Sur-PRISE Lily Gifts

Bluebird Gardens surprise lilies in bloom August 2016.

Sur-PRISELily Gifts

If you need a less than ordinary gift from the garden, try surprise lilies. These North American cousins to the traditional holiday flowering gift Amaryllis bloom mid-July through August and have a colorful arsenal of names - glory lilies, resurrection lilies and the more provocative naked ladies.

Bulbs are planted in fall so they can get established through winter. Once spring starts to unfold, the long, rounded leaves sprout out of the ground to collect energy in the bulbs.

 Surprise lily leaves appear in spring, then die back until the flowers bloom mid-July.

Surprise lily leaves appear in spring, then die back until the flowers bloom mid-July.

About mid-July, the flower buds pop out of the ground without any greenery around them.

 Surprise lily buds pop out of the ground mid-July without any greenery around them.

Surprise lily buds pop out of the ground mid-July without any greenery around them.

Within days, the flower stalks are 2-3 feet tall with unfolding buds at the top. Some stalks have only a couple of flowers, others may have several.

 My surprise lily bulbs blooming into stalks with several buds per stalk.

My surprise lily bulbs blooming into stalks with several buds per stalk.

My surprise lilies bloom in waves, starting mid-July through early September. The ones southwest bloom first. The bulbs on the north side of the house bloom last, giving me almost a one month blooming season.

 Cut surprise lilies make lovely scented gifts. Select tall bases to better display their long stalks.

Cut surprise lilies make lovely scented gifts. Select tall bases to better display their long stalks.

To give as gifts, place a small bouquet with long stems in a flower vase with water. Add a card explaining what they are. "Enjoy these naked ladies" always gets a response.

 I dried surprise lilies from a neighbor's yard and share bags with gardening friends.

I dried surprise lilies from a neighbor's yard and share bags with gardening friends.

You can also dry surprise lily bulbs once they have finished blooming and stalks turn yellow. Once dry, store in a cool place until you can either gift them or plant them in the ground.

 Most garden centers offer the bulbs for sale in the fall along with other spring-flowering bulbs.

Charlotte