A lack of self control, who me?

I must start today by denying the obvious. I insist that I am able to control a seeming compulsion to purchase one of too many plants, and collections of far too many. There is meager evidence to support my claim, I understand, but I must point to a recent decision to halt further collecting of toad lilies (Tricyrtis).

I haven’t a clue how many varying toad lilies are here (all are marvelous), with part of the reason that several are practically indistinguishable from one another. And also, there are dozens of seedlings……or perhaps some were purchases that are too similar in appearance, I’m not certain. No matter what my wife says, and she says it frequently, I am not completely oblivious. Yes, there are other things in life besides over filling the garden with anything that captures my attention, and yes, I know that the furnace filters must be changed.

Tricyrtis formosana var. grandiflora ‘W-Ho-ping Toad’ is tall growing, and somewhat gangly. With sparse branching there are fewer flowers than other toad lilies.

An important ingredient in proper collecting, I think, is to be able to identify items in the collection. Admittedly, I am negligent in record keeping, and plants in the garden are never labelled. So, beyond several toad lilies, common and not, that are somehow indelibly imprinted upon my poor, feeble brain, I’ve no clue of the identity of others.

The foliage of ‘Miyazaki’ is noticeably less glossy with a hairier surface than other toad lilies. In more sun the foliage browns along the edges, but flowering is increased. Tricyrtis hirta cultivars are the most floriferous, though flowers are often tightly bunched and are held less gracefully than others. Still a favorite in this garden, which has provided starter plants for many others. It is likely that some toad lilies I call ‘Miyazaki’ are in fact Tricyrtis hirta ‘Moonlight’ that was planted some time, I think.
This yellow flowered toad lily was flooded in late spring, and it almost disappeared before it was rescued and transplanted. I’ve had a notable lack of success with yellow toad lilies, mostly I think, because they were planted into this area of damp soil. The new location will be better suited to toad lilies, and I expect better growth and flowering next year.

In recent years I’ve purchased a new toad lily, that grows nicely and flowers, but then it looks identical to one over there, and maybe one over there also. It could be the same cultivar, or maybe it’s just similar, but if it’s too similar to tell apart, what’s the purpose in my spending twenty bucks for it? So finally, I’ve realized this.

‘Lightning Strike’ is planted in more sun than other toad lilies. Growth and flowering are effected to a slight degree. In contrast to the other prominent Tricyrtis hirta cultivar, ‘Miyazaki’, I see no seedlings from this variegated leaf toad lily.
‘Gilt Edge’ is the earliest of the toad lilies in this garden. It’s stems tend to flop a bit, and flowers have slightly less substance so the display does not stand out as much.

And, I’ve moved on, not in my high regard for toad lilies that bring delight to every late summer day, but it is probable that I will purchase no more. Unless, and this distinction must be stated, I become aware of one that is noticeably different and excellent. Then, an exception must be made, and perhaps it is best if we don’t tell my wife.

‘Empress’, I think, is perhaps the best performer with numerous clusters of flowers and a dense, shrubby growth habit. In multiple locations, ‘Empress’ performs best with more sun. In the shade of a low branched redbud, stems flop and flowering is weak. This is my pick for the best if only one toad lily can fit into the garden. It will encourage you to try more.

Note – there are many more toad lilies in the garden than are shown here. ‘Gilt Edge’, above, begins flowering in early August, and is almost finished now. Others are just starting to flower. Judge for yourself if the flowers shown here vary significantly. I see variations in flowers and the growth habit of all of this group, but with some others the differences are minimal.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    It is such a bad habit! It usually starts out well, but then easily gets out of control. That is how my yuccas started. I justified them because they kept the deer away. Then, I procured too many that do not do well here. It made no sense at that point.

    1. Dave says:

      This is my only luxury. Otherwise, I am very tight with my spending. I think of all the foolish things I could waste money on, and I’m comfortable that spending money on plants is not such a bad thing.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        You know, I sort of feel the same way. I sometimes feel guilty. Actually, I often feel guilty. However, it is so much less expensive that what most people do for fun.

  2. The English Gardener says:

    Dave,
    I have never seen a toad lily up close before last week until one was brought to a lecture at my Garden Club. My immediate thoughts went to you as you obviously have a love of these and you talk about them and frequently post photos. Thereby leaving me wondering what on earth do these look like?
    I now understand! To me they appeared as big butterflies whirling about and I must have some. One of the other members also mentioned your collection.
    Because I now mostly visit big box garden center as my two closest Meadows farms garden centers closed down, I don’t see unique plants.
    Where did your original supply of toad lillies come from? Have you ever bought them online?
    Thanks always for the beautiful photos.
    The English Gardner

    1. Dave says:

      I prefer one gallon pots that require less attention, but cultivars are limited except through mailorder growers. I’ve had good success with Far Reaches and Edelweiss nurseries for toad lilies and other out of the ordinary perennials.

      1. The English Gardener says:

        Thank you.
        I will do way more research in terms of their care before I venture into purchase as I also tend to put things where they don’t belong just to fill up spaces and satisfy my need to plant, plant plant.

        The English Gardener

      2. Dave says:

        At least in my experience, toad lilies are one of the easier plants. In a few winters with late freezes early growth in April was killed to the ground. A few weeks later the plants had rebounded completely, with their usual vigor. Part sun and dry soil are the preferred conditions from my observation.

  3. C says:

    I never tire of your posts on Toad Lilies. Although, I am saddened when you report pulling and tossing the excesses into the compost heap.

    These wonderful perennials are an obvious delight for you and a beautiful display to behold.

    Thank you for walking me through your gardens vicariously. Enjoy!

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