always one of the problems with bulbs. Coupled with spring flowering love-in-a-mist and rose campion I think I may have finally settled on a planting scheme that works well for this area. I have also seen a stunning planting in among Mexican river rocks along a driveway edge.

If you purchase or receive oxblood lily bulbs then plant them about 3" deep. They are fuss-free and do not need rich soil. Just sit back and watch them multiply.


  1. They're lovely and I'd be thrilled to see a harbinger of cooler weather appear in my own garden! I can't recall ever seeing them here but my Sunset Western Garden Book assure me that they'll bloom here if given water regularly during their growing period. That's the rub, I suppose, as rain generally comes so much later here.

  2. Striking. They look like amaryllis cousins. Gotta love it when plants do well in your garden with little intervention.

  3. Those are charming. They look like they have the perfect spot at the perfect moment in that second photo. I'll have to try some. Here we have the Amaryllis belladonna flowering at this time of year. I also grow Sprekelia, not quite the same and summer blooming, but also a beautiful red.

  4. Our gardens are in sync. No "surprises" there. :)


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