October Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Spider Lily, Lycoris radiata

Lycoris radiata is most often referred to by one of its common names. We always called them Spider Lilies, but in other parts of the South, it is known as Hurricane Lily, since it blooms at the height of Hurricane Season. Each summer we are plagued here in Georgia with a drought that goes on for weeks (if not months), and in September we'll finally get a drenching rain. It is after that good soaking rain that Spider Lilies pop up in old gardens of the South. This year, we did not receive that soaking rain at all, so the Spider Lilies finally bloomed without it--in October.

Lycoris radiata blooms have extremely long anthers that give them a "spider-like" appearance, hence the common name Spider Lily. Once the flowers fade, dark green basal leaves appear that look much like liriope (or "monkey grass", as it usually called around here.) Its leaves will stay green all winter here in Georgia, absorbing nutrients from the sun to convert into energy for the next summer's blooms.

Lycoris radiata is hardy only in the Deep South, in USDA Zones 7-10, but it is still easy to grow. Like other members of the Lycoris family, it tolerates any soil in either sun or shade and needs no supplemental water to thrive. 

I have only the red blooming Spider Lily, but it also can be found in white. I'm still looking for some.

All species of Lycoris should be divided or transplanted only when dormant, so as not to interrupt its bloom and growth. Early summer is the optimum time for this task. Once the foliage has withered, it is safe to dig the bulbs.

Lycoris does extremely well beneath large established trees.

The flowers make excellent cut flowers and hold up well in a vase, lasting for several days in a floral arrangement. 

And one more thing: Deer won't eat your Spider Lilies!

October Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Asters

Aster 'Raydon's Favorite' in October
If you see me when I come home from pretty much anywhere this time of year, you'll find me unloading at least one mum. I bring one home almost every time I go to the store. But where do they end up? Well, I do plant them of course. But they just don't last very long in my garden here in Georgia. Our summers are very hot and dry. This year, the drought has extended into Fall. This is the driest Fall I can remember. We haven't had any rain at all in over 2 months.

Unlike Chrysanthemums, Asters, will live on for years, in spite of the drought we usually suffer here in Georgia. There are many Fall blooming Aster varieties to choose from, and I intend to add them all to my garden! There are asters for full sun and asters that will bloom well in shade.

Symphyotricum oblongifolium 'Raydon's Favorite' is covered with lavender daisy-like blooms every Fall in September and October. The aromatic foliage reminds me of mint and deer do not like it.

Butterflies and other pollinators love all varieties of aster. In mid-Fall, most other flowers have finished blooming, but the Fall asters are just getting started. Most aster plants are just covered in flowers this time of year. Asters make excellent cut flowers, lasting a long time in a Fall floral arrangement.

Our native asters are much easier to grow than chrysanthemums. Once established they are quite drought tolerant, thriving on sunny hillsides even in the midst of a drought. Asters tolerate just about any soil--dry, clay, or sandy.

This native plant can be grown anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8. Most asters like full sun, but there are asters that bloom even in shade.

This year The Garden Club of America named Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite' as the 2016 Plant of the year, so it definitely deserves to be in your garden.

The only negative I can think of with Raydon's Favorite is that it will grow quite tall and flop over if it isn't pruned early in the summer. I am bad about forgetting to prune.

June Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Oakleaf Hydrangea

This time of year our garden is always bursting with blooms, but this year has been a little different. Due to a very mild winter, everythin...