I just love when plants do things and we don’t really know why. The rain lily, for instance, is quite unique in that you may not even know it’s there until it rains. Then, they just appear, popping up all over the place.
Lately, I’ve seen quite a few. You have to pay close attention, or you may think it’s just another flowering weed.
What you’ll see is a long, slender stem with a small, six-leafed flower at the top.
There are around 70 species of Zephyranthes and Habranthus, which are called rain lilies, fairy lilies and rain flower, since they all bloom before, during and after rainfall.
They are native and do well where it’s warm, tropical and humid, so they are much more common in the southeastern parts of the U.S., in Mexico and South America.
Even when rainfall is scarce, like around here, these plants can survive with very little care. They come from a small bulb and are in the amaryllis family. The most common colors are pink and white, but with hybridizing, there are now yellow, orange, red, and evened some with patterns.
Rain lilies can be planted from the seeds the flowers produce, by planting the bulb, or even dividing a larger clump into several plants. Once they are planted and established, they need very little care. How much moisture they receive determines whether their long, slender leaves stay or turn brown.
Rain lilies are considered slightly poisonous, so you may want to plant them away from where children and pets play. This also makes them quite resistant to deer, small rodents and insects. Their leaves might be nibbled on, however, by snails and slugs.
I love my rain lilies. They are green tufts all year, and have quite a display when the weather conditions are right for rain. I have them by my rain barrel so they have access to rain water pretty much year-round.
Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org