Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Aztec Lily, Jacobean Lily
Sprekelia formosissima

Family: Amaryllidaceae (am-uh-ril-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sprekelia (sprek-EL-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: formosissima (for-mo-SIS-ee-muh) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

29 members have or want this plant for trade.


Unknown - Tell us

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 26 photos.
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13 positives
3 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive ricrac On Aug 27, 2014, ricrac from Kirkland, WA wrote:

I planted a few bulbs in a round bowl style planter on a rail on a southwest facing deck a number of years ago.
I pretty much just left them alone. Each year I'd get a few more blooms. Living in Western WA, they got plenty of water even during their dormant periods... They came back and bloomed more every year until.... I thought they'd gotten too crowded and decided I should thin & replant.. .......that was the last I saw of them. Of course, being an ignorant gardener at the time. I probably did everything wrong. So glad I stumbled upon some this yr.- am ordering a couple and will try again in the same planter, in the same location. I'll just plant this fall, add a little bulb/bone meal and leave alone.

Positive FlowerGem1 On May 27, 2014, FlowerGem1 from San Francisco, CA wrote:

I planted one bulb last year in a pot and put it on a sunny deck, and I was rewarded with one lovely flower in the spring. This year I have many more leaves, one gorgeous flower blooming now, and another flower bud coming up near it (in the month of May). I think I will buy a few more Sprekelia bulbs in the fall. The flowers don't last for more than a couple of days, but they are stunningly beautiful when they are in bloom. My one bulb has multiplyed a lot in just one year. I live in a very windy part of San Francisco, and the flower is holding up nicely even in the strong wind. This year I was pleasantly surprised to have this bulb also produce a beautiful bloom in late September. I must be doing something right- I love this plant!

Positive SEAZ On Apr 25, 2014, SEAZ from Sierra Vista Southeast, AZ wrote:

Great and easy bulb for high elevations in SE Arizona (5,200). It has been down to 0F here and the bulbs had no problem. Every winter low 20s are common. Some aztec lily bulbs are planted away from watering sources. They stay dormant until they bloom about June and then leaf out with the summer monsoon. Plants around the house that are watered once a week start blooming in March when max min temps are 70F and 40F. Too much water and too much shade result in leaves but no flowers. Hand pollinate between flowers and you will get seed set.

Neutral pbtxlady On May 13, 2013, pbtxlady from Garland, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I planted two of these bulbs, at different times, from different vendors. One has been in the ground 4 years, seems happy, has multiplied, and never bloomed. I've had the second in the ground for 2 years, and finally got a flower this year. It's beautiful and I have to say it was worth the wait. I'm giving it a neutral, though, because of the one that has never bloomed at all. The description above says hardy to 8b, but I'm in 8a and neither of mine have ever been bothered by cold.

Positive vossner On Apr 26, 2011, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I had planted this plant in 2 different locations and had never seen a bloom. The third time it was planted in a very dry area of my garden and within the same season it has bloomed for me.

Positive tropicdude On Apr 7, 2011, tropicdude from Aledo, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I received a single large bulb and put it in a pot. It already had a bud when I received it and the flower was beautiful. I then planted it in the ground in an area with afternoon sun. It has just poked a few leaves out of the ground (early April). It came up even with our unusually abundant snowfall(. 6-12 inches) and 12 degree temperatures. Hoping it blooms soon!

Positive MissyWI On Oct 2, 2010, MissyWI from Madison, WI wrote:

I can't imagine that there are problems out there growing this. I've found it to be one of the easiest bulbs to nurture of all.
Here in Wisconsin, they go into the pots, and then outside, in mid to late May; a mixture of compost, Fert-i-lome, and chicken grit, with pea gravel on the bottom of the pot. I also put pea gravel in the saucer.
A month later? Bam! And every other year or so, there's a rebloom.

