Lycoris chinensis

Common Name: lycoris 
Type: Bulb
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Native Range: China, South Korea
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Golden yellow to orange
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 5-9 where bulbs are typically grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Generally performs well in sandy loams. Plant bulbs 9” apart in fall with the top 1/4" of the neck of each bulb exposed. Plants appreciate consistent moisture during their active growing season, but are best sited in areas where soils remain relatively dry during the summer dormant period. Plants will naturalize by bulb offsets and form small colonies over time. Plants are best left undisturbed in the soil. If transplanted, bulbs may not flower for one or more years. North of USDA Zone 5, bulbs should be grown in large and deep containers that are overwintered indoors.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lycoris chinensis, commonly called golden spider lily or yellow surprise lily, is a herbaceous perennial native to moist, wooded slopes of central and eastern China and South Korea. The strap-like foliage emerges from the underground bulb in spring before dying back in summer. The scapes (leafless flowering stalks) will reach 2' tall and emerge in late summer. Umbels of 5-6 blooms are held atop the scapes. The petal-like tepals are typically strongly recurved with wavy margins, and bright golden yellow to nearly orange in color.

Genus name honors a Roman beauty, the mistress of Mark Antony.

The specific epithet chinensis means "from China", in reference to the native range of this species.

The common names golden spider lily and yellow spider lily refer to the color of the blooms of this species. Plants in the genus Lycoris have acquired a number of different common names over time including resurrection flower, surprise lily, magic lily, and mystery lily in recognition of the somewhat magically surprising rise from the dead of the flower stalks in late summer after summer dormancy. Additional common names include naked ladies and spider lily.


No serious insect or disease problems. Plants may take a few seasons to establish in the St. Louis climate.


Sunny borders. Interplant with other perennials (including low growing ground covers) and/or annuals. Can be grown in colder climates in containers that must be brought indoors over winter.