Rain Lilies and Cyclamen

What a Summertime Downpour Can Do

June was a good month for rain, if you like it all at once. All but a fraction of our rain came in two days, followed by fryingly hot weeks of no rain at all. Near the first of the month we had a day of practically non-stop rain, with four+ inches recorded here (Birmingham had an all time record of seven+ inches that same day). Then we had two weeks without rain. Then one night after a day where every storm missed us by just a few miles, the rain came all at once, with .7″ in the space of thirty minutes or so.

Some sleepers awoke after that. Here are two who had a good drink at the same time–a Rain Lily and some Cyclamen. Both are my kind of bulbs, in that you plant them and then forget about them. No fertilizer needed, no irrigation needed. Just act surprised when they finally bloom.

Rain Lilies, members of the species Zephyranthes that bloom after a drenching, are all plants from the Americas. The pink variety is a native of Cuba, and thus benefits from a hurricane or two every summer, which as well benefits from our increasingly sub-tropical climate (nine months out of the year). We also grow the Southern native Atamasco Lily, a spring blooming plant that will naturalize in most areas of the South.

The Eurasian hardy Cyclamen is a whole other story. I planted the two most common species, along with some very fancy cultivars, beginning some twenty years ago, and they have surrounded two sides of our house. Technically they grow from plate-like corms, instead of scaly bulbs, and they grow larger and larger for upwards of a hundred years. In fact, just to the left of the pictured bloom, you can see the black surface of the corm, which appears to be at least eight inches wide. Their green leaves in the winter are an added benefit to the unexpected outbursts of blooms.

Another drenching is finally headed our way today, and besides the rain and cooler air, I have to guess what, when, and where, the next blooms will be.

Author: southernfusionfood

Writer, Woodworker, and Happy Eater

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