Several seedlings of toad lily (Tricyrtis) have reached flowering age without notable differences between seedlings and parents. With a dozen or more cultivars in the garden, opportunities for cross pollination are present, but if there are variations from parent plants the differences are slight on second year plants. Flower buds on seedlings of ‘Miyazaki’ (below) stand slightly more erect on young plants, and foliage in nearly full sun was not damaged in the late summer heat as on parent plants. But, these minor differences could be cultural rather than genetic.
Probably, the non-collector would see little difference in flowers of the various cultivars (and seedlings), though growth habits vary from upright to sprawling, and several have variegated foliage edged in cream or yellow. The trumpet shaped flowers of all are close in form, with six showy (often spotted) tepals and stamens uniquely arranged to deliver sticky pollen to the hairy backs of bumblebees that dive deep into the flower for nectar. Occasionally, larger bumblebees will be seen stealing nectar (below) by biting through the base of the flower, though most blooms are open enough to accommodate even the largest bees. This behavior is akin to cutting in line, and should not encouraged.
Toad lilies will hardly make the show of larger flowered and more common autumn mums and pansies, and are not so well suited to planting in mass for floral effect. The refined flower is enjoyed more at close range rather than from the street while driving past. But, if planted from a gallon container, the toad lily is tough and here to stay with little care required by the gardener for the next few decades.
With an unfortunate predilection for neglect of new plantings, I’ve lost a few toad lilies in small pots obtained from specialty growers, for which I am entirely to blame. The loss of yellow and white flowered toad lilies is disappointing, and the lesson, for similarly abusive gardeners (assuming there are some out there), is that larger pots with greater root mass are encouraged to avoid losses.