The Ismenen are really exceptionally beautiful bulb flowers. Without any exaggeration, its exotic flowers are simply a sensation. The bulb flowers are suitable as container plants or as seasonal bedding. The onions can be overwintered and used for the propagation of the Ismene, as they develop daughter onions.


The flowers of the Ismene appear from June to August, the flowering plant develops showy white flower heads of considerable size, which are characterized by a complicated structure. Depending on the variety, the Ismene flowers really represent a kind of bizarre total work of art, with funnel-shaped inner flowers that are surrounded by many other narrow and long petals.

Ismen in the garden

The Ismenen, on sale as Hymenocallis festalis or Ismene festalis, can be cultivated in the garden bed over the summer season, where they will always represent a very special focus.

The Ismenen bulbs can be planted in mild areas from March onwards; how deep they are set depends on the size of the bulbs: large bulbs are only placed so deep that the soil moisture remains constant where the roots begin is applied, this is the case at a depth of about 10 cm. The shoot should look out of the ground. Small onions (daughter onions, for example) must be set so deep that the roots reach this 10 cm deep into the supply layer, for this they usually have to disappear completely in the substrate.

If late frosts are to be feared in your region, you should not put the Ismenen bulbs in the bed until mid-May. If you want to see the Ismene flowers particularly early in your garden, you can prefer the onions in the pot and plant the already well-developed Ismene in the garden bed after the Ice Saints.

It is not a bad idea to put the Ismenen in the bed together with the pot.First, for reasons that are not known, our voles have developed a great appetite for the beautiful strangers, and then this type of planting will also help you to plant the bulbs of the Ismenen in the Winter to rescue.

The Ismene would like a sunny to partially shaded location, needs nutrient-rich soil and regular fertilizer in order to be able to develop the large flowers.

Ismen in the bucket

Ismena can also be grown very well as a container plant, where they are no less willing to flower. The bucket should have good drainage and be filled with humus, loose and fairly moist soil.

The Ismenen should even be able to be kept as pure indoor plants, but certainly not for long, because sooner or later the lack of light in keeping them in the apartment will bother them. If you intend to do this, you should probably find out about a good plant lamp beforehand and provide this light from the Ismenen for a sufficient period of time.

Care of the ismene

The Ismenen don’t really need a lot of care, they usually develop their beautiful white flowers willingly and without much effort on your part.

The flowering fertilizer has already been mentioned; it should be given every two weeks as soon as the first blossoms appear.

Otherwise you only need to water the ismenes sufficiently without “drowning” them in waterlogging.

Buy ismen
bulbs Ismene bulbs are usually sold in packs of three, at prices between 2 and 3 euros per onion.

However, you only need a few bulbs to occupy an area with ismenes, because several stalks will grow from a single bulb, and between two and five white flowers will develop from each of these stalks.

Cutting and preparation for wintering

The flowers of the Ismene smell sweet and can also be used as cut flowers to flavor your house, they last quite a long time in the vase.

When the Ismene blooms in the bed or in the tub, it is allowed to bloom in peace, the vegetation of the green then continues, the nutrients from the flower stalk are used by the plant until it is completely withered. Shortly before you want to bring the Ismene into the house for winter, you can remove all the wilt and cut back the entire plant in the upper area.

Ismene overwinter

So Ismene is now moving into the house, which is definitely necessary, the tropical plant is not hardy in our latitudes. You take the plant together with the bulbs and roots out of the ground or out of the bucket. Too much overgrown root mass can be cut back and store them in a cool room e.g. B. on newspaper until the soil adhering to the plant has become completely dry.

The earth can now be shaken off, roots and bulbs can now dry for a few more weeks. They should dry slowly so that they do not lose their flexibility while drying, and be handled very carefully, any damage now done to the roots could prevent flowering for the next year. You now put roots and onions in the newspaper and store this package in a cool room, e.g. B. in the basement.

When the season starts, from the beginning of April, roots and onions can already be put back in buckets, the roots should be pruned a little again. The tubs are placed in a light spot and carefully poured on.

The ismen that remain in the bucket will be placed outdoors with it from mid-May, the ismen for the bed can now be planted out. From now on the Ismene should be watered regularly, after not too long the first buds should be visible.

Sometimes one can read that the Ismene can hibernate outside in mild areas if it is provided with sufficient cover.

An Ismenen fan from Maryland, USA, actually reports that he simply leaves the Ismenen, who sit in the ground near a house wall, outside in winter. In Maryland it gets on average down to minus 17 degrees Celsius in winter. However, American houses are not exactly famous for their good insulation; the earth next to the house is probably also heated quite well. In addition, these Ismenen should not have been as vital in the next season as their siblings who were overwintered as onions, it is probably a better idea to overwinter the Ismen onions frost-free.


If you dig up the Ismenen in autumn, you will find some daughter onions at the roots, which, together with the main onion, are dried and overwintered. In spring these daughter onions are then cultivated separately and become new ismenes. These too will eventually become stately plants, but you need a little patience, a new ismene from a daughter bulb takes one to two years before the first flowers appear.

You could also let the flowers of the Ismene ripen, but then it would have to be clarified how pollination takes place and whether the Ismene are still able to reproduce at all, this is not the case with many hybrids. If in doubt, you could just try whether large green capsule fruits develop, in which quite large, green and fleshy seeds can be seen and whether seedlings sprout from these seeds.

“Pedigree” and varieties of ismen

Until recently, the ismena belong to the genus Hymenocallis, the beautiful skin or beautiful lilies, a genus of the amaryllis family. That is why the Ismene described here is often referred to as Hymenocallis festalis in trade. Actually, it is no longer called that, but Ismene × festalis, because the Ismenen were separated from the genus Hymenocallis in 1990 and set up as a separate genus due to various peculiarities only found in them. The Hymenocallis, and thus of course the ismena that have just been separated out, have developed exclusively in the The natural home of around 50 species is only in the Neotropicals, i.e. in the south of the USA, on the Caribbean islands, in Central America and in South America.

Why the hymenocallis bear their name is clear: “Hymen” means “skin” in Greek and “kallos” means “beautiful”, so the namesake really called the decorative flowering plants “fair skinned”. Why the ismen are called ismen is not quite so clear, two prominent ancient Greeks named their daughter Ismene, namely the unfortunate Oedipus and the river god Asopos, which of the two ismen for the plants (and for an ancient Greek colony and for one Asteroids), you can probably choose.

In any case, some Hymenocallis are now called Ismenen, have received a new surname, so to speak, which is the generic name of the plants in the front. The “first name” indicating the exact type remained the same, and these types of ismen are now there:

  • The Ismene amancaes with bright yellow flowers that have green stripes on the inside and develop before the leaves of the wild plants.
  • The Ismene hawkesii, a coastal ismene that is one of the few original ismenes that are grown in culture, blooms in a glorious light yellow.
  • Ismene longipetala, an Ismene with a phenomenal bloom, which is cultivated but can only be acquired in real exotic nurseries.
  • The same is true of the Ismene narcissiflora, if you want these rare ismenas, you could find them in English collections of rare plants.

Even if you want to be satisfied with the Ismene x festalis described here, the wild species give an indication of the uniqueness of the new genus, because all these exotic flowering plants developed in Peru.

The Ismene longipetala and the Ismene narcissiflora are now the parents of our Hymenocallis festalis. Which, if at all, has to be named “Hymenocallis × festalis”, because the “x” makes the decisive difference here – it identifies it as a hybrid, as a cross between two original species resulting from breeding.

Now it is called Ismene × festalis and flowers no less beautifully, and there are other hybrid varieties of Ismenen that have arisen through breeding:

  • A very special variety of Ismene x festalis is the “Zwanenburg”, a classic among the Ismenen that is very reminiscent of orchids.
  • The Ismene x Advance is a backcross of the Ismene x festalis and the Ismene narcissiflora with a very expressive flower.
  • Ismene x spofforthiae “Sulfur Queen” was crossed from the Ismene narcissiflora and the yellow-flowered Ismene amancaes, the color is correspondingly interesting.


This onion flower combines great beauty with low maintenance requirements and is definitely a recommendation for all gardeners who have special design requirements. In addition, the ismenes, which are easy to cultivate, are of course also wonderful plants for all garden owners who like to put together magnificent bouquets of flowers from their garden, to decorate their home or to give away.

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