How to Transplant a Dividing Spider Lily


Spider lily, magic lily, hurricane lily, and surprise lily are all given names for the lily that grows in an abundance of lance shaped, green leaves, which die before a flower ever blooms. Later in the season, a slender stem will arch up and produce a single delicate lily with slender petals that resemble spider's legs. Varieties of the spider lily bloom in shades of pink, gold, and bright red. These bulb bloomers are prized for their ability to multiply quickly, enabling the gardener to dig up and divide the daughter bulbs for new plantings. Divide the clumps every five years or sooner if flowers appear smaller or not as vigorous.

Step 1

Dig bulbs in the fall, making a wide circle around the clump of spider lilies. Take care not to cut through the spreading bulbs.

Step 2

Gently lift the clump with a shovel or garden fork and place on a mesh screen over a garbage can. Spray the clump with water until the soil and debris is removed into the can. Allow the bulbs to dry completely.

Step 3

Divide the small bulbs from the mother bulb carefully. You will notice mature bulbs, with diameters of up to 2 inches and smaller bulbs. Sandra Mason, Unit Educator of Horticulture & Environment for the University of Illinois Extension, suggests that although the mature bulbs are the most likely to flower, all bulb sizes may be re-planted.

Step 4

Store bulbs if you live in a zone colder than 5, as frost damage could kill them if left in the ground. Pack dry bulbs upside down, with the roots intact, in vermiculite. Place in a container in a dark, cool place, safe from pests.

Step 5

Re-plant bulbs in the fall in zones 5 and above. Spring planting is best for zones below 5 where bulbs are stored indoors over winter. Plant in clumps of up to five bulbs at 4 to 6 inches deep. Clumps should be spaced 6 inches apart to allow for future bulb division.

Step 6

Water the transplanted spider lily bulbs in the fall if rainfall is not adequate. Water spring planted spider lily bulbs to ensure root establishment for summer blooms. Do not allow the soil to get soggy, which will encourage root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • Hose
  • Wire screen
  • Garbage can
  • Vermiculite
  • Container


  • University of Illinois Extension, Homeowner's Column: The Surprise In Surprise Lilies
  • University of Arkansas, Divison of Agriculture: Plant of the Week, Red Spiderlily
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Storing Tender Bulbs and Bulblike Structures

Who Can Help

  • Ohio State University Fact Sheet: Growing Hardy Bulbs
Keywords: dividing spiderlily bulbs, transplanting spiderlily bulbs, planting spiderlily bulbs

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.