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



Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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


New Market, Alabama

Alma, Arkansas

Bay, Arkansas

Maumelle, Arkansas

Morrilton, Arkansas

Pottsville, 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

Morgan City, Louisiana

New Iberia, Louisiana

Plain Dealing, Louisiana

Sulphur, Louisiana

Jackson, Mississippi

Moss Point, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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. The foliage is deciduous, and it may go dormant in early summer, especially if the soil isn't continuously moist. That doesn't stop it from flowering without the leaves, like a surprise lily (Lycoris).

It also tolerates woodland shade.

Many populations have been lost to habitat destruction and wild collecting, and... read more


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?


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.


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 c... read more


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.


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.


On Jan 7, 2004, ahaiad wrote:

Incredible picture!!!!!!
Very nice.


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 th... read more


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.


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.