Appalachia Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Ghost Lilies or Naked Ladies


After reading my September Charm post earlier this week Jim Casada sent me the following email:

“Tipper—Today’s blog touched me on multiple fronts. First of all, I absolutely love the name September charm. Secondly, it’s a flower with which I’m unfamiliar.

Most of all, I loved your usage of the word “start” to describe how you got the plant. I hadn’t heard it used that way in years, and of course there are a whole bunch of synonyms such as slip and cutting.

I also have a question for you and/or your readers if you have a way to show the attached photo. It is a bloom of what Daddy called “ghost lilies” but I know there’s another, more common name. The bloom stalk just suddenly appears this time of year and the foliage follows after the bloom, lives through the winter, then disappears in warm weather only to return the following fall. The bloom comes from bulbs which look much like those of daffodils.”


I have a few of the flowers Jim spoke of growing in my flower bed. I used to have more, but over the years they have dwindled to only a handful. I’ve always heard them called naked ladies. Are you familiar with the flower? If so what name do you know it by?


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  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 6, 2018 at 2:44 am

    My mother and grandmother always called this surprise lilies….the green leaves came up in the spring….eventually die back and then late in the summer jump up on long stems with beautiful blooms…We had red and pink ones…
    Thanks for this post today…

  • Reply
    October 2, 2018 at 12:09 am

    My dad planted Naked Ladies all around the inside of the yard fence. When they’d bloom, he’d call friends and tell them,
    “My yard is full of naked ladies!” He always got a laugh out of this. When he died, it was in August and his naked ladies were in bloom. We mentioned them and their story to the pastor that was going to do the funeral.
    He included the story in the service….you could almost hear my dad laughing along with everyone.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Not familiar with the flower, but I sure use the term “starts” the same way Tipper did 🙂

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Speaking of a ghost, I was outside mowing today. When I came back in and went to the kitchen sink there was a paint brush laying in left side. I am the only person here anymore and I had washed last night’s dishes there before I went to mow. It wasn’t a paintbrush like you paint walls with, it was an artists brush. I think the brush I found is one of my 7 year old grandson’s that he paints with when he is here. He ain’t been here in a week. I’m not really worried but it does have me spooked a little.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    September 29, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    We called these Spider Lilies. My mother had them when I was growing up. I googled and found Naked Ladies are of the Amaryllis family and these are Red Lycoris Radiata also | Surprise Lily ,| Magic Lily,| Red Spider Lily. Surprise is a good name because they would come up when almost all other flowers were gone.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Pretty flower, so neat to learn about.

  • Reply
    Ruth Binder
    September 29, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Here in Ohio they are known as ‘Resurrection Lilies’ or Naked Ladies. And yes, they come up as a flower first, which fades off, and then the stem comes up ‘naked’.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    September 29, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Yes, I think these are called spider lilies. In our area, naked ladies shoot up thru the ground in july. Their flower looks different than this. Their green leaves sprout up in spring and look a little like daffodil leaves, then disappear until the flower stem suddenly appears in july.

  • Reply
    Janine Clagg
    September 29, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    I’m from Louisiana and have always known them as Spider Lilies! One of my favorite Fall flowers!

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Like your September Charm anemones, “Naked Lady” lilies are beautiful. I wonder if both would grow in central Texas – that would be wonderful.

  • Reply
    Kay paul
    September 29, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    We call them Spider and Hurricane Lillies down here in south Alabama.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    September 29, 2018 at 10:48 am

    We have a similar plant we always called surprise or magic lilies. They come up in mid summer on a single stalk with no leaves. They are a beautiful pink. last a week or two and return the next yr.

  • Reply
    Lisa Lee
    September 29, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Our family knew these glorious flowers as Spider Lilies, but I’ve heard Surprise lilies as well. At my grandmother’s house, they would appear out of nowhere once the weather got hot- mid June-July and last for 6-8 weeks. We truly never knew where they would pop up next. From an original few bulbs given to my grandmother by a friend, over 40+ years these beauties have spread themselves over her flower beds, out into the yard, up between thick layers of English Ivy beside the driveway and scattered around a 1 acre grove next to the house. I have photos but can’t figure out how to attach them. One part of the surprise came because we never split, replanted or moved the small bulbs, except to share with friends and laughingly warn that the flowers would eventually take over their yard. The flowers shot up once the weather got hot- Mid June-July, and bloom for 6-8 weeks. They attracted butterflies too. As the petals began to drop, the stem would sprout fat, round blue-black berries, and those soon fell off onto the ground. We came to the decision that the birds or squirrels must carry them off into a different part of the property. I wish we still owned the house, I would gladly share with anyone!
    I think our growing season is different because of location in North Georgia and the weather warms up earlier than in your area. We lived about 15 miles from Amicalola Falls State Park, on top of which is the true beginning of the Appalachian Trail, not at the formal trailhead on Springer Mountian near Ellijay, Ga. If you’ve never been it’s a lovely State Park- treat yourself to a visit and drive up to the top for a breathtaking view. I prefer spring or summer when the forest is thick with green leaves, much too stark and bare for me in the winter. I think it’s the tallest waterfall in Ga.
    Sure enjoy these posts. I’m 67 and was blessed to grow up hearing similar sayings from older relatives. Thanks .

