Surprise lilies typically bloom in late July or early August in Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Recent rains could boost the late appearance of a popular flower in Iowa.

Like clockwork, magic lilies, also known as surprise lilies or naked ladies, bloom in Iowa in late summer in synchronicity.

If you see them popping up in one part of town, you’ll generally see them in another, but 2023 was an anomaly.

For gardeners who watered their plants in the midst of Iowa’s drought, surprise lilies made an appearance at the end of July, but others that allowed nature to take its course only started to see them appear in August, with noticeable blossoms around Aug. 6.

The easy-to-grow perennial sports elegant daffodil-like foliage early in the season, which disappears with the summer’s heat. By late July or early August, pink flowers tinged in blue simultaneously pop up on bare stalks, seemingly out of nowhere.

Another name for the flower formally known as Lycoris squamigera — in  the amaryllis family — is resurrection lily.

While magic lilies are drought-tolerant — and overwatering can rot the bulbs — they benefit from enough water for better blossoms, and grow in partial shade or full sun.

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