Morning shade, afternoon sun; that's just the way it is.
Rain-barrel water to keep them from drying out. Otherwise, average moistness. (The pea gravel in the saucer keeps you from having to dump them out when you receive too much rain too frequently.)
After bloom, deadhead. Most importantly,- keep the foliage healthy, until frost. Then chop it off, de-pot, clean off the soil without damaging the bulb coat, and dry for a few days. Then,- into the peat moss until May. (My basement storage area is 60-65 degrees.)

I save the 'division' of the bulbs until ready to plant, preventing points for disease to enter. Usually, one bulb in May will yield at least two in September. Hence, they make great gifts and offerings, accompanied by the info above.They bloom in pots all along my block, as a result.

In Wisconsin.

Negative ARIF On Jul 8, 2010, ARIF from LAHORE
Pakistan wrote:

I have some for over a decade. I have planted them in containers, in garden beds,in shade, in semi shade, in diferent medias, but have failed to get a bloom.
Our sommers are hot 46C winters mild, 1C.
Any advice

Positive thmpr On Jul 5, 2010, thmpr from Eureka, CA wrote:

This past spring, I planted three Sprekelia formosissima bulbs in a pot for my container garden. They immediately started producing flowers before they had grown any leaves, with full-sized flowers on very short stems.
After briefly enjoying the flowers, I removed them so the plants could focus on leaf & root production instead. Since leafing out, two of the three bulbs have formed double crowns, & a fourth "mystery crown" has sprouted as well.
For a while I was worried that they were not producing enough leaves, & that the leaves were not large enough, but after viewing other pictures of Sprekelia formosissima in the PlantFiles gallery, I realized the they are healthy and happy. I look forward to their next flowering.

Positive marasri On May 23, 2010, marasri from Dripping Springs, TX wrote:

I love this plant so I am willing to do the extra for it. Most of that has been head scratching. I read that it likes growing under oaks in Northern Mexico so I planted it under a small oak with eastern sunlight in Central Texas. It bloomed nicely for three years, sometimes twice a year and then stopped. Two years no bloom. I read they like slightly acidic soil. I have definitely alkaline. I read they like full sun but afternoon shade where hot (TEXAS). So I realized that I needed to move it since a bush had grown up and definitely made it a shady spot. I also read they do not like being moved so I gave it a lack of expectation for a couple of years. I did move it, added some ground sulfur and compost and now 2 more years later I have 6 looms. I think I fertilized it with some bulb stuff like bone meal also and gave some fish juice this spring.

Negative ceejaytown On Apr 12, 2010, ceejaytown from The Woodlands, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I can't remember how long I've had this plant. I brought it from a former house to this house, and I've lived here 13 years now. It has multiplied nicely, but it has never bloomed. Because it has multiplied, I have it located in several places in my garden, hoping one of them would be the right spot, but alas, still no blooms. Each year I threaten it with extinction, and each year I spare it and hope once more that it will show its colors. It defies me!

Positive ritkitt On Aug 10, 2009, ritkitt from Orange, TX wrote:

I found and bought one bulb about ten or twelve years ago, and waited patiently for the first bloom. It has multiplied very well! I now have approximately thirty bulbs, and one of them finally bloomed for me. Not knowing anything about the origin or care of them, I now believe I watered them too often.

Neutral htop On Dec 26, 2007, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant. Aztec Lily, Jacobean Lily (Sprekelia formosissima) is native to Mexico and Guatemala with its natural habitat being rocky hillsides. The 20 inch (50 cm) long leaves come out in spring about the same time as the about 5 inch (13 cm) the flower. The flower, which is bilaterally symmetrical like an orchid, stands about 12 in (30 cm) above ground. Even under optimal conditions, bulbs often don't bloom every year. In a grouping of 12 or so bulbs, only 2 or 3 may bloom in any given year. If the bulbs are disturbed, no blooms may occur for several years.