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 29, 2018 at 9:55 am

    They are beautiful. We have a lily here that only blooms after a rain. <uch prized by botanists as there are so many varieties and colors. I have only seen pink

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Not familiar at all with Jim’s lovely flower. Ghost Lilies seems fitting for such a dainty flower. It seems I can follow totally along no matter your subject unless it is flowers. In thinking back to why I am unfamiliar with flowers in general, I recall my Dad mowing and brush hogging everything in site. Mom complained, but still the only flowers I remember are Easter Lilies that grew on a hard to mow bank We were blessed with gardens, trees, and green grass, but few flowers. I still use Jim’s word “start” and have successfully gotten a “start” of many things that I later regretted and had to fight to get rid of. I suppose this would classify me as wishy washy when it comes to planting choices. One fiasco was a flowering vine Mom liked–the name escapes me. Another easy to grow is Weeping Willow and Forsythia with just a small cutting stuck into wet soil. Alas, they have some serious drawbacks with sewer lines, and Forsythia is difficult to get rid of when it gets good start. This has not stopped me from experimenting, but thanks to the Blind Pig and Google I research before I plant now. The winter onions or Egyptian walking onions have done well, and all started from 5 small bulbs. I did not let the bad smell steer me away from starting a little patch of ramps.

  • Reply
    Auntie Nan
    September 29, 2018 at 8:58 am

    We call those Spider Lilies in Texas . We have another one that pops up in early fall called Oxblood Lilies – especially after a good rain. Both come from bulbs and are old plants. I received starts of both from family members.

  • Reply
    Jeanie Crutchfield
    September 29, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Here in South Alabama we call them Spider Lillies. Also have one that the big leaf foliage comes up first and then after a few weeks up pops a stalk with a pine cone shaped pod on top. At first its green and then turns Red and if you touch it is watery . We call Pine Cone lilies. They are in bloom now .

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    September 29, 2018 at 8:52 am

    My mom and Grandma always called them spider lilies. They are so graceful in the breeze.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I’ve always call them spider lilies. That is what my parents call them and my Aunt.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Regardless of the name, the flower is beautiful. They must not grow in these parts, as I don’t recall seeing one. The Magic Lily has a similar growing habit. It suddenly appears out of nowhere in the spring but only last a few weeks.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 29, 2018 at 8:34 am

    I’ve seen those but never knew the name, also didn’t realize they lasted all winter. They sure must be hardy flowers!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 29, 2018 at 8:23 am

    There is a book I believe called “Naked Ladies in the Garden” about these plants. I never knew anything about them growing up. The first time I saw them was several years ago down near Columbus, GA. I was startled to see red blooms in peoples yards and wondered what they were. I don’t have any naked ladies myself.

    If it makes it through the ether, here is a link to a fun article in “Southern Living” that discusses both naked ladies and spider lilies.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 29, 2018 at 8:20 am

    In the western states we have another lily called “naked ladies.” It is a belladonna lily, and the lovely blossoms are pale pink. The stems are quite tall — maybe up to three feet — and there are several blossoms at the top of each one.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Surprise lilies because you don’t know where they are until they pop up.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I’ve seen these pop up in unusual places in a yard before, and when they do, your thinking, I didn’t know there were flowers planted there, I guess that’s why some folks call them ghost lily.

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    September 29, 2018 at 7:44 am

    I always have called them surprise lillies

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    September 29, 2018 at 7:04 am

    I had a lot of Naked Ladies back in PA but have not seen any since moving to NC. I really had forgotten about them. This is one of the reasons I love this blog. It jogs the old memory.

  • Reply
    Lonnie Baker
    September 29, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Momma called them Spider Lilies. Another friend said her family calls them Hurricane Lilies because they bloom during hurricane season.

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