One of the three known species of the genus Sprekelia in the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae) is Sprekelia formosissima commonly called as Aztec Lily or Jacobean Lily, a herbaceous perennial bulb. One of the peculiar features of Aztec Lily is its showy flowers for which it is usually grown for, having said that this species of lily is not that common especially in colder climates. This bulb is native to rocky hillsides of Southern Mexico and Guatemala and is found only to zone 8 and higher as it can withstand extreme environment. Sometimes Aztec lily is offered as Amaryllis formossima.

Scientific Information

Kingdom : Plantae
Clade : Tracheophytes
Clade : Angiosperms
Clade : Monocots
Order : Asparagales
Family : Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily : Amaryllidoideae
Tribe : Hippeastreae
Subtribe : Hippeastrinae
Genus: Sprekelia

Bold red petals which look spectacular and green strap like leaves are the highlights of this plant. The flowers are up to 6 inches across that emerge from a foot long hollow, robust and cylindrical scapes. Furthermore, the flowers resemble a velvet orchid and are bilaterally symmetrical. The end of a flower bears six long tepals among which one is broader placed in the center and is upright. Two lateral ones are narrow and curved back at tips, while three others lower ones are partly fused together rolling up in a horizontal cylinder and they encompass the long filaments of stamens and large anthers with yellow pollens. Color of flowers range from scarlet to deep crimson, but there are somewhat pink, white and lighter color patches around the flowers. The flowers however are transient in nature, they shed off quickly in few days after blooming. The plant is six to 12 inches tall which makes it a perfect choice for both indoor and outdoor environment. The leaves emerge in the spring, just after the first rains in their native habitat, and this occurs at the same time as or before the flowers. Each bulb can give rise to several leaves growing in the upright direction at first which flop over as they get longer. The bulb may be up to 2 inches in diameter. Aztec lily however is not an appropriate choice as a reliable bulb plant if someone is expecting to get flowers every year so opting to hybrids are much more reliable. Thus, the genus being close to Hippeastrum, these can be hybridized.

In outdoor setting, blooming of the plant usually occurs in late spring to early summer, but mostly it depends on the cultivar so sometimes blooming can occur in fall too. If grown in the containers as a houseplant or in a greenhouse they may bloom at other times of the year. Moreover, if grown as a seasonal plant they will bloom often several weeks later after planting.

Caring : When planting lily outside in the garden it is to be made sure that the place gets good amount of sunlight and the soil is alkaline and compost enriched garden loam soil. Bulb should be positioned in soil with a bit of its neck above the soil and the space between two bulbs must at least be 20-30 cm and the bulb should be placed 10 cm deep in the soil.

Recommended mostly for USDA 8-10 zone where Aztec lilies can be grown round the year with a little extra bit of protection with mulch during winter. Outside of that region extra care should be given to the plant, the bulb should be planted in a well-draining potting mix and should be protected during rainfall and winter.

Plant should be regularly watered during growing season and once established firmly they are drought resistant. Liquid feed must be supplemented two times a week during growing season. Once must keep in mind that even after providing perfect conditions for its growth, the plant may not flower every year.

Some of the advantages of planting Aztec lilies apart from its aesthetic value are :

• They are deer resistant.
• They are pest resistant.
• They are good for containers.
• They are good rock garden or alpine plant.

They can be propagated by separating offsets when they are dormant in early autumn. If disturbed other than that it may not flower for several years after being divided or dug out.