Easy methods to Develop and Take care of Aztec Lilies

Sprekelia formosissima

Bursting with blood-red blooms as fiercely stunning because the tradition that it’s named after, the Aztec lily is the proper flowering bulb for a heat, sunny panorama.

In case you are in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11 and also you’re racking your mind for a brand new flower so as to add to your backyard, you must give Sprekelia formosissima a go!

Together with boosting your property’s aesthetic, Aztec lilies appeal to helpful pollinators, which is all the time a plus.

A vertical shot of a red Aztec lily bloom growing against a fuzzy outdoor background, all with green and white text at the top and bottom of the image.

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Tolerant of warmth and salty soils, Aztec lilies aren’t too difficult to develop and look after, after getting ’em discovered. For some assist with that, our information has you coated.

Learn on to be taught the vital facets of S. formosissima cultivation, from propagation to pest administration. It’ll be a useful useful resource on your journey of discovery.

Right here’s what I’ll cowl:

What Are Aztec Lilies?

Aztec lilies – aka Sprekelia formosissima or Jacobean lilies – are herbaceous, bulbous perennials from the Amaryllidaceae household, which additionally contains crops like amaryllis (Hippeastrum), onions, daffodils, and decorative alliums.

Regardless of their frequent identify, Aztec lilies are usually not true lilies.

Aztec lilies originate from Mexico and Guatemala, the place they develop wild on uncovered outcrops and rocky slopes. In consequence, they’ve advanced to flourish in warmth, full solar, and rocky to sandy soils.

A horizontal shot of a red Aztec lily flower - with a white midrib running down the center of each petal growing in front of blurry background of green foliage.

From the underground bulbs develop three to 6 skinny inexperienced leaves, every with a central crease and most size of 15 inches.

Mounted on stiff stalks as much as a foot in top are six-inch crimson to scarlet purple flowers, every with six curved petals and yellow-tipped stamens. Once in a while, the petals could also be pink, have white to mild inexperienced midribs, and even have white edges.

Blooming anytime in spring to summer time – though they usually don’t bloom each 12 months – every flower is open for only some days earlier than it fades.

Every bulb can produce multiple flower, however often in sequence, somewhat than concurrently.

Whereas open, the flowers appeal to pollinating hummingbirds and butterflies, which, when pollinated, result in three-capsuled pods that comprise black seeds.

Practically evergreen in USDA Zones 8 to 11, these crops develop about eight to 12 inches tall and broad. They’ll additionally type bigger clumps by spreading laterally by means of bulb offsets, however that is typically a gradual course of.

These crops may be left in-ground for the winter once they’re grown in Zones 8 to 11. In cooler zones, the bulbs will have to be lifted and saved someplace hotter in the course of the chilly months earlier than they are often planted once more in spring.

A horizontal, near-overhead shot of red Aztec lily (Sprekelia formosissima) flowers glowing on a hill of low-growing plants outdoors, all in front of a brown fence.
Picture by Nadiatalent, Wikimedia Commons, by way of CC BY-SA.

Talking of growth, Aztec lilies discovered their manner into Western horticulture by means of Spanish explorers and colonists.

The Spanish introduced S. formosissima again to Europe, the place it was launched to the legendary Carl Linnaeus someday within the early seventeenth century, in the course of the Jacobean period of British historical past – therefore the frequent identify, Jacobean lily.

Linnaeus truly recognized the plant as Amaryllis formosissima, which it glided by till its reclassification into the Sprekelia genus, created in 1821 by William Herbert to honor the German gardener Johann Heinrich von Spreckelsen.

These days, Aztec lilies are a fairly planting possibility whether or not they’re grown out within the panorama or inside the house. They do particularly properly in southern gardens, the place it’s good and heat.

Aztec Lily Propagation

Making an attempt to develop some Aztec lilies of your individual? These crops may be propagated from seed, by way of bulb offsets, or by planting out bought bulbs. Let’s check out every technique.

From Seed

Rising Aztec lilies from seed undoubtedly comes with caveats.

For one, you want multiple plant for pollination to happen, since Aztec lilies aren’t self-fertile. So if all you may have is a single specimen, then seed manufacturing received’t occur.

Moreover, it takes three to seven years for seeds to develop into bloom-producing, mature grownup bulbs. So if time is of the essence, then seed propagation isn’t for you.

A vertical shot of three Aztec lily blooms growing in a green pot on gray brick in front of lush flowers outdoors.

However you probably have a number of Aztec lilies and aren’t deterred by an extended wait, let’s start!

The 1st step: purchase seeds. They are often bought, obtained from a good friend, or collected from your individual Aztec lilies.

In case you acquire seeds your self, wait till the seed pods change into tan and crispy earlier than utilizing a pointy, sterile blade to take away them from the plant, lower them open, and harvest the seeds inside.

You can even tie gauzy organza luggage across the seed pods – they’ll catch the seeds once they naturally drop from the seed pods, all whereas permitting for air flow to scale back illness threat.

As soon as a seed pod seems, the seeds must be ripe after about 4 to 6 weeks.

A vertical shot of an Aztec lily (Sprekelia formosissima) flower growing among straw and low-growing greenery underneath the dappled shade of a larger plant.
Picture by Forrest and Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons, by way of CC BY-SA.

Upon getting seeds, sow every one into a person three-inch container full of a 50:50 mixture of perlite and coconut coir. Sow every seed as deep as it’s broad – a couple of half-inch deep. Lay every seed flat on its aspect.

Moisten the media and expose the containers to brilliant, oblique mild indoors. Maintain the media moist as you look forward to the seeds to germinate, which ought to take a few weeks.

To make sure that the bulbs might be developed sufficient to resist outside circumstances, continue to grow your seedlings indoors in a brilliant, not directly lit location for not less than two years previous to transplanting.

Maintain the rising media moist all of the whereas, and repot them when there may be lower than an inch or two of area between the creating bulb and the aspect of the container.

By way of Bulb Offsets

Aztec lily bulbs develop offsets, which finally produce new shoots and roots.

As extra offsets are produced, the flowers, leaves, and stems on the mum or dad bulb don’t develop as giant, and the specimen can change into cramped in its rising web site, whether or not open air within the backyard or in a pot.

Separating offsets from the mom bulb alleviates these points, and even yields extra crops.

Nonetheless, the downside of that is that they don’t like being disturbed and will not flower for some time after division. However hey, not less than you’ll finally have extra Aztec lilies!

A vertical shot of a single Sprekelia formosissima bloom growing outdoors, with farmland, a horse paddock, and trees in the background.

To divide, look forward to the foliage to die again in fall earlier than lifting the plant from its rising web site or eradicating it from the container.

Brush off the soil from the bulb and roots so you possibly can see what you’re working with, then snap or draw back the offsets by hand.

Plant every offset two inches deep in its personal six-inch container of well-draining, but moisture-retaining media.

Water the media, place the containers in brilliant, oblique mild, and look after the offsets such as you would seedlings till the bulb is giant sufficient to transplant.

By way of Bulbs

In case you’re in Zones 8 to 11, you’ll have to plant your bulbs in fall not less than six – ideally eight – weeks earlier than the primary frost. For crops grown as annuals in colder zones, plant the bulbs in spring after the ultimate frost date.

For rising Aztec lilies in-ground, put together patches of deep, wealthy, and well-draining sandy loam soil with a pH of seven.0 to 7.8 in a full solar location. You would possibly want to conduct a soil check to verify if any amendments are wanted.

In case you’re working with clayey, acidic, and/or barren soil, you’ll need to amend it with some coarsely textured grit, limestone, and/or humus, respectively.

Plant every bulb 4 inches deep, basal plate down, and area them eight to 12 inches aside. Water them in properly.

A vertical image of a sprouted Aztec lily (Sprekelia formosissima) bulb laid out against a white background, with a 10 cm black line next to it for a measurement reference.
An Aztec lily bulb and stem. Picture by Conan Wolff, Wikimedia Commons, by way of CC BY-SA.

If you wish to develop your Aztec lilies in containers, put together a six-inch-wide, eight-inch-deep container with drainage holes for every bulb.

You can even put a number of bulbs in containers bigger than that, so long as they’re spaced not less than 4 inches aside – this’ll enable the shoots to assist one another keep upright.

Fill your chosen containers with a well-draining, but moisture-retaining medium, reminiscent of a 50:50 mixture of perlite and coconut coir. Plant the bottoms of the bulbs 4 inches deep, cowl them with media, then water in properly.

Bulbs for containerized houseplants may be planted everytime you’d like.

Easy methods to Develop Aztec Lilies

Now that you just’ve bought bulbs within the floor or in your containers and Aztec lilies a-growin’, let’s learn to finest look after them!

Local weather and Publicity Wants

Only a reminder: Aztec lilies have to be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11 to make sure their year-round survival open air.

A horizontal image of a crimson Aztec lily bloom growing among tall, narrow green foliage outdoors.

S. formosissima houseplants shouldn’t want thermostat alterations. If the temperature is comfy for you, then it’s comfy for them!

Mild-wise, full solar publicity is good, though partial solar can be acceptable in particularly heat climates.

Aztec lilies grown as houseplants ought to obtain as a lot mild as potential – spots close to south- or east-facing home windows are good.

Soil Wants

The best soil for S. formosissima is well-draining, fertile, and impartial to barely alkaline. Present an organically wealthy, sandy loam with a pH of seven.0 to 7.8, and also you’re golden.

A vertical close-up of Aztec lily flowers growing in front of a background of evergreen plants.

Yearly in spring, work a one- to two-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure into your planting beds, being cautious to not disturb the bulbs.

Water and Fertilizer Wants

Aztec lilies love even moisture in the course of the rising season, so remember to water the crops deeply each time the highest inch or two of soil feels dry. Throughout winter dormancy, cease watering solely.

A closeup, vertical image of an Aztec lily's red petals growing among shaded green leaves outdoors.
Picture by JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons, by way of CC BY-SA.

For each houseplants and outside specimens, month-to-month functions of a balanced fertilizer will assist to maximise blooms. And identical to with watering, stop fertilization throughout winter dormancy.

A vertical image of a white and purple bottle of Bonide's 10-10-10 liquid plant food against a white background.

Bonide Liquid Plant Meals

Indoor crops would do properly with Bonide’s 10-10-10 liquid plant meals, accessible by way of Walmart.

Southern Ag Granular Fertilizer

For outside specimens, do this granular 10-10-10 fertilizer from Southern Ag, accessible at Amazon.

Rising Ideas

  • Full solar is perfect, however partial shade works in very popular climates.
  • A impartial to barely alkaline soil pH is perfect.
  • In the course of the rising season, water each time the highest inch or two of soil feels dry.

Pruning and Upkeep

Because the plant prepares to go dormant in fall, its foliage will die again – remember to trim this off after it has turned brown and withered.

In the course of the rising season, take away any leaves that seem broken or diseased. You can even snip away flowers as they fade, in the event you’re not attempting to reap the seeds.

A horizontal close-up of a red Aztec lily bloom growing indoors.
Picture by LucaLuca, Wikimedia Commons, by way of CC BY-SA.

After about three to 4 years, your Aztec lily will probably begin to outgrow its container or planting web site. You’ll have to repot container-grown specimens and dig up and divide outdoor-grown clumps.

In-ground bulbs in USDA Zones 8 to 11 can stay buried for the winter. Cowl the soil with a few inches of mulch, they usually’ll be well-insulated throughout temperature dips.

Bulbs rising in climates colder than Zone 8 will have to be lifted as soon as the foliage dies again in fall, earlier than the primary frost.

Carry the bulbs by sticking a spade, trowel, or gardening fork into the bottom adjoining to the bulbs, then pushing the deal with all the way down to unearth the bulb and surrounding soil.

Get rid of any broken, mushy, discolored, or in any other case unhealthy-looking bulbs.

A horizontal image of a black plastic tub filled with brown and white plant bulbs. Stacked up in the background are similar bulb-filled boxes.

Clear the wholesome lifted bulbs, lower off any remaining stem tissue an inch above every bulb, and trim off any roots.

Place them on a newspaper-lined tray in a darkish, well-ventilated place with ambient temperatures of 60 to 70°F to treatment. Maintain them there for one to a few weeks till they’ve dried out.

Place the cured bulbs in paper or mesh baggies, then retailer them in a darkish, dry place at 40 to 50°F till it’s time to plant them once more the next spring.

The place to Purchase

As a not-too-common bulb, the Aztec lily could also be a bit tougher to search out than, say, a tulip or daffodil.

To start out, I’d suggest that you just browse plant retailers, on-line distributors, and catalogs specializing in decorative flowering bulbs.

A vertical image of a single Sprekelia formosissima flower growing indoors out of a terra cotta pot on a hardwood floor, all with white drywall in the background.
Picture by LucaLuca, Wikimedia Commons, by way of CC BY-SA.

In case you don’t discover any leads there, you possibly can all the time search for sellers specializing in southern crops, as S. formosissima is a southern gardening favourite.

Plant swaps and horticultural reveals are high-quality locations to look, too. And don’t overlook to ask your gardening associates for spare bulbs, offsets, or seeds!

You might come throughout ‘Oriental Crimson,’ a strong cultivar that blooms prolifically in the course of the rising season.

Managing Pests and Illness

For essentially the most half, you received’t have to fret about many pests and ailments. However there are undoubtedly some you need to be conscious of.

And don’t overlook – one of the best type of preventative plant well being care is cultivating your specimens correctly.


Let’s go over a few annoying pests that may injury your crops: mealybugs, and slugs and snails.


Lined with a white and mealy wax, mealybugs are small, segmented bugs that are likely to congregate in crevices, on leaf undersides, and at different inconspicuous, hard-to-spot areas on the plant.

Feeding with piercing-sucking mouthparts, these pests extract fluids from plant tissues, which may trigger chlorosis, stunted progress, dieback, and even plant demise.

Additionally they produce honeydew as they feed, which may appeal to ants and result in the formation of black sooty mould.

A horizontal image of a brown branch with a bunch of white-coated mealybugs growing on its underside.

Robust sprays of water can knock mealybugs off of crops, whereas sprays of horticultural oil can kill them.

Out within the panorama, pure enemies like parasitic wasps and ladybugs assist maintain mealybug populations down.

Infestations on houseplants are simply handled with dabs of a 70:30 answer of isopropyl alcohol and water, respectively.

A vertical image of a white spray bottle of Monterey's horticultural oil against a white background.

Monterey Horticultural Oil

Monterey sells read-to-spray and concentrated types of horticultural oil at Arbico Organics.

You may be taught extra about how one can handle mealybugs right here.

Slugs and Snails

Shelless or shelled, it issues not… each slugs and snails could be a actual ache.

Shifting round on a muscular, oozing “foot,” these mollusks use their rasping tongues to take irregularly-shaped, but smooth-edged feeding holes out of plant tissues, which actually saps a plant’s well being. Plus, they go away nasty slime trails of their wake.

In case your crops have a slug or snail downside, you possibly can exit at night time with a flashlight to choose them off crops by hand and get rid of them.

It additionally helps to weed your backyard, clear up plant detritus, and get rid of different spots the place slugs and snails can cover in the course of the day.

A close up square image of green plastic slug and snail traps set in the garden.

Slug and Snail Traps

Alternatively, these plastic beer traps from Gardener’s Provide Firm can do slug- and snail-catching for you.

Be taught extra about coping with slugs and snails in our information.


Pathogens simply hitch a experience in contaminated soils and on unsanitized backyard instruments, so be certain that to often sterilize your gardening instruments and use pathogen-free soils.

Narcissus Leaf Scorch

Attributable to the fungus Didymella curtisii, narcissus leaf scorch ends in reddish-brown scorching and recognizing on the leaves. Because the illness progresses, the foliage turns yellow and brown earlier than dying.

These signs additionally happen in flowers and on flower stalks, which is no bueno.

Surviving between bulb scales and in outdated leaf particles, the fungus spreads by way of fruiting our bodies, particularly in moist and humid circumstances.

Contaminated leaves and flowers must be eliminated ASAP, whereas severely contaminated specimens must be dug up and pitched.

To forestall this illness from the get-go, get rid of leaf detritus earlier than it accumulates, and all the time retailer bulbs at correct temperatures.

Root Rot

Whether or not attributable to pathogens or purely an abiotic problem, root rot begins when crops sit in oversaturated soils.

When roots are disadvantaged of oxygen for too lengthy, they basically suffocate, change into necrotic, and die. In consequence, the bulb doesn’t obtain the nourishment it wants and rots, and the shoots above the soil line wilt and die again.

To forestall root rot, not overwatering is important… and to alleviate root rot, you could cease overwatering, ASAP.

To assist out a severely root-rotted plant, dig it up and take away any necrotic roots. If greater than half of the roots and/or greater than half of the bulb is rotted, then the specimen might be toast.

Greatest Makes use of for Aztec Lilies

A fiery-hot magnificence just like the Aztec lily has many aesthetic functions. 

It dazzles wherever a fairly flower is required, nevertheless it’s particularly superior as an in-ground floral show, a border planting, a container specimen, and an addition to rock or alpine gardens.

And though it’ll undergo a quick dormancy interval, it’s additionally a stunner as an indoor houseplant.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Kind: Herbaceous perennial bulb Flower/Foliage Shade: Crimson, pink/inexperienced
Native to: Guatemala, Mexico Upkeep: Average
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 8-11 Tolerance: Deer, warmth, partial shade (scorching climates), salt (average)
Bloom Time/Season: Spring-summer Soil Kind: Wealthy, sandy loam
Publicity: Full solar Soil pH: 7.0-7.8
Time to Maturity: 3-7 years (from seed) Soil Drainage: Nicely-draining
Spacing: 8-12 inches (open air), 4 inches (containers) Attracts: Butterflies, hummingbirds
Planting Depth: 2-4 inches Makes use of: Alpine backyard, containers, greenhouse planting, houseplant, rock backyard
Top: 8-12 inches Order: Asparagales
Unfold: 8-12 inches Household: Amaryllidaceae
Water Wants: Average Genus: Sprekelia
Widespread Pests and Illnesses: Mealybugs, slugs and snails; narcissus leaf scorch, root rot Species: Formosissima

Don’t Be Foolish… Develop Some Aztec Lily!

You probably have the chance to develop S. formosissima, you undoubtedly ought to. Carpe diem, because the go-getting Romans had been fond of claiming!

A horizontal closeup of a trio of crimson Aztec lily flowers growing in front of various garden plants outdoors.

With some Aztec lilies within the backyard, your panorama will look completely beautiful! Similar factor goes on your dwelling, in the event you go the indoor container route.

Are you rising Aztec lilies? Nonetheless have questions, or maybe tidbits of your individual to share? Head on all the way down to the feedback part beneath!

And for extra details about rising flowers from the Amaryllidaceae household, attempt these guides on for dimension subsequent:

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