Steven Gunther

Bulb that's a great groundcover

Sharon Cohoon,  – November 18, 2004

There are dozens of reasons Laguna Beach landscape designer Jeff Powers of Earthscaping likes fairy lily (Zephyranthes candida). For one thing, though it’s a bulb, its grassy leaves are evergreen and somewhat succulent. “That makes it a handsome, extremely low-maintenance ground cover–useful in many situations,” he says. The bulb spreads quickly, choking out weeds, but it tolerates crowding so you don’t have to divide it to keep it blooming. The white carpet of fairy lily under European white birch pictured at left is a prime example: It has flourished in this Corona del Mar garden for nine years without tampering.

Another plus: Z. candida puts on its best bloom show from late summer through mid-fall, when most gardens have little in flower. You can trick it into blooming again by letting it dry out, then giving it a good drenching. Z. candida is available in containers at nurseries now or in bulb form come January and February.