Skip to main content
Rainlily

Fact sheet: Rainlily

What is a rainlily?

Rainlily refers to any of about 70 species of Zephyranthes and Habranthus, all of which are flowering bulbs that share common names of rainlily, fairy lily, rainflower and zephyrlily.

These small bulbs earned the name “rainlily” because they often flower within a few days after rainfall. From spring through fall, rainlily can produce flushes of star-shaped, crocus-like flowers that are white, pink or yellow, depending on the species. Flowers of some new hybrids are in shades of peach, orange and red, and some have multicolored flowers in striped or picotee patterns. Rainlily’s easy care, broad adaptability and beautiful, starry flowers make it ideal for gardens in Florida!

Rainlily flowers in spring, summer or fall, depending on species and garden conditions. Each six-petalled, funnel-shaped flower is perched at the top of a stem that ranges in height from 2 inches to more than 12 inches. Zephyranthes spp. have a single, upward-facing or slightly nodding flower on each stem, whereas Habranthus spp. flowers are held at an angle and occur in groups of two or three per stem. Each flower lasts just a day or two, depending on sunlight and temperature, but typically new flowers continually develop for several days, creating flushes of flowering. Rainlily flowers best when triggered by rainfall. Irrigation can stimulate flowering, but not to the extent of rainfall.

Rainlily bulbs produce clumps of narrow, grass-like leaves that range in length from a few inches to as long as 14 inches. In the wild, rainlily bulbs adapt to seasonal dry weather by losing leaves until rainfall resumes. In the garden, soil moisture usually is sufficient for most species to retain their leaves throughout much of the year. Most rainlily species are hardy in US Department of Agriculture Zones 7–11, an area that includes all of Florida and most of the rest of the southeastern United States (http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html). However, even in these zones, rainlily leaves may die back after a hard freeze or during extended drought.

Fact sheet: Rainlily

Planted in Nassau County Extension Demonstration Garden

Sold at Nassau County Master Gardener Plant Sale