Rain Lily / Zephyranthes Planting Guide

Mini members of the Amaryllis family, rain lilies hail from the Rio de la Plata region of South America. These diminutive darlings make an outstanding a chorus, being most impressive in groups rather than individually. Low cost, needing minimal care and excelling as naturalizers, rain lilies fall squarely into the “why wouldn’t any smart gardener include them?” category.

Choosing a Growing Site

Native to Uruguay and Argentina, rain lilies are used to heat and humidity and can take anything that comes their way in that department. Full sun, Texas heat in August – no problemo.

Soil Prep

If you are planting in the ground, look for a site that drains well. Rian lilies are happy in average soil and do not thrive in soggy soil. Planting in containers? Any standard potting mix will work well.

When to Plant Rain Lilies

Plant outdoors in spring when frost danger has past and soil has warmed. The less time rain lily bulbs spend out of the soil, the better. Please plant promptly.

How to Plant

Loosen your soil and poke these little bulbs down about 2-3”. Place with the pointy end facing up. After planting, water well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Sprouts typically appear within 2 to 3 weeks.

During the Season

Rain lilies need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two. Their grass like foliage grows all summer and flowers appear suddenly in response to late summer and early fall rains.

At the Season’s End

In zones 7-10, simply leave your rain lilies in the garden; they’ll overwinter successfully. In colder regions, there are three choices. First, you can treat your rain lilies like annual and replace in the spring; this is what most people do. Second, you can wait until the foliage yellows, lift the bulbs, trim off the leaves and store in in slightly damp peat in a cool (45-55 degrees), dark place. Or, you can bring potted rain lilies indoors when the weather cools, place next to a sunny window and enjoy as a houseplant. They may or may not flower inside.

Insider Tips

  1. Even with their small flowers, rain lilies are favorites of butterflies.
  2. Rain lilies naturalize well and sometimes grow from seed. Seed-grown babies may bloom in the same color(s) as the parent plants, but not always.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full sun to light shade

Soil: Average

Depth: Cover with 2-3" of soil

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Close up positions; these are small plants

Tip: Late summer rains tease these into almost instant bloom

GUIDE: Rain Lily or Zephyranthes Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: