Wildflower Wednesday: Zephyranthes atamasca
For this month's Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone, I am featuring a rain garden favorite, Zephyranthes atamasca. More commonly referred to as native rain lily.
If the botanical name sounds Greek to you, it is. The genus name Zephyranthes comes from Zephyrus, the mythical Greek God of the west wind, known as the fructifying wind, the messenger of spring. Appropriately, Zephyrus was also the husband of the goddess of flower, Chloris. The species name, atamasco, was the original Native American name for flower.
Originally, this plant was classified in the genus Amaryllis by Carl Linnaeus. However, botanists decided to restrict the Amaryllis to a single species from South Africa. So, in 1821, William Herbert placed it in the Zephyranthes genus.
|floriferous flowers after a good rain |
This native plant grows from a subterranean bulb. The flower petals emerge a pale pink transforming into a gorgeous creamy white in full bloom. These showy trumpet like flowers bloom on a leafless scape; each scape providing a single bloom. The sedge-like foliage is evergreen making it a good all season perennial.
|soft shades of pink in emerging and spent flower heads|
Rain lilies perform best in full sun and have an incredible tolerance for heat. Established plants deliver a spectacular show after a much needed summer pop up shower. The secret to these plants blooming prolifically in your garden is to alternate between wet and dry periods. This triggers them to bloom. They flower spring through fall but their most abundant flowering time is in summer.
This plant is native to my county in Georgia as shown on the USDA plant profile database.
|a not so graceful flower fly|
I find it fascinating to observe all the insect around plants. Not just the pollinators who visit but other beneficial insects that keep the equilibrium in the garden. Here are a few that have been hanging out in the rain lilies.
|pink spotted lady beetle on rain lily|
|spider lurking on the petals for unsuspecting prey |
How to use it in the landscape
We planted rain lilies as a perennial border in our rain garden. This is a highly visible garden at the front of our home. On the street side of the bed, the rain lilies are partnered with cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), southern blue flag iris (Iris virginica) and blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium). In the middle of the bed is seashore mallow (Kissteletzkya virginica), summersweet clethera (Clethera alnifolia) and wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera).
|street view: rain lily border |
On the house side of the bed, the rain lilies are planted with black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and southern shield fern (Thelypteris kunthil), which will grow in full sun when constant moisture is available.
|house side of rain garden: with black-eyed Susan and Southern shield fern|
In nature rain lilies grow in acidic, mesic soils with lots of leaf mulch but in the home landscape they can make a great addition to a rock garden, perennial border, wildflower meadow or even in container plantings. They can perform in evenly moist soil or well drained soils.
|Rain lilies growing with gaillardia and creeping thyme in rock garden|
This is a versatile, low maintenance, native wildflower that is a worthy performer in the home landscape. Give it a try.