Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Water Spider Lily, Carolina Spider Lily
Hymenocallis caroliniana

Family: Amaryllidaceae (am-uh-ril-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hymenocallis (hy-men-oh-KAL-is) (Info)
Species: caroliniana (kair-oh-lin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Hymenocallis rotata
Synonym:Hymenocallis occidentalis

One vendor has this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
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:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

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:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

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By sa_haiad
Thumbnail #1 of Hymenocallis caroliniana by sa_haiad

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By tiG
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By sa_haiad
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By Jeff_Beck
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There are a total of 22 photos.
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7 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Jan 28, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The beautiful fragrant white flowers look quite exotic, like something from a Star Trek set.

The southeastern US is home to about 15 species of Hymenocallis, and even the experts have difficulty telling them apart. This one is the hardiest, its native range extending from the gulf coast north to southern MO, IL, and IN. It's hardy into Z5, and though it's a wet-soil plant in nature, it's fairly tolerant of ordinary moist garden soil. It also tolerates woodland shade.

Many populations have been lost to habitat destruction and wild collecting, and this has become a rare plant in the wild through almost all its original range. Like other rare native plants, these should never be dug up for transplanting to a home garden. Nursery-propagated plants are available.

Positive forgottenfl On Mar 26, 2011, forgottenfl from Crawfordville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I purchased this plant about 10 yrs ago at a local nursery and planted it in a shaded woodland garden in our hardwood hammock. The plant has done well and the soil is typically dry. The bloom period is short, but well worth the enjoyment each summer.

I've experienced spreading of the plant which I believe to be a combination of the plant multiplying and also seeding (since some of the new plants are around 3-4 ft away. The original plant seems clumped and may be getting crowded. I wanted to know if anyone has had to separate the plant to thin it and if they had success doing so?

Positive nick89 On May 6, 2005, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This spider lily is native to north Alabama where it is mainly found along stream banks. It can be locally common in suitable habitats. In dry summers the leaves wither up and die, the flowers appearing without the leaves (kind of like a magic lily) when the rain returns. Very easy to cultivate but it will only retain the leaves in the summer if well watered.

Positive Dan_Brown On May 19, 2004, Dan_Brown from Elm Grove, LA wrote:

Although this lovely plant grows native around NW Louisiana where I live, mostly submerged in water, I have 2 patches from bulbs that I have dug up from the wild planted in my yard. One patch is under the run off of the roof of my mobile home and the other in in a flowerbed where it gets no excessive amount of water. I thinks the bulbs have divided in the years I have had them. Once I forgot some of the green, bean looking things that form after the flowers fall, at the junction of the flowers and the stem in a babyfood jar in my closet for about a year, and then noticed they had formed roots about 1/2 in. long. I have set these out in a place I can watch, but so far nothing has emergered from the ground. Does anyone know about propagating this kind of seed, bulbil, or whatever you would call it? The bulbs I dug took two years to bloom as I dug them while in bloom, but now are faithful to blossom and I dearly love them as cut flowers as the fragrance is hypnotic indeed. These things are quite common in the rural area where I live, even many clumps on my drive to church in a cowpasture on a steep hill. I am thinking of digging some more from roadside ditches when the foliage dies back this Autumn.

Important note!!!!:(added 6/15/04)
I have recently made an important proagation discovery with this lovely, unique and lovely smelling plant. I had a clue several years ago but missed the point entirely. We all know that this plant can be passed on by digging up and dividing the large bulbs that multiply, but recently I discovered another method. Collect the green colored beans that form on the base of the flowers the minute the blooms fade and store them dry, in an open container (like an unsealed envelope) in a DARK place until a white root begins to show on the side of this seed(?). (about 6 weeks) The green colored bean looking dealies can then be planted about an 3/4 inch deep in fertile soil in a place that can receive plenty of water, and they will sprout and green will show above ground in a few weeks. I don't know how long it will take to produce a bulb, but I have successfully raised some 4 inch plants with this method and some of the beans I used were 2 years old and some were from this years blooms. The seeds (?) I had stored in a babyfood jar from 2 years ago in my closet sprouted roots that were almost an inch long and I planted these and they came up as well as some that were 6 weeks old from this years crop. Everyone of them came up with tiny sword shaped leaves, I believe. I will pass on the info about how long it takes to form true bulbs and blooms at a later date.
Blessed, Dan Brown, Elm Grove, LA

