How to Grow Aztec Lily — Sprekelia

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Sprekelia — commonly called Aztec lily–bears dark crimson flowers resembling orchids above foliage that look like that of the daffodil. Spreklia blooms 6 to 8 weeks after planting. In mild climates, it may flower several time a year.

Plant Sprekelia in a sunny border. It is most effective when planted in groups. Sprekelia is also an attractive container plant. It can be grown in pots like amaryllis when repotted every 3 to 4 years.

Sprekelia is a single species genus. It is native to rocky slopes in Mexico and Guatemala. It can be grown as a perennial in regions where winters are mild. In cold winter regions, it can be grown as a potted annual.

Get to know Sprekelia 

  • Plant type: Bulb. 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 8 to 10. 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 8
  • Height and width: Up to 1 foot (.3m) tall.  
  • Foliage: Straplike leaves that look like that of daffodil.  
  • Flowers: Bright red flowers have three upper segments and three lower ones rolled into a cylinder for part of their length, resembling orchids.  
  • Bloom time: Spring where hardy, summer when grown as annual.  
  • Uses: Borders where hardy, or in pots.  
  • Garden companions: Baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata
  • Common name: Aztec lily, Jacobean Lily, St. James lily. 
  • Botanical name: Sprekelia
  • Family name: Amaryllidaceae 
  • Origin: Rocky slopes in Mexico and Guatemala
Sprekelia, commonly called Aztec lily or Jacobean lily
Sprekelia, commonly called Aztec lily or Jacobean lily

Where to plant Sprekelia 

  • Plant Sprekelia in full sun.  
  • Plant Sprekelia in deep, rich soil.  

When to plant Sprekelia 

  • Plant Sprekelia in fall. 

Planting and spacing Sprekelia 

  • Plant Sprekelia bulbs 3-4 inches (7.6-10cm) deep and 8 inches (20.3cm) apart, with necks above soil level.  
  • Sprekelia are most effective planted in groups.  

How to water and feed Sprekelia 

  • Give Sprekelia regular water during growth period and bloom.  
  • Fertilize Sprekelia with an organic bloom food in spring.

How to care for Sprekelia 

  • Where winters are cold, plant Sprekelia outdoors in spring; lift plants in fall when foliage yellows and store over winter (leave the dry tops on; do not remove them).  
  • Sprekelia grown in pots should be repotted every 3 to 4 years.  

Sprekelia pests and diseases 

  • Sprekelia have few disease problems. 
  • Sprekelia have few pest problems. 

Sprekelia propagation 

  • Separate small offsets when dormant in early autumn.
  • Divide small Sprekelia bulbs after blooming.  

Sprekelia varieties to grow 

  • Sprekelia formosissima, often sold as Amaryllis formosissima, is a bulb native to Mexico; foliage looks like the foliage of the daffodil; stems grow to 12 inches (30cm) tall and are toped with dark crimson blooms that resemble orchids; most effective planted in groups; plants may flower several times a year in mild climates.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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