Story and Photos By Yvonne Lelong Bordelon
Native swamp spider lily (Hymenocallis occidentalis) is a moisture-loving perennial plant that sports clusters of 6-8-inch, ghostly white, richly fragrant flowers. The gorgeous spring blooms also attract pollinators, including hummingbirds, and the plants are highly deer resistant. Who could ask for more?
In the wild, this easy-to-grow member of the amaryllis family (Liliaceae) is found in bogs, swamps, and along streams – making it perfect for water gardens, rain gardens, woodland gardens, and around ponds. The long-lived bulbs multiply quickly and are most impressive when grown en masse.
Good companions include southern blue flag iris (I. virginica), American crinum lily (Crinum americanum), water canna (C. glauca), Texas star hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus), and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).
Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Swamp spider lily, woodland spider lily
Botanical Name: Hymenocallis occidentallis, syn. H. caroliniana
Blooming Period: Spring
Type: Native perennial bulb
Mature Size: 18-28 inches
Exposure: Full sun to part-shade
When to Plant: Fall
How to Plant: Plant as a specimen or in groups in moist to wet, rich, acidic soil. Propagate by dividing the clumps of bulbs or by planting the large fleshy green fruit as soon as it ripens. Please plant only nursery-grown stock, as wild stands are rare in some localities.
In Your Landscape: The enormous fragrant flowers of native spider lily will add interest to the spring landscape for years to come.