Toad lilies

Three toad lilies (Tricyrtis, of unknown variety, as is so often the case in these parts), planted in ground that proved to be too damp, were recently transplanted to drier and sunnier spots. One was single stemmed and quite tall, the second clearly a dwarf, with the third in between. I presume that I will see improved growth and first blooms next year, but that is, if these recover from being chewed to the ground the first night by deer. In fact, I cannot tell with certainty that deer were the culprits since I’ve recently witnessed damage that could not be done by a beast so large, so perhaps rabbits, that have rarely been a nuisance. A repellent is sprayed that should discourage creatures of any size, but the three tiny toad lilies were in an area that deer steer clear of, so they had not been treated.

Tricyrtis ohsumiensis

The roots were good on the three, so I expect these will survive, despite the loss of all foliage. Maybe a leaf or two will pop out before frost, but there’s no way I’ll see a bloom or enough that will help identify any of the three.

Tricyrtis hirta Miyazaki

The remainder of the garden’s toad lilies are growing with vigor, though several bordering the driveway have been sunburned more than I prefer. They’re just starting to flower, but the leaves are pretty shabby. In shade, toad lilies grow a bit too loose, so the preferred positioning is sunlight the first half of the day and afternoon shade. And if you haven’t grown toad lilies, be warned, they grow much taller than you expect. Not the first year, but after a few many will grow three feet tall or so, and about as wide.

Tricyrtis hirta Lightning Strike

In an area with less sun I once cut leggy growth back by a third in midsummer, but that area’s now so overgrown that the tall growth barely rises above ferns that volunteered as neighbors. Part shade or sun doesn’t seem to make much difference in the number of blooms, but the stems are sturdier with more sun.

As for collecting every available variety, I started down that path, but stopped, even though prices through specialty mail order growers are often quite reasonable (for toad lilies, that is). The more I planted, the more I was convinced that the differences between one and the next were not much after the first eight or ten varieties. Toad lilies are one of the treasures of this garden, but after a dozen or so I didn’t find much purpose in going after more.

Too large to to fit beneath anthers of the the toad lily’s flower, bumblebees circle the bloom, piercing through the petals to “steal” nectar.
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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Martha Worley says:

    Dave, what repellent are you using to discourage small animals.

    1. Dave says:

      I use Bobbex, but I’ve sprayed Deer Away (or Deer Off, I can’t remember) with the same effectiveness. In alternate months I add a pepper sauce to change the scent, so deer don’t become accustomed to only one.

  2. Jean says:

    Love these toadlilies. Thanks to you I was inspired to grow these. I should get more yellow ones in my VA garden. Currently the pollinators are busy in the patch they share with cardinal flowers and mountain mint.
    I have never seen them grow in Maine, although it says zone 3 to 8 on most. Wondering if it is worth it to take some to my Maine garden this fall…any idea?

  3. Dave says:

    If the cold hardiness is right there’s no reason it won’t work. As a general rule, the further north the more sun a plant will tolerate.

  4. Jean says:

    Good point. I did plant mint which was invasive here in the shade. I found out it was a full sun plant after it did not thrive up there.

  5. Candace Kiman says:

    Don’t have a deer problem but the rabbits are voracious. Toad Lilies are candy to them. So much so I had to put them in a large pot, half whisky barrel size, Disguised them with annual growth that the rabbits don’t eat and they’re doing just fine without any spray.

    1. Dave says:

      Almost certainly rabbits cut to the ground the variegated leaf Lightning Strike toad lily that is tucked beside stone steps by the deck. Never before, but now I’m aware that no place is safe.

  6. tonytomeo says:

    Toad lilies are one of those things that I ignore in catalogues. However, because those who grow them seem to enjoy them, they are getting my attention. If I were to procure some, they would need to be straight species through, rather than the cultivars from catalogues. What we know as toad lilies are not related.

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