Oxblood lilies grow at the base of my rosemary. I don’t do anything to them or think much about them until September when they sprout almost overnight, burst into bloom and remind me that life is good.
Durable and undemanding, this Argentine bulb deserves to be planted more frequently than it is. Although not as large (11-14 inches tall with blooms 2-3 inches long) as its amaryllis cousins, oxblood lily produces numerous blooms per stalk in a color equal to its name. A clump of them is as festive as a Christmas bouquet and as refreshing as a glass of pomegranate juice.
Oxblood lily goes by the botanical name Rhodophiala bifida, although some sources list it as Hippeastrum advenum. It is also called “schoolhouse lily” because it blooms at the beginning of the school year.
Oxblood lilies thrive in full sun to half shade and in any soil as long as it is not soggy. Try them in a rock garden or in front of evergreen shrubs such as boxwoods. They mix well with dianthus, thrift, antenaria and thyme. Don’t combine them with red spider lilies, however. The oxblood lily undercuts the drama of the spider lily, and the spider overshadows the shorter, simpler oxblood. Keep them apart.
-- Arty Schronce
Arty Schronce lives and gardens in the historic Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta. He encourages everyone to discover the pleasures of plants and gardening.