Spider Lily Meaning And Symbolism

Last Updated on February 25, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

Have you ever heard of the famous spider lily and that this eye-catching beauty, in fact, symbolizes a meaning?

From a symbolic point of view, spider lilies have an interesting one.

They have been a fascination among people for many years, debating their meaning to this day.

The meaning and symbolism changes according to the individual type of spider lily.

They can be found in different colors, each color representing a different meaning. The red spider lily is the most popular one.

Other spider lily colors include, golden or yellow, purple, violet, white and electric blue.

In this article we want to create a compilation of the different spider lily types and their meaning, in hopes that you will get a better understanding of these magnificent plants.

Before we elaborate on the symbolism, let us learn a bit about spider lilies.

Characteristics of Spider Lily

The spider lily is a bulbous perennial plant type native to China and Japan. It is part of the Amaryllis family and is scientifically known as Lycoris.

This name comes from Mark Anthony’s mistress, who was a roman actress and whose name also was Lycoris. Most people, however, know them as spider lilies.

Lycoris – spider lilies are often found growing near riverbanks and graveyards, blooming for only a few days in late summer to early autumn across East Asia, their beautiful array of bright-colored flowers lasting for about two weeks.

Flowers

Spider lilies have flowers that develop long and thin petals which resemble spider legs, contributing to giving them a spidery appearance.

You will also find that some varieties carry funnel-shaped flowers which are surrounded by elongated petals, setting them apart from ordinary flowers. 

The flowers are exceptionally beautiful, and the different flower colors make a great addition to any flower arrangement.

Leaves

Interestingly enough, the leaves of a spider lily never appear when the plant is blooming, hence why it is frequently referred to as the naked lily or surprise lilies.

The foliage only seems to develop either before or after the plant has flowered.

The leaves appear as strap-shaped or linear forms. They are green and appear fresh-looking for a couple of weeks before the plant dies during the summer.

Stalk

The spider lily has a long green elegant looking stem which can grow to be between 12 and 17 inches tall.

This flower generally makes for a beautiful addition to any garden, sidewalk or lawn, and it can even be grown in a planter or container, the stalks displaying the beauty of lily blooms.

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The Myth of the Flowers and Leaves

As you have probably already gathered from the above information, the blooming pattern of the spider lily is quite unusual and almost unnatural.

I mean, there are not a lot of plants — if any — that only develop leaves once the flowers have died and fallen off.

This phenomenon is connected to an ancient myth, which is part of the symbolism of the red spider lily.

According to the myth, an ancient Chinese sun goddess known as Amaterasu, created this flower and had two fairies guard it. One was in charge of looking after the flowers while the other one looked after the leaves.

The goddess had one condition of her terms, which was that the fairies could never meet each other, or the flower would perish.

The fairies, however, were curious about one another and one day broke this rule and met in secret. Much to their dismay, they ended up falling in love, which made the sun goddess very angry. As a result, they were cursed to never see each other again.

This is the story that is connected to why the leaves of a spider lily can only come out after the flowers have fallen.

The Legend Behind the Meaning

According to the story, the nicknames for spider lilies are the flower of death, corpse flower or Japanese death flower. This reputation comes from them being toxic. 

Back in the day, in Japan, spider lilies were planted around rice paddies to create a border to keep out rodents such as mice to prevent them from eating their crops and spoiling their grain fields.

In Buddhism, the red spider lily — also known as Higanbana — was often planted on graves as a sign of tribute, remembrance and respect to those that have passed on.

Let us continue on by going through the different color varieties of the spider lily and their respective meanings and symbols.

Red Spider Lily

The red spider lily — aka the red magic lily, scientific name Lycoris radiata — is the most common type of lycoris species. As mentioned above, it is frequently called the flower of death or flower of heavens, being linked to it as a symbol of a sad memory and the last goodbye. 

Equinox flower is also a common name given to this lily. This name is connected to the time of year that these lilies grow. This time being, the autumn equinox.

Placing this flower on the graves of the dead symbolizes a form of respect and protection of the dead.

These flowers often begin to bloom after a heavy rainfall, giving them the name of hurricane lilies thanks to their growing pattern.

Yellow Spider Lily Symbolism

The eye-catching yellow or golden spider lily is typically associated with wealth as the color gold signifies money or riches. 

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Golden spider lilies are also connected to the symbols of love, thankfulness, remembrance, wisdom, courage and happiness.

