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How to Grow Zephyranthes Plants

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Rain Lily, Magic lily and Zephyr lily

Zephyranthes are hardy bulbs that range from 5 cm to 30 cm in height; this makes them great for using in rock gardens.

They have grass like foliage and bloom from spring to autumn (species dependent).

When in bloom, plants carry pink, red, white, or yellow funnel shaped flowers.

Some of the commonly grown garden varieties of Zephyranthes include Zephyr lily, Atamasco lily, Rain lily, and Flowers of the Western wind.

Zephyranthes candida
Zephyranthes candida by scott.zona.

Zephyranthes Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Rain Lily, Magic lily, Fairy lily, Atamasco lily, Rainflower, Zephyr lily, Flowers of the Western wind.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy bulb. Half-hardy bulb.
  • Height: 3 to 12 inches (8–30 cm).
  • Native: Americas.
  • Growing Region: Zones 7 to 10; can be grown as annuals in zones 3 to 8.
  • Flowers: Species dependent: Spring, summer, autumn.
  • Flower Details: White, yellow, pink, red. Crocus-like. Funnel-shaped. Erect straight up stems. Even stamens.
  • Foliage: Deciduous or evergreen. Grassy. Green, often with a bronze tint.
  • Grow Outside: Usually grown from bulbs as seed grown plants can take over three years to bloom. Seeds: Cover. Spring or autumn. Bulbs: 2 to 3 inches (5–8 cm). Mid-autumn in warm areas or following the last frost in cooler areas.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: four months. Temperature: 65 to 75°F (18–24°C). Towards the end of winter. Transplant outdoors in autumn in warmer areas or following the last frost in cooler areas. Space at 3 to 4 inches (7–10 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Slightly acidic to neutral soil pH 6 to 7. Light, rich soil. Moist soil. Regular watering during dry periods. Complete spring fertilizer. Store bulbs indoors in sand for the winter in cooler areas. Propagate: from offsets.
  • Family:
  • Closely Related Species:
  • Miscellaneous: Their common name, ‘Rain lily’, comes about because their blooms open following the rain. Many parts of the plant are toxic, so wear gloves when handling them. The genus is named after the Greek words ‘Zephyrus’ (God of the west wind) and ‘anthos’ (flower).

How to Grow Rain Lily and other Zephyranthes

It is best to grow Zephyr lily and other Zephyranthes plant species from bulbs as they will not flower for about three or four years if grown from seed. The bulbs should be planted at a depth of 8 cm, and a spacing of 10 to 15 cm apart following the last frost of spring. If sowing Rain lily seeds then do so in either spring or autumn and lightly cover the seed once sown. Plants are able to grow in partially shaded or sunny parts of the garden that have good drainage. Ideally the soil should be moist, rich and have a pH of 6 to 7.

If you want to start off indoors then it should take them about 15 weeks to germinate at a temperature of 15 to 20 degrees. Once established transplant into the garden in either autumn or spring.

Caring for Zephyr lilies

It is quite easy to look after Zephyranthes species such as Rain and Zephyr lilies; they like a moist soil so water regularly in dry periods; give them a feed in the spring, and supply a mulch in the autumn to help protect the bulbs from harsh winters.

If you require more plants then propagate by planting the offsets that they produce.