I have previously mentioned the native sea grape. Another very interesting and widespread plant on Anna Maria Island is the large crinum lily. Also called the spider lily, this large member of the amaryllis family can grow quickly to at least five feet high. The large white or burgundy ‘milk and wine’ flowers are very delicate and fragrant. When they go to seed and drop to the ground, new plants start easily, and the low-energy gardener can simply watch the garden expand, without doing any work at all. That’s my kind of gardening.
Although some instructions for how to grow crinum lilies indicates that regular watering and fertilizing are necessary, we have had them on our island property for ten years, and have only rarely given them any water or fertilizer. Crinum lilies are considered to have medium salt tolerance. Again, our experience has been better than this on our property, where the lilies are occasionally flooded when the tides are high. They may look bad for awhile, but they quickly recover.
When we first moved to the island, there were single crinum lilies here and there on our property. They looked almost too large for a small property, and we almost eliminated them. But then we decided to put them all next to each other, into a clump. The clump has continued to expand over the years, and it’s a very rewarding and beautiful part of our yard.
As explained above, we rarely water or fertilize. Probably the most effort required is the occasional spraying for a small insect that shows up from time to time. We haven’t identified this bug but it is a very small black sucking insect along the lines of spider mites or aphids. We used to call them thrips, but then we were informed that thrips jump, which these don’t. Whatever they are, Malathion seems to do the trick, and it’s not a frequent problem.
In addition to making our minimally landscaped yard look slightly prehistoric, and therefore, more interesting, these large lilies are a delight because they seem to be in bloom throughout the year. They aren’t the most common of cut flowers, but, in the right vase, they do make a beautiful indoor cut flower.