Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rain Lily

Pink Rain Lilies
Rain Lily Rosea

The wonderful weather we have been having with frequent rains caused a rather surprising riot of color in my balcony one morning. Almost out of nowhere and with no warning there were a multitude of rainlily buds! Unfortunately, they decided to flower in fantastic profusion and all together on a weekday. This meant ofcourse that we would be late to work. :(

I first saw the rainlily in houses in Indiranagar where they were used as hedging or in pots on the boundary wall. They are also common in office campuses. Any plant that grows in corporate campuses is easy to grow. So if you are looking for additions to your garden, first look in your office.

I got mine (Pink and Yellow) from Madeena Nursery on Sarjapur road - a wonderful sprawling nursery with lot of variety and very helpful staff. Its been about a year and this was the first time they have bloomed in unison. The white blooms very often, the pink rarely but regularly, the yellow being the last.

The blooming pot :)
Colourful spring morning - I envy my neighbour's view

The flowers will turn to face the sun. In my case that means they turn towards my neighbour's balcony. :(

How it got the name

The botanical name - Zephyranthes is a genus of species in the Amaryllis family (subfamily Amaryllidoideae). Family: Amaryllidaceae (amarlyllis family)

Zephyrus, or just Zephyr (Greek: Z├ęphuros, "the west wind"), in Latin Favonius, is the Greek god of the west wind. The gentlest of the winds, Zephyrus is known as the fructifying wind, the messenger of spring.

The blooming of the flowers are said to herald the onset of spring. In our case in India, however, they herald the monsoon season and the end of hot summers. Hence the common name - rain lily. They bloom during the rains.

Meet the family

Closeup Pink Rainlily
The Rain Lily Rose - closeup

Zephyranthes rosea - Rain Lily Rose

Rose Rain Lily are small flowers that are pink in color with a green base. The flowers are much smaller that of Rain Lily Pink (which is a light pink) and the white and yellow. The throat is distinctly green. Leaf blades are dull green. They are wider and shorter than the pointy spring onion like leaves of the yellow and the white.

Flowers are erect to slightly bent, bright pink in color, funnel-shaped, Flower tube is green, increasing in diameter. Flowering season is March-July.

Pink Confusion

The Z.carinata is called the Pink Rain Lily and is light pink (strawberry milkshake colour) they have larger flowers and have 6 petals. The Rose rain lily has a darker pink (kissan strawberry jam color) Z. rosea blooms are smaller and have greater than 6 petals, sometimes 8.

Yellow Rain Liles
Zephyranthes citrina - The Yellow Rain Lily

Zephyranthes citrina - Yellow Rain Lily

The bright one-inch lemon yellow flowers of this rain lily face upwards and flare open. (Unlike the rosea which never opens out fully).
The leaves are slender and light green and stand erect most of the time, when dry and in need of watering they will droop. The propagation is supposedly by bulbs. (though I have propagated them by seed )

A personal observation: the yellow lily was in bloom for only 2 days, after which it closed completely and started seed production. The pink lasted longer by a day. The white out lasts them all and is in bloom for days on end.

Seed production starts immediately after the flowers are dry, 3 pointed bulbs emerge where the flower was, starting small and eventually getting quite large, as big as a pepper seed. Then it dries and opens. Each pod has 3 stacks of black flat teardrop shaped seeds. Collect and plant, make more lilies:)

Rain Lillies
Zephyranthes candida - The white rain lily

Zephyranthes candida - Rain Lily white

It is native of the warmer parts of America, also called Fairy Lily. The solitary flowers consisting of 6 pointed petals have sturdier stalks than the yellow.
These are common and very popular, they can be acquired from most nurseries, their leaves are darker green and fatter than the other 2 varieties.

Hippeastrum hybrid - Amaryllis Lily



These are Mom's lilies

This is my mom's plant and her image of it. I borrowed it from her flickr stream. Hers are blooming too, so if you're looking to acquire these plants, the time is now.

Hippeastrum is a genus of about 70-75 species and 600+ hybrids and cultivars of bulbous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae. They are native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. These plants are popularly but erroneously known as Amaryllis, which is an African genus, in the same family.

They are pretty large compared to the small rainlily and bloom in a set of 4 flowers.

Colors include red, rose, pink, white, orange, yellow and pale green with variations on these including different colored stripes and edges on the petals.

When to Buy

When buying these plants, its best to time your purchase to the blooming period because most nurseries just keep all the varieties close together and cannot assure you of the color of the bloom. The Rosea can be made out easily, but you'll have trouble differentiating between yellow and white.

Yellow Rain Liles
More of the yellow - Cant get enough of them


Plant it, give it some water and then forget about it. When the leaves begin to droop a little, water it a bit. While Zephyranthes can stand dry periods, if you want the graceful green leaves to remain, you may need to add some water occasionally. If you let them dry for a week and water them later, the flowering cycle can be triggered.

I found this works best with the white variety, which is very common. The pink and yellow are pretty rare in bangalore and I only found them in this particular nursery.

Zephyranthes do best with a little shade, they can be planted around the base of trees or shrubs in a garden and will serve to hide fallen dried leaves and keep the ground moist by discouraging evaporation.

The flowers of some species are said to have a sweet, pleasant fragrance. I sniffed diligently around all of mine (the things I do for this blog!) - no smell :(

They do well in containers outdoors and in balconies and windows, but not as houseplants. Don't keep them indoors. They can withstand full sun, but you'll have better results if they have a small amount of shade. The pots need not be big or deep. I have 2 varieties in a single long window sill pot, and they co-habit very

Shobha Kamath
Flowers of India
Rain Lily | Garden Guides


Shobha Kamath said...

They looks so pretty especially the pink and yellow lillies together !

Asha Ram said...

Hi! Landed here from Google search. Glad to see a nice garden blog site; lovely photos! I have a tiny terrace garden, and I blog about my experiments; do visit my blog some time.


Anonymous said...

Thanks 4 sharing ..

Anil said...

Flowers are looking great!!
Pics are clear and have good clarity - clicked by experienced photographer
I have Amaryllis Lily but looking for rain lily bulbs –all three colors? When can I source them from?

Unknown said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. You can find the white and pink lillies in most nurseries. The yellow is rare. Try the nursery in Jeevanbhima nagar.
If you feel up to it, you can drive to Nandi Hills, they are all over the slopes right now. Take a small shovel and scoop up a couple! :)

Anil said...

Thanks for the info but unfortunately I am not in Bangalore. I stay in Gurgaon and couldn't find them in nursery here.

Unknown said...

@Anil: I had no idea you were not in Bangalore! The Rain lillies can also be grown from seed.
It is very much possible to get them in North India. My Father-in-law in patna has them blooming as we speak. You may need to reach out for seeds from blogging gardeners in your area.

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