Care of Zephyranthes Candida

by M.H. Dyer

Often called rain lily for its tendency to bloom after a rainfall, Zephyranthes candida displays funnel-shaped white flowers with pink throats in late summer and early autumn. The attractive foliage consists of long, grassy leaves and erect stems that each bear a single bloom. Zephyranthes candida is evergreen in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. In cooler climates, the tender bulbs require winter protection.

1 Feed Zephyranthes candida in early spring, using a slow-release, 5-10-10 fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer at a rate of 2 to 3 tablespoons per plant. Sprinkle the fertilizer on the soil around the plant, then water deeply to distribute the fertilizer evenly and prevent burning the roots. Provide a second application when blooming begins.

2 Water thoroughly whenever the surface of the soil is dry. As a general rule, the Zephyranthes candida plant requires 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water every week, either through rainfall or supplemental irrigation. Water with a garden hose or soaker hose to keep the foliage dry. If you water overhead, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry before nightfall. Damp leaves and overly humid conditions promote fungal diseases.

3 Clip blooms as soon as they wilt to keep the plants looking neat. Allow stems and leaves to remain in place until the foliage dies down and turns brown at the end of the season. The green foliage provides nourishment the bulbs require to bloom the following spring.

4 Dig Zephyranthes candida bulbs after the foliage dies down in autumn if you live in a cool climate north of USDA zone 8. Cut the foliage down to about 4 inches, then dig the bulbs carefully with a garden fork. Cure the bulbs in a dry location for one or two days, then store the bulbs in a cardboard box or other ventilated container filled with vermiculite, sawdust or peat moss. Replant the bulbs in spring.

5 Sprinkle a commercial slug bait on the soil around the plant if you notice evidence of slugs and snails. Apply the bait at a rate of 1 teaspoon per square yard. Use a non-toxic bait if you have children or pests. If the infestation is light, pick the slugs off by hand and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Treat slugs in the evening or early morning, when the pests are active.

Items you will need

  • Slow-release, 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Garden hose or soaker hose
  • Garden shears
  • Garden fork
  • Cardboard box or other ventilated container
  • Vermiculite, sawdust or peat moss
  • Slug bait
  • Bucket
  • Soapy water

Tip

  • Zephyranthes candida is related to Habranthus spp. and Cooperia spp., similar bulbs of the Amaryllis family that also flower after a rain. Species of these genera share many common names, including fairy lily, zephyr lily and rain lily.

Warning

  • Plant Zephyranthes with care if you have children or pets, because most species of this genus are toxic. Eating the bulbs and other plant parts may cause diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions and may cause death in extreme cases.