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Surprise Lily Companion Plants: The Perfect Addition to Your Garden

surprise lily companion plants

The Basics of Surprise Lilies

If you're looking for a unique and eye-catching addition to your garden, look no further than the surprise lily! These plants, also known as magic lilies or naked ladies, are named for their habit of blooming seemingly out of nowhere in late summer or early fall. While they may appear to be dead or dormant for most of the year, surprise lilies send up tall, leafless stalks topped with pink or white flowers that can reach up to two feet tall.

But what makes surprise lilies truly special is their ability to thrive alongside a variety of other plants. In this article, we'll explore some of the best companion plants for surprise lilies, along with tips for planting and caring for these fascinating flowers.

Companion Plants for Surprise Lilies

When choosing companion plants for your surprise lilies, it's important to consider a few key factors. First, you'll want to choose plants that have similar growing requirements, such as soil type and sun exposure. You'll also want to select plants that complement or contrast with the colors and textures of your surprise lilies.

Here are some great options to consider:


Hostas are a classic choice for companion planting, thanks to their lush foliage and shade-loving tendencies. They make a great backdrop for surprise lilies, providing a contrasting texture and color that really makes the flowers pop. Plus, hostas are relatively low-maintenance and come in a wide range of sizes and colors, so you're sure to find a variety that works well with your surprise lilies.


If you're looking to add some extra color to your garden, consider planting daylilies alongside your surprise lilies. These hardy perennials come in a variety of shades and bloom throughout the summer, creating a beautiful contrast with the late-season blooms of your surprise lilies. Plus, like surprise lilies, daylilies are relatively easy to care for and can tolerate a range of growing conditions.


For a splash of vibrant color, try planting some salvia alongside your surprise lilies. These tall, spiky plants come in shades of purple, pink, blue, and red, and their vertical form contrasts nicely with the rounded shape of your surprise lily flowers. Salvia also attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies, helping to create a more diverse and thriving garden ecosystem.


Sedum is a great choice for companion planting with surprise lilies because it shares similar growing requirements, including full sun and well-draining soil. This low-growing succulent has thick, fleshy leaves and comes in a variety of shapes and colors, making it an interesting textural complement to your surprise lilies. Plus, sedum is drought-tolerant and requires minimal maintenance, making it a great choice for low-maintenance gardens.

Planting and Caring for Surprise Lilies

Now that you know some of the best companion plants for surprise lilies, let's talk about how to plant and care for these unique flowers.

Surprise lilies prefer well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade. They should be planted in the fall, with bulbs placed about 6 inches deep in the ground. It's important to give your surprise lilies plenty of room to grow, as they can spread up to a foot wide over time.

Once planted, surprise lilies require minimal maintenance. They don't need to be watered unless the soil is very dry, and they don't require fertilization. In fact, too much moisture or fertilizer can actually harm the bulbs and prevent them from blooming in future seasons.

After your surprise lilies have finished blooming, it's important to leave the foliage in place until it dies back naturally. This allows the plant to store energy for next year's blooms. Once the foliage has yellowed and withered away, you can remove it without harming the bulbs.


Q: Can I plant surprise lilies in containers?

A: Yes, surprise lilies can be planted in containers as long as the container is large enough to accommodate the bulb and has drainage holes. Be sure to use a well-draining potting mix and water sparingly to avoid rotting the bulbs.

Q: How do I propagate surprise lilies?

A: Surprise lilies can be propagated by dividing the bulbs in the fall, once the foliage has died back. Gently dig up the bulbs and separate them into smaller clumps, then replant at the same depth as before.

Q: Do surprise lilies attract pests or diseases?

A: Surprise lilies are relatively pest- and disease-resistant, but they can be susceptible to bulb rot if planted in poorly-draining soil or overwatered. To prevent bulb rot, make sure your surprise lilies are planted in well-draining soil and water sparingly.

Q: When should I expect my surprise lilies to bloom?

A: Surprise lilies typically bloom in late summer or early fall, usually around August or September depending on your climate. Keep an eye out for tall, leafless stalks emerging from the ground as a sign that your surprise lilies are about to bloom!

Q: Can I cut back the foliage on my surprise lilies before it dies back naturally?

A: No, it's important to leave the foliage in place until it dies back naturally. This allows the plant to store energy for next year's blooms. Once the foliage has yellowed and withered away, you can remove it without harming the bulbs.

Surprise lilies are a fascinating and unique addition to any garden, and choosing the right companion plants can really help them shine. Whether you opt for lush hostas or colorful daylilies, these easy-to-care-for flowers are sure to delight and surprise you year after year.

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