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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Spider Lily (Hymenocallis littoralis)


Hymenocallis littoralis commonly known as Spider Lily or Beach Spider Lily native to surrounding regions around South America however these were wildly cultivated all around many tropical regions as ornamental plants. 

These were very much popular few decades ago and often used as landscape plants due to the strong ability to adapt and grow in poor soil conditions and hardiness. Often it does well without much care ranging from very shaded area zones to open direct sunlight areas. These were often used as border plants.

Often a single bulb may able to colonize the whole area with many surrounding bulbs multiplying over the years. Also it does very well when hard pruned, especially cutting off all the leaves right to the bottom of the leaves which may trigger flower blooming spikes.

It been said that this particular one is very suitable as seaside / beachside plant as the ability to withstand the salt intake for soil medium. However this particular lily bulb plant is very versatile and able to grow in any soil conditions too.


The main factor that I want to make mention is the mesmerizing fragrance these blooms emit during evening time. These can last almost few days to a week as cut flowers in a vase. If left in the garden, new flower buds may appear to replace the spend flowers and it can be in constant blooms for few weeks until the main flower stem stalk fades away for the next blooming season.

To describe the fragrance - it emits a strong stable fragrance in the evening where it can fill a whole room - the sweet notes are very much similar like any lily floral scent. This one constantly emits waves of fragrance in the air that you really don't need to get close to the bloom to sniff the scent.

The flowers appears like what it is described as Spider Lily, 6 spiked petals together with a funnel shaped circular single cupped petal linked with elongated stamens with powdered yellow pollen anthers. Another protruding longer stigma attracted at the center of the bloom.

However with all these elaborate fancy features for these flower structure, these rarely set to seed nor produce any produce - the whole flower spike eventually turn yellow, falls and rot away.


Considering one of the most basic thing about planting material - this one doesn't require anything special - just any balanced potting mix will do. They seem to do fine in a medium or big potted plant - however they will do great if they are planted directly into the garden soil as these will require just that to produce those lovely blooms.

However if limitation occurs where you can only grow in pot - then a good balanced potting mix with rich amount of organic material and equal part of well drained soil which will help from bulb rot. 

Instance as such as these - they are often planted straight into open garden land where they are not in a pot - hence they appear hardy and able to take the heavy pruning.


Being a Tropical plant does require good strong indirect bright sunshine, It can tolerate growing in shaded area however it must receive at least few hours of sunshine. It does not do well in heavy shaded area and may not bloom in such conditions. Also the leaves may turn yellow to light green/pale green and also become leggy. Another factor in the lack of sunlight may cause the plant to become stress and can attract pest to heavily attack on them.

Hence do give a thought if your are not having open garden area as this would not so well as indoor plant - even placing them as a balcony potted plant can be challenging if they do not receive adequate light.


It may require a good adequate watering - both morning and evening based on the size of the plant.
You can grow it in a nice medium or large size pot, the plant will behave and grow based on the size of the pot. However I would recommend this to grow freely on ground if you want lushful beautiful constant blooms.

Also this plant is a heavy feeder and do feed adequately during the flowering season.
However take note that over-watering can cause them to bulb rot especially during the rainy season, hence a well balance fast draining medium to ensure no rot occurs.

However once the plant had established itself based on the garden conditions especially fully exposed to open sun and rain - then this plant is considered a hardy plant and there is no need to worry about it.


Pruning is the main factor that causes these spider lily to produce optimum flower spikes. The pruning method -  the foliage needs to be totally trimmed from the neck of the bulb, leaving just the bulb exposed slightly above from the ground surface - very similar like cutting grass. Do take note not to damage the bulbs in the process. 

Eventually the new growth will appear with the flower spike first before the new leaves emerges. The other factor of the flower spike bloom appears usually takes place during a hot dry season of a drought - where it doesn't receive any rain or water for weeks and when it is exposed to rain - these will explode with a strong new growth starting with these flower spikes.

If you have planted these in a stable garden condition where these receive constant and stable watering, you may face a challenge where these may refuse to produce the flower spikes - pruning would be the best method to spark off the stress blooming for this garden condition.


These are smooth, glossy and thick, juicy leaves, these are very much succulent in appearance and may able to crack and break when the leaves are fold in half. However do note that the juice can cause rashes upon skin contact - hence do take caution on this factor.

Do click on the link below for more information on Other Types of  Tropical Fragrant Flowers:
Best Tropical Fragrant Flowering Plants


Lucia said...

Thanks for your comment and visit!

I love these flowers too! We have other species of Hymenocallis here...

James David said...

Welcome Lucia & thanks for the nice comment.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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