Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Schoolhouse is Open

Just about the time you hear the class bells ring signaling that the schoolhouse is open, look for a lovely little lily to begin opening, as well.

Rhodophiala bifida is also known as the Schoolhouse Lily 
because the timing of its bloom coincides with the start of the school year.

This small amaryllis look-alike blooms atop one-foot stems.  Flowering is triggered by rains in late summer or early fall.  Strap-like foliage emerges after the blooms fade and remains all winter.  The foliage then dies down as the heat kicks up the following summer or late spring (April/May).

If your clump of lilies needs dividing, this April/May time frame is the best time to divide and transplant.   Plant the bulbs at a depth 2 to 3 times the height of the bulb.   Summer shade is okay, but Schoolhouse Lilies need full winter sun, so a great place to plant them is at the edge of the canopy of deciduous trees. They are hardy in Zones 7-10.

The deep blood red color of the blooms is how they received their other common name, Oxblood Lily.   I also have a pink variety, but unfortunately I missed the opportunity to get a picture this year.

I like to plant them among 'Katie's' Ruellia (Dwarf Mexican Petunia).   Even though the Oxblood Lilies are short, they are tall enough to rise above the Ruellia.  And when the Ruellia dies down after a hard freeze, the evergreen foliage of the Oxblood Lily remains.

You won't have to hit the books and study hard to grow this little lily.  Just pop it in the ground and forget about it.    If you're looking for an easy bulb to brighten your late summer garden, this one makes the grade.  In fact, I think I'd give it an A+.

Toni :-)


  1. It does look like an amaryllis. They are a pretty lily.

  2. Sounds like a similar growth pattern to Lycoris, with different timing. Lovely! Happy autumn!

  3. I love these lilies but I'm not sure how hardy they'd be here. I love how bright they are.

  4. An A+ for being easy bulb? Although I've never heard of the Schoolhouse lily before, it sounds like I need to add some of these to my garden!