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Garden Club of Cape Coral | Rain lilies – our summer treat

By SHERIE BLEILER - Garden Club of Cape Coral | Jul 3, 2024

Water lilies. PROVIDED

We are so lucky to be here to enjoy the bounty of flowers that the summer rains bring!

Most of the year, rain lilies look like grass, about a foot tall, and go totally unnoticed. They can be mowed if in your lawn. They have a bulb the size of a small radish several inches below the surface and are related to amaryllis. They happily do their grass impersonation until a bunch of rain shows up.

A couple of weeks ago, we received 6-9 inches of rain in three days. A few days later, my “grass” turned into a sea of white flowers! The flowers open several inches above the leaves. These last several days and go quiet until the next burst of rain, blooming off and on all summer. Then in the fall, when the snowbirds return, they rest as grass look-a-likes for the winter.

There are many species of rain lilies that are white, pink or yellow, plus new hybrids in new colors. One of the white ones is Treat’s rain lily, (Zephyranthes treatiae), a Florida native, common in pastures, sunny flatwoods and mowed roadsides. They are considered threatened by habitat loss. Years ago, a gardener handed me a handful of bulbs, and they have been blooming in my garden every summer ever since.

The stunning rosepink zephyr lily or grandiflora is twice as large, with flowers up to 4 inches wide. It is native from Mexico south to Columbia. The yellow or Citron rain lily is from the Yucatan of Mexico. It does not produce side bulbs but it does produce copious seeds, which means it may be found where it is not welcomed. “Grandjax” is a sterile hybrid, so it produces no seeds but is prolific in producing new bulbs. It is a soft pastel pink/white. More varieties are being developed so you may buy them now in a variety of colors.

Rain lily is one of the easiest bulbs to grow in Florida needing little care after planting. It tolerates most soil conditions and will not need fertilizer, irrigation or replanting. Rain lily seems to flower best when

clumps are left undisturbed. Because they are small, these lilies look best growing in mass. Each year, the bulbs will produce more bublets next to them, and the area will grow outward. Since they look like liriope, they work as substitutes along the border of your garden or between other bulbs and perennials.

For those who love to garden, there is a plant sale and a couple of classes coming up at Rotary Park, 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral. For more information, call Rotary Park at 239-549-4606.

• Friday, July 26, 6-9 p.m., Intro To Florida Friendly Landscaping. Join us to learn the nine principles that guide Florida-friendly landscaping in Lee County.

• Saturday, July 27, 10 a.m., Rain Barrel Workshop.

• Saturday, July 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Native Plant Sale. Shop from a variety of native trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses, butterfly plants and tropical edibles, too.

Plant experts will be on hand to answer questions and help you choose the right plant for the right place. Come early for the best selection.

Happy summer gardening!

Sherie Bleiler volunteers at the Cape Coral Library Butterfly Garden and is past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral. Visit GardenClubofCapeCoral.com. Also, please like us on our Facebook page.