Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Gardening: Little lily love in the tropics

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: BOOKS on tropical gardening contain little information about types of lily. In fact, few ornamental varieties are mentioned. There is plenty about the allium branch of the family – onions, chives, garlic and the like – but little on flowering lilies.

The problem is that though they have been around for 4,000 years, the majority of lilies grow only in temperate or sub-tropical regions.

Indeed, most Asiatic hybrids or Oriental lilies, despite their names, exist here only as imports. These are especially prized as cut flowers destined for hotels and drawing rooms.

But there are varieties that can grace your Phuket garden. Take the spider lily (Hymenocallis littoralis) as an example.

It is used everywhere on the island as a bedding plant, usually planted in massed ranks to create a dramatic effect. The spider lily is ideal as ground cover, since it has attractive, strap-shaped leaves and distinctive star-shaped flowers with long spidery petals emerging from a white hub – hence the name spider lily.

It is a neat plant, unlikely to exceed two feet in height. Because of its popularity, it has spawned a number of cultivars, including a form with attractive variegated foliage, and another with much narrower leaves. The flowers tend to appear at the same time, and last quite awhile.

But perhaps the lily’s main selling point is its good nature. For it will tolerate a range of soils, and though it flowers most easily in sunny conditions, it will also put up with deep shade. Moreover it will, if left alone, multiply and provide an ever larger patch of blooms. It is an excellent starter flower for the new garden.

One lily-lookalike that flourishes outdoors in Thailand’s dry season is a variety of hippeastrum. No longer classified as a true lily, the hippeastrum belongs to the larger genus of amaryllidaceae that includes the lilies.

Right now, it is in flower around Phuket, a distinctive, single-stemmed plant crowned by four lily-like, trumpet-shaped flowers in an unusual shade of deep salmon pink. The blooms face to the four points of the compass – hence the colloquial Thai name translating as “facing four ways” or “compass plant”.

It grows about 18 inches tall, and looks particularly decorative when grouped as a border plant. Give it time and the bulbs will multiply unseen. A roadside bed near Nai Harn Lake is evidence of that.

Most other species of hippeastrum will struggle in Thailand’s heat. So it is usually sold here – as in Europe – as a massive bulb, which you then plant in a container with the top third projecting above the soil.

Give the bulb a rich potting mix, with a pH no higher than 6.5. A slow developer, it will, like its outdoor Thai cousin, take up to 10 months to flower, and will only do so once it has produced a least four, characteristic, strap-like leaves.

However, the results are truly spectacular – voluptuous, trumpet-shaped blooms at the top of thick, fleshy stems, and a range of colors from deep red through salmon pink to cream and white.

There are many striped and bi-colored forms, as befits a plant that has been extensively hybridized. And one stem may produce anything from two to a dozen blooms. But if you want your hippeastrum to flower again, you will need to put the bulb in cooler conditions for a few weeks before re-potting.

I am currently growing one in a container outdoors. Placed in a shaded area next to the house, it already has several leaves, so it should flower in due course – fingers crossed. But the real test will come if, and when, it is transferred permanently to a flower bed.

Phuket Gardening is Phuket Gazette columnist Patrick Campbell’s feature of all things flora and fauna.

If you have a garden that you would like to be featured on this page, please email:

Keep checking our online Phuket Lifestyle pages for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Campbell


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to be donated to Thailand from Japan

Bangkok2 hours ago

Bangkok police warn that protests planned for Thursday break the Emergency Decree

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Hotel occupancy, Phuket beaches hit with tar balls, doctor ‘warning’ | June 21

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Thailand3 hours ago

Pattaya residents complain of sinkholes in road, couple sustains injuries

Insurgency3 hours ago

2 suspected insurgents killed in gunfire exchange with police-military team

Best of3 hours ago

Top 8 Things to do in Hua Hin

Thailand4 hours ago

Army raids a house, arrests 53 as part of alleged gambling operation

Best of4 hours ago

Top 5 Insurance Companies for Expats in Thailand

Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand abstains from vote on UN resolution condemning Myanmar violence

Leisure4 hours ago

Top 5 Rooftop Bars in Bangkok

Best of4 hours ago

Top 5 Shabu-Shabu Restaurants in Bangkok

Indonesia4 hours ago

Indonesia approaches 2 million Covid cases

Thailand5 hours ago

Monday Covid Update: 3,175 new cases; infections rise in the Deep South

Pollution5 hours ago

Oil slick and ‘tar balls’ wash up on Phuket’s beaches – what caused it?

Best of5 hours ago

Top 5 Ice Cream Shops in Bangkok

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8