Positive desertboot On Apr 24, 2004, desertboot from Bangalore
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

We once had a whole bank of them growing along a terracotta-red brick wall. A marvellous sight, until a certain over-boisterous Retrievers decided to dig them all up one fine summer! Very little could be "retrieved" of the lilies thereafter, and we haven't been able to replace them since; they seem to be a rarity here. Looking at the photographs now makes me nostalgic for the fragrance.

Positive Tiarella On Mar 19, 2004, Tiarella from Tunnel Hill, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Does well in average garden soil and is quite striking in the middle of summer when not much is blooming in my garden. Prefers moist soil, and does well in moderate shade.

Pretty easy from seed. I stratified the green, olive-looking seed in damp peat in the fridge, and planted in the spring and had a pretty good rate of germination. I imagine they would also do well planted fresh.

Positive ahaiad On Jan 7, 2004, ahaiad wrote:

Incredible picture!!!!!!
Very nice.

Neutral sa_haiad On Jan 6, 2004, sa_haiad from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil wrote:

This species of spider lily is a Missouri native bulbous perennial which occurs in swamps and moist woods in the Mississippi lowlands area in the far southeastern corner of the State. It looks like a spidery daffodil with extremely narrow perianth (petal-like) segments. Features a basal clump of up to twelve (12) linear, strap-shaped, amaryllis-like leaves (each to 17 long) growing directly from a bulb. In summer, from the center of the foliage rises a solid scape to 22 which is topped by an umbel
of 5-10 fragrant, white, spidery flowers (to 6 across). Each flower has six (6) extremely narrow, outward-spreading-to-reflexed perianth segments and a daffodil-like staminal center cup (corona). Flowers are followed by
oval to spherical seed capsules. These plants are rare in the wild and should never be dug up for transplanting to a home garden. Synonymous with and sometimes sold as Hymenocallis occidentalis.

Positive lumadue On Oct 5, 2002, lumadue wrote:

I was given a bulb from a friend in May 2002. I was told it was a red Amaryllis. Imagine my surprise when it bloomed in August with white blooms, unlike an Amaryllis! I researched the flower and comparing pictures I took with ones I found on your web site, I believe I have a Spider Lily. I live in the Ormond Lakes neighborhood in Ormond Beach, Florida. My lily bloomed in my side yard in sandy soil. The only negative comment that I have about this beautiful plant is that it's VERY attractive to the Lubber Grasshopper.

Neutral tiG On Sep 6, 2001, tiG from Newnan, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

The Spider Lily is a bulbous plant of the Amaryllis family. This native likes light shade to sun and very well-drained soil.

Hymenocallis caroliniana is herbaceous to semi-evergreen, depending on the severity of the winter season. It is mostly summer-blooming; fertilize regularly during the blooming season.

Plant with tips of bulbs just beneath the ground or pot with the tips just above the surface.


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

New Market, Alabama
Alma, Arkansas
Bay, Arkansas
Maumelle, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Bartow, Florida
Bushnell, Florida
Crawfordville, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lake City, Florida
Niceville, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Venice, Florida
Youngstown, Florida
Cordele, Georgia
Cornelia, Georgia
Tunnel Hill, Georgia
Paoli, Indiana
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
Elm Grove, Louisiana
Folsom, Louisiana
New Iberia, Louisiana
Plain Dealing, Louisiana
Sulphur, Louisiana
Jackson, Mississippi
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Rowland, North Carolina
Sanford, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Toa Alta, Puerto Rico
Beaufort, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (2 reports)
Lexington, South Carolina
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Dickson, Tennessee
La Follette, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Boerne, Texas
Canyon Lake, Texas
Houston, Texas
La Porte, Texas
Lampasas, Texas
Longview, Texas

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