Zones 5a to 9b? Where (and How) Does Pink Surprise Lily Flourish?

Although we recommend pink surprise lilies (Lycoris squamigera) for zones 6a-7b(8bWC) only, we have customers in zone 5b who’ve told us they do well for them there, and some authorities recommend them all the way from zone 5a through 9b, so we wanted to ask:

  1. If you garden in zone 6a or colder: Is pink surprise lily winter-hardy for you, and do you have any tips — sun, soil, planting depth, watering, winter protection, etc. — for getting it to multiply and bloom happily?
  2. If you garden in zone 8a or warmer: Is pink surprise lily thriving for you, and do you have any tips — sun, soil, planting depth, watering, winter protection, etc. — for getting it to multiply and bloom happily?

One zone-5b garden where we know they’re flourishing is the spectacular Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden in downtown Des Moines. Garden manager Sandra Gerdes sent us this photo and wrote, “I love the surprise lilies, and they always generate a lot of comments from visitors, which is why I’m ordering more to add to our patch. You can also see clusters blooming in the older, established neighborhoods of Des Moines when you drive around in August. It is ‘surprising’ that we have success with them here in zone 5b, while you say they can be a challenge in 6a. We definitely experience the extremes of winter and summer here on the prairie! As the saying goes, ‘Plants can’t read those catalog restrictions.’”


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