About twenty species of deciduous bulbous plants belong to the genus zephytanthes, all native to the American continent. There are spring, summer and autumn flowering zephyranthes, although generally in the gardens it is preferred to cultivate the species with summer or autumn flowering. In their places of origin they are called rain lilies, since they generally remain dormant during the cold or hot season, and as soon as the spring or autumn rains appear, zephyranthes they begin to produce abundant leaves and flowers.
The foliage is similar to long, arched, slightly fleshy, dark green blades of grass, gathered in dense clumps. From the foliage for a few weeks, long trumpet-like flowers rise, single, with six petals of white, pink, yellow or orange color, often with a throat in a contrasting color. The flowers are followed by small fleshy capsules containing the seeds. All the species are of medium or small size, and generally do not exceed 20-30 cm in height; during the vegetative rest season they lose the aerial part, and therefore the foliage dries up completely.
The plants of Zephyranthes are planted by burying the bulbs about half of their diameter, at a distance of about 15-20 cm from each other; it is advisable to choose a bright location, in direct sun or even in partial shade.
They are plants that are not afraid of even prolonged frosts, if slight: to prevent the bulbs from being damaged by the cold, it is advisable to mulch the ground with dry leaves, or straw, or unearth the bulbs in dormancy, to place them at the end of the winter.
As far as water and watering are concerned, these plants tolerate drought without problems, and it is advisable to avoid over-watering them; Generally they are satisfied with the rains, presenting a period of complete vegetative rest during periods of drought. Always remember not to overdo the quantities of water trying not to drown the plants and above all avoiding leaving the soil soaked for several days. Prolonged humidity could in fact give rise to root molds and other health problems at the root level.
To cultivate the zephyranthes it is advisable to use a rich, soft and loose soil, possibly very well drained and slightly acidic. Bulbs grown in pots should be dug up every year and planted in fresh, rich soil.
To allow for greater flowering, it is advisable to fertilize the plants once a month with products rich in potassium.
The multiplication of these bulbs can take place by seed, in spring, but it is also possible to detach the small bulbs that are naturally produced over the years, and plant them well spaced from the other bulbs. The bulbils, the smallest bulbs, usually grow around the main bulb.
Parasites and diseases
In conditions of high humidity and poor ventilation they are affected by bulb rot and sometimes gray mold. However, these are plants that are not frequently affected by diseases and parasites.
Zephyranthes: Variety of Zephyrantes
There are several varieties of Zephyrantes that are used as ornamental.
Zephyrantes candida is a very beautiful bulbous that comes from South America and forms 30 cm low bushes with narrow and elongated leaves. The flower of this species is very beautiful with white petals accompanied by very evident golden-yellow stamens.
It is a perfect plant for gardens, pots and flower beds, which needs to grow in a temperate environment and suffers a lot from night frosts. If we live in areas with a cold winter, let's remember to bring the plants of Zephyrantes Candida to a warm and bright area of the house, to prevent the winter cold from damaging our bulbs.