Sprekelia formosissima

12 Interesting Facts About Sprekelia

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The Sprekelia plant, also known as the Aztec lily or Jacobean lily, is a fascinating flower with a unique history and appearance. In this article, we’ll explore 12 interesting facts about this eye-catching plant.


The Sprekelia is a bulbous perennial that produces vibrant red flowers on tall stalks. The blooms are six-petaled and resemble small lilies or amaryllis flowers. The plants grow 1-2 feet tall and do best in zones 8-10. However, they can be grown as potted plants in colder climates.

The Sprekelia originated in Mexico and has a rich history with the Aztec cultures. Today, it remains a popular ornamental plant due to its vibrant blooms and exotic appearance.

Interesting Sprekelia Facts

Aztec Lily (Sprekelia formosissima)

1. Its Name Honors a German Botanist

The plant was named after Johann Heinrich Sprekelsen, a German botanist who first brought the flower to Europe’s attention in the early 1800s.

Sprekelias were revered by Aztec healers and priests and used in religious ceremonies. The plants were depicted in Aztec artwork and lore.

3. The Aztecs Called It the “Flower of the Gods”

To the Aztecs, its vibrant red color symbolized blood and sacrifice. Thus, they believed it had divine connections and called it the “flower of the gods.”

4. It Has Been Cultivated for Centuries

The Sprekelia has been cultivated as an ornamental plant since at least the 16th century. However, it did not gain widespread popularity outside Mexico until the 19th century.

5. They Bloom in Early Summer

Sprekelias produce their vibrant red flowers in late spring to early summer. The blooms last about two weeks on the plants.

6. The Plants Go Dormant After Flowering

Once the Sprekelia has finished flowering, the leaves and stems die back entirely. The plant goes dormant for 6-8 weeks before new foliage emerges again in fall.

7. They Grow from Bulbs

Like other plants in the amaryllis family, Sprekelias grow from bulbs. The bulbs should be planted in early spring at a depth of 2-3 inches.

8. It’s Sometimes Called the “Aztec Lily”

One of its common names is the Aztec lily, owing to its origins and importance to Aztec cultures. However, Sprekelias are not true lilies.

9. There’s Also a Yellow Variety

While red is the most common, there are also yellow varieties of the Sprekelia plant. The yellow blooms are slightly smaller but just as eye-catching.

10. Hummingbirds Are Attracted to Them

The vibrant, tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, which pollinate the blossoms.

11. They Work Well as Cut Flowers

Sprekelia’s exotic blooms make excellent-cut flowers. They last up to two weeks in floral arrangements.

12. The Plants Spread Easily

As the bulbs multiply over time, Sprekelia plants will self-sow and spread in the garden. The bulbs can be dug up and replanted each year to control their spread.

With their vibrant blooms and exotic history, Sprekelia plants make excellent additions to warm-climate gardens. Their striking flowers and extended summer dormancy give them unique seasonal interests. Sprekelias are sure to be conversation starters!

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