Oxblood Lilies

If you want a bullet proof flower for the Austin area try oxblood lilies.

Rhodophiala bifida
Rhodophiala bifida

When we first moved to this property very few living things had managed to survive not only a long term drought but more than a few years of being completely neglected. I found these oxblood lilies growing in a large clump hidden in VERY shady area under some overgrown shrubs. When I first saw them I felt like an anthropologist and thought they were a small sign that in ancient times a gardener must have lived here.

In fact, a gardener did live here. A few years ago I met one of my neighbours who grew up in our neighbourhood which dates back to the 1940s. He knew the original owner/gardener and showed me a few of the shrubs and trees he remembered helping to dig the holes for. I was really inspired by that conversation. I kind of hope that if the ghost of that gardener ever visits he would be happy to see that I love this little spot as much as he did.

oxblood lily
oxblood lily

Oxblood lilies are not native but they are one of the few bulbs willing to naturalize here. Like the rain lilies and cenizo, they are triggered by autumn rain. I learned today that they can live from 50-100 years! I believe it.

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10 thoughts on “Oxblood Lilies

    1. It was a happy coincidence that he was walking by as I was cutting the grass. It may be a short history but there is one. =) I have to say I was surprised to read that. I think of bulbs as being short lived lifeforms.

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  1. I grew up calling these “school yard lilies”. Having teachers remind me as a child not to pick the wild flowers – that they are to be left to share their beauty with each passer-by – that lesson is indelibly intermingled for me with their appearance every year just after school started. I believe they may have been the first wildflower that I thought of specifically AS a wildflower. I was surprised to discover they aren’t native to our area but if a plant lives for a century in a place, how can you NOT claim a longevity waiver and call that plant “native”?

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    1. Since they bloom in September it makes perfect sense to call them school yard lilies. There does seem to be a fine line between plants that naturalize and plants that are considered invasive.

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