What is an Amazon Lily?

Jessica Ellis

The Amazon lily is a South American flowering plant known for its sweet-smelling blossoms and beautiful dark green foliage. Though native to tropical areas, the Amazon lily makes a wonderful houseplant and can even survive outdoors in areas with mild winters. These lovely tropical plants require moist soil, indirect sunlight, and good drainage in order to thrive.

Handful of peat moss, which is good for Amazon lilies.
Handful of peat moss, which is good for Amazon lilies.

The Amazon rainforest is believed to hold millions of plants and animals never before classified by science. Thankfully for the gardening population, several plants have made their way back from this tropical wonderland and have been found to thrive elsewhere under the right care. The Amazon lily is one such plant, often found on riverbanks in its native home. A moisture-loving plant, it is important to keep the soil around this lily continuously damp but not soaking, keeping an adequate wetness level maintained by using a well drained container or bed. Some gardening experts recommend mixing potting soil with peat moss to help regulate the moisture for the lily.

Amazon lilies are most often grown from bulbs, which are available through nurseries and garden centers that specialize in tropical plants. A single bulb can go in a small, well-drained pot, but clumps of several lilies make an excellent display in a larger pot, about 8 inches (20.32 cm) or more. Since the blossoms last only a few days, planting clumps of lilies may allow for a sustained blooming season.

In order to begin growth, bulbs need a relatively warm temperature and may be easier to start indoors. If the air gets significantly cooler at night, plants should be kept or moved indoors. If grown inside, the lilies should be placed in bright, indirect light, such as on a windowsill. Outdoors, plants require more sheltered situations or dappled sunlight. They will feel right at home when adding a tropical flair to any water features such as waterfalls or rivers, provided they are kept in relatively shady conditions.

When fully grown, an Amazon lily will feature dark, satiny leaves that grow out around the base of the plant. Flower stalks will shoot upwards and produce large, star-shaped blossoms. There are typically several flower buds on each stalk; the flowers will bloom one or two at a time. The scent is a sweet and heady fragrance, reminiscent of other members of the lily family. Those who prefer stronger scents will love the Amazon lily, while people who prefer delicate fragrances may not enjoy the blast of sweetness from these lovely white flowers.

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