The color yellow is perceived as a calm color, putting smiles on people’s faces when grown in gardens, as they look so pretty and vibrant.

When yellow lilies are gifted, it is often to give thanks to someone or to motivate them to reach their next goal.

White Spider Lilies

This vibrant flower is one of the best looking spider lily varieties. It is scientifically known as Lycoris albiflora and, from a symbolism point of view, stands for simple living, freshness and positive vibes.

New beginnings is another symbol that is attached to the white spider lily.

When planting this plant in your garden or a container, plant it near a lot of green flowers. This way, the vibrant white color will fully come to show and magically decorate your garden.

Orange Spider Lily

This is another beautifully vibrant lily. Its orange color catches the eye of many and promotes them to feel good and positive emotions.

The orange spider lily represents conviction, honor, confidence, pride, confidence and self-assurance.

Black Spider Lily

The black spider lily is the rarest variety that you can find. They are found in some areas of Japan and their meaning represents uncertainty and doubt.

When we come across a black spider lily, it is believed that an important decision of sorts needs to be made soon. This decision needs to be thought about carefully as it may determine the turn that your life may take at that moment.

Pink Spider Lily

These cute lilies are often found growing next to or near rivers. They bear a pink color because of the crossing of red and white lily varieties.

These vivacious lilies are said to represent love, passion, desire and feminine beauty. If you were to gift this flower to a person that you are fond of, it will show them that your intentions are genuine and trustworthy.

Blue Spider Lily Meaning

The electro blue spider lily is a mythical flower and does not exist in real life. It comes from a popular Japanese anime series called Kimetsu no yaiba, where this flower is used for medicinal purposes.

The story goes as follows: The flower was used to treat the villain of the story. His name is Muzan, and he was cursed with a disease which disabled him from walking in daylight. He felt that the medicine was not working and then decided to kill the doctor treating him.

Eventually, the villain realized that the blue lily medicine was in fact starting to work, and he wanted more of it. So Muzan goes on a quest and searches high and low to find more of the electro blue spider lilies, in hopes that his body will become strong and immortal when he finally finds his cure.

In the anime series, this flower symbolizes power and uniqueness because it has the ability to cure the ailments of a villain. These blue lilies are also said to depict the truth, giving off positive energy such as calmness, peacefulness and rest.

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Growing Red Spider Lilies

Now that we have a better understanding of the different meanings and symbols of this incredible plant, let us go through how you can cultivate your own garden of red spider lilies.

How to Plant Your Red Spider Lily

If you want to go about planting a spider lily, remember that planting this flower in late summer to early fall is important, as this is when the lilies flowers bloom.

Find a spot in a perennial flower bed or a container of your choice in which you want to plant your shrubs. Dig a hole and place the Lycoris bulbs, pointed tops facing upwards, into the prepared hole.

Make sure that the neck is situated either slightly above or level with the surface of the soil. If you plant bulbs below ground level, you may risk your plant not flowering.

If you are planting multiple bulbs in one garden bed or container, make sure that they are about four inches apart — this is about 10 cm.

Water the planted bulbs lightly until they start to grow above the surface, followed by moderate waterings during the blooming season. Do not water during summer. When the foliage starts to wither, one should leave the soil to dry out.

Prune away any yellow or withering leaves.

If you live in a colder area, be sure to protect your shrubs during winter. This can be done with a deep and dry mulch.

The Perfect Spot to Plant Red Spider Lilies

If you want to get the most out of these shrubs’ beautiful blooms, plant your bulbs in an area of full sun or areas of light shade.

Most species will survive in these light conditions. Red spider lilies however, requires an area of partial shade to thrive and grow well.

If you live in an area with wet summers, it is a good idea to plant your spider lily in a container instead of the garden. The conditions of potting soil are easier controlled in container plants.

It is important to plant the lily in soil that is organically rich and moist, not wet. Plant in well drained soil that can dry out in summer.

After 7 years of growing, the spider lily should be separated and replanted.

Final Thoughts on Spider Lily Meaning

This brings me to the end of our interpretation of spider lilies. I hope that with this information you have a better understanding of the stories and myths behind these beautiful flowering plants.

Maybe you might even want to get one of your own gorgeous spider lilies. Have a look online or at a nursery and get to planting. As you can see, they are not that hard to care for.

Happy planting!

References:

https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/short-reads/article/3014174/how-goddess-myth-gave-divine-justification

https://www.seiburailway.jp/railways/hanasanpo/english/manjushage/index.html