Crinum lily, or Spider Lily, is a fast growing, large perennial herb that is popular because it is one of the most striking of the lilies. They can only be grown outdoors in a small area of the country since they are tropical plants.
The crinum lily belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family of plants, which has 870 species. Members of the family include amaryllis, daffodils, snowdrops, rain lilies, Aztec lilies, blood lilies and the rare blue amaryllis.
The crinum lily is hardy in only the warmest zones in the United States: zone 8 in the deep South to zone 10 in southernmost Florida, the Gulf Coast and California and in zone 11 in Hawaii. Crinum lilies grow best in full sun-at least 6 hours of sunshine a day-to partial shade.
The crinum lily is shaped like a tube that opens at the top into a display of narrow arcing petals that can be white, pinkish red, striped or multi-colored. The appearance is similar to that of a spider. Crinum lilies bloom from late summer into the fall. Some varieties are extremely fragrant. The crinum lily produces dark green leaves that form a dense cluster.
The crinum lily can grow to a height of about 5 feet and grows in clumps up to 7 feet wide. The leaves can be as long as 3 feet and as wide as 4 inches. They grow from bulbs that can weigh from 10 to 20 pounds.
The crinum lily can be uses as a border, in beds with other flowers or in containers on a deck or patio. It also works as a stand-alone plant in the middle of the lawn. They can also be used in an xeriscape, a landscaping concept for drought conditions and reduced water usage. The flowers can be cut for an indoor arrangement.
Planting and Care
Plant the crinum lily so that the tip of the bulb is just below the surface and space them about 12 inches apart. Then give them a good soaking. Planting the right side up is most important. The top of the bulb will come to a point, or a tip, and the bottom will be flat. Since it blooms in the late summer and fall, the best time to plant is the previous fall.
The crinum lily needs well-drained soil, regular watering and a once a month application of a liquid fertilizer. It does well in dry soil and is drought resistant. The crinum lily bulb will grow offshoots. It is beneficial to dig up the plant and remove the offshoots. If left alone, they will grow and make the clump much bigger. The offshoots can be transplanted to create another plant.
Leaf spots, caterpillars and grasshoppers are the primary problems. Plants that are grown in zone 8 can be damaged by winter frosts, but they recover on their own rather rapidly. The crinum lily is not edible and can cause mild to sever discomfort if swallowed. The sap of the plant can cause skin irritation.