It needs to be dry when dormant (stop watering when the leaves begin to die back); however, povide some water during periods of new growth (start watering when the leaves and the bloom stem start to emerge) and when blooming. Offset bulblets can be separated and replanted in August with the neck and shoulders being just above ground level. In locations that have only light frosts, they should be protected with a heavy mulch. In colder regions, the bulbs should be dug up in the late fall and stored in a dry and frost free location. It is a great plant to use in rock gardens, makes an excellent container plant and can be grown as a houseplant. The most common reasons for bulb failure is over-watering when the bulb is dormant and the bulb being in poor draining soil which causes the bulb to rot. Aztec Lily is supposed to be deer and rodent resistant.

Thad Howard discovered a variation of the Aztec Lily growing in a garden in San Antonio, Texas that he called 'Orient Red'( also known as also known as 'Harrison's Orientred'. It was blooming in autumn. He bought 12 or so for a nickel apiece and began growing them. 'Orient Red' blooms reliably each year; whereas, many clones in cultivation do not and is much more floriferous than the typical selections. In San Antonio, it blooms in late spring, summer and fall. It loves a hot exposure and blooms in response to thunderstorms similar to the rain lily. The fall blooms have white stripes on the keel of the petal.

Positive tinmiami On Jul 3, 2006, tinmiami from Miami, FL wrote:

I received a bulb for this lovely lily and left it in the bag for a long time. Then I planted it on a Sunday and had a flower on Thursday!! Yes only a few days! I could not believe it. In another week I had yet another flower. I am a very inexperienced gardner and can only guess that the time it spent in a plastic bag (in severe humidity!) had something to do with the incredibly quick blooming it underwent. Can anyone tell me about the process? or is it because I am in zone 10b and it blooms better in this severe heat and humidity?

Positive TheTomato On May 17, 2006, TheTomato from Lincoln, NE (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have this plant in my border garden, and this is my first year planting it. I was getting discouraged because it was seeming to take an unusually long time to get any sort of sprout (compared to other plants I am more familiar with), but then suddenly, after I had literally forgotten about it and moved on (almost 2 months after planting), a shoot came out of nowhere. The plant is very slow to germinate, but once it does it takes off- 6 inches in a few days for me. Compliments the tigridia and bearded irises surrounding it very nicely.

Positive joltnbolt On May 19, 2005, joltnbolt from Washington, DC wrote:

This plant is very easy to grow and has nice clean foliage. Each bulb will produce at least one if not more flowers in the spring and fall.

Positive WWGG49 On May 11, 2004, WWGG49 from Santa Maria, CA wrote:

A friend of mine has this beautiful flower growing in her garden in Arroyo Grande CA. The house is at least 75 years old and has always had Jacobean Lilies which seemed to have naturalized there.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 24, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

In Zones 9-10, plant in fall. In colder areas plant in spring. Choose a site with full sun and fast-draining, organic, sandy, slightly acid soil. Space bulbs 8-12" apart and 4" deep. In cold areas, let the bulbs go dry after they flower. Dig and store the bulbs in sand or peat moss in a cool location for the winter. Hardy in Zones 9-10.
Indoor Culture - Plant 1 bulb in a 6" pot with the neck of the bulb above the surface of the soil. Keep lightly moist. Give the plant at least 4 hours of sunlight a day. Feed monthly with 5-10-5 fertilizer. Rest the bulb from October to February. Repot every 3-4 years.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Clarksville, Arkansas
Albany, California
El Cajon, California
Encinitas, California
Eureka, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Mission Viejo, California
Modesto, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
San Marino, California
Sonoma, California
Vista, California
Washington, District Of Columbia
Boca Raton, Florida
Inverness, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Miami, Florida
Naples, Florida
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Braselton, Georgia
Jesup, Georgia
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baltimore, Maryland
Lincoln, Nebraska
Roswell, New Mexico
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Morganton, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina (2 reports)
Trinity, North Carolina
Clatskanie, Oregon
Dallas, Oregon
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Aledo, Texas
Austin, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Fulton, Texas
Garland, Texas
Houston, Texas
Liberty, Texas
Orange, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Spring, Texas
Kirkland, Washington

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