Oxblood Lilies, also known as Schoolhouse Lilies or Rhodophiala bifida, are captivating late-summer and fall blooming flowers known for their vibrant, crimson blossoms. Cultivating these unique and hardy bulbs is a rewarding endeavor. In this expert guide, we’ll provide comprehensive instructions on how to grow Oxblood Lilies successfully, referencing information from reputable government bodies, horticultural organizations, and academic experts.

Introduction to Oxblood Lilies

Oxblood Lilies are small, bulbous perennials native to South America. They are appreciated for their brilliant, blood-red flowers and their ability to thrive in a variety of garden settings. Before you start growing Oxblood Lilies, it’s important to understand their characteristics and requirements.

Selecting the Right Bulbs

When acquiring Oxblood Lily bulbs, ensure you purchase them from reputable sources or nurseries. Quality bulbs are essential for successful growth. Consult local horticultural experts or the American Horticultural Society for guidance on selecting the best bulbs for your region.

Choosing the Ideal Planting Location

Oxblood Lilies perform well in a range of environments, from full sun to partial shade. Select a site with well-drained soil and consider amending the soil with organic matter to enhance its fertility. Conduct a soil test through your local Agricultural Extension Office to assess and adjust the soil’s pH if needed.

Planting Oxblood Lilies

Follow these steps when planting Oxblood Lilies:


Plant the bulbs in late summer or early fall, typically around September. This timing allows them to establish roots before their vibrant blooms emerge.


Place the bulbs about 4 inches deep in the soil, spaced 6 to 8 inches apart. Plant in groups or clusters for a more stunning display.


Water the bulbs well after planting to settle the soil and encourage root growth.

Proper Care and Maintenance

Oxblood Lilies require minimal maintenance but benefit from some care:


Water sparingly during the growing season, and avoid overwatering, as these bulbs are quite drought-tolerant once established.


Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring to support healthy growth.

Pest and Disease Management

Oxblood Lilies are generally resistant to pests and diseases. Monitor for issues like aphids or slugs, and consult local horticultural experts for effective management strategies if necessary.

Naturalization and Propagation

Oxblood Lilies can readily naturalize and multiply over the years. After a few seasons, you may notice new bulbs appearing nearby. These can be carefully dug up and transplanted to other areas in your garden for a stunning mass planting effect.

Resources for Further Information

For in-depth knowledge and expert advice on growing Oxblood Lilies, explore resources from horticultural experts and institutions such as:

American Horticultural Society


Agricultural Extension Office

Your local extension office can provide personalized guidance and resources.

What are Oxblood Lilies, and why are they also known as Schoolhouse Lilies?

Oxblood Lilies, scientifically named Rhodophiala bifida, are small, vibrant red flowers that often bloom around the start of the school year, hence the alternative name “Schoolhouse Lilies.”

When is the best time to plant Oxblood Lily bulbs?

Oxblood Lily bulbs are typically planted in late summer or early fall, usually in September.

How deep should Oxblood Lily bulbs be planted, and what spacing is ideal?

Plant bulbs about 4 inches deep in the soil, with a spacing of 6 to 8 inches between bulbs.

What type of soil do Oxblood Lilies prefer, and how can I amend it if necessary?

Oxblood Lilies thrive in well-drained soil. You can improve soil fertility by adding organic matter. Conduct a soil test through your local Agricultural Extension Office to determine if pH adjustments are required.

How should I water Oxblood Lilies during their growing season?

Water sparingly during the growing season, as Oxblood Lilies are relatively drought-tolerant once established. Avoid overwatering.

Do Oxblood Lilies require fertilizer, and if so, when should it be applied?

Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to support healthy growth and blooming.

Are Oxblood Lilies prone to common pests and diseases, and how can I manage them?

Oxblood Lilies are generally resistant to pests and diseases. Monitor for issues like aphids or slugs, and consult local horticultural experts for management strategies if needed.

Can Oxblood Lilies naturalize and spread in the garden?

Yes, Oxblood Lilies can naturalize and multiply over time. After a few seasons, they may produce new bulbs that can be transplanted to other areas for a more extensive display.

What is the blooming period for Oxblood Lilies, and how can I extend their flowering season?

Oxblood Lilies typically bloom in late summer and early fall. To extend their flowering season, plant different varieties with staggered bloom times.

Where can I find more information and expert resources on growing Oxblood Lilies?

Explore resources from the American Horticultural Society and consult your local Agricultural Extension Office for personalized guidance and horticultural expertise on cultivating Oxblood Lilies.

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