Finally, a final update


Toad lilyI suspect that family and  friends (and readers?) possibly grow weary as this impassioned gardener prattles on about one plant collection or another. Certainly, others cannot be expected to share this enthusiasm, but with the garden moving into autumn, with frost soon approaching, the gardener is compelled to offer one final update on his assemblage of toad lilies (Tricyrtis). Weeks, then months go by, still they are flowering, and any poor soul who will listen must be preached to. If a gardener cares at all for autumn blooms, toad lilies cannot be lived without.Toad lily

First blooms of ‘Gilt Edge’ arrived by mid August, with others flowering close behind. As mid October approaches only a few have faded from bloom, and several are now at their peak with buds that will continue to open for weeks until frost calls an end to this procession. Autumn flowering azaleas and camellias are not likely to suffer in a light frost, but flowers and foliage of toad lilies decline overnight. If frost arrives in the next few days as predicted, this will be the last you will hear about them until late summer next year.Miyazaki toad lily

With a collection that numbers fifteen or twenty cultivars (I’ve lost track), I can state with assurance that ones commonly found in garden centers (if they are found at all) are the best, most floriferous, and with a form that is more compact and least likely to flop. ‘Sinonome’, ‘Empress’, ‘Blue Wonder’, and ‘Miyazaki’ (above) should be adequate choices to please any but those kooks who must have one of everything no matter that ones less common also have fewer outstanding qualities. It will surprise no one who reads these pages that I am overjoyed by ones not listed above, no matter that they flop, or that they grow tall and spindly. Each toad lily, common or not, is prized, and though I hesitate to recommend Tricyrtis latifolia ex. Sichuan 1735 (below), I marvel each time I see it (everyday).Tricyrtis latifolia ex. Sichuan #1735

Though they barely survived into a second year, and have yet to show signs that they will thrive, I rejoice that two yellