Monday, October 3rd, 2011...12:00 am

Toad Lily: Flowers that Bloom in the Fall

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Toad_Lilies by zhurnaly

Most people, when they think of flower gardens, think of spring gardens and summer gardens. Fewer people seem to think of fall as a great time for flowers. Maybe this is because with the arrival of fall we know that winter is around the corner and are preparing for the cold weather or are too busy raking leaves to notice the many flowers that are showing off. Or maybe it is because one anticipates and is eager to see the beautiful fall foliage which can be so spectacular that the scene overshadows everything else. Whatever the reason, you are missing out if you do not plant flowers that bloom in the fall.

I love the flowers that are now open in my fall garden. It is not just the chrysanthemums and the asters that are stunning in the fall. There are some lesser known flowers that bloom in the fall with such pretty flowers.  I want to write about a few of the flowers that are favorites of mine.

One really special fall flower that is presently blooming in my garden has the silly common name of Toad Lily. The Latin name is Tricyrtis. This perennial is in the lily family. To read how the plant got the unflattering name of Toad Lilly, read this. This year’s rainy weather has been wonderful for my toad lilies and the floral display is the best I have ever had. When I showed them to my daughter, she thought I had orchids.

Tricyrtis plants like moist, well drained humus rich soil but they are very adaptable to less than ideal conditions. Well established plants will tolerate dry conditions- still it is best to water them during a drought so that they look their best. In drought conditions the leaves will turn yellow or brownish as mine did in the past. This year the leaves, which remind me of Solomon Seal leaves, are nice and green. But you can find types with dark green to golden to variegated leaves. The plants come from Asia where they are found in moist woodland and mountains. They love partial to deep shade conditions. Some types are a few inches tall or some can grow up to 4 ft. tall.  My Toad lily has flowers that open down the stem with the leaves on either side. It is best to plant these plants in the front of the garden border where the flowers can really be seen. Mine are growing near the front edge but behind some Celandine Poppies. When the Celandine poppies are at their best but there are no flowers on the Toad lily, the Celandine poppy is the show off plant. Then in the fall, I cut back the dying leaves of the Celandine Poppies to let the Toad lilies show off.

Depending on the species of toad lily, these lovely flowers can be grown in US Temperature Hardiness zones 4 through 9. They need little care and seem to have no pests bothering them, though I did read that slugs might enjoy them. With all the rain this summer and fall, I have not seen any slugs in their vicinity in my garden.  Read this.  I bought mine as plants but Toad lilies can also be started from seeds or are easy to propagate by cuttings. They root at the nodes, so be sure that your cuttings have at least one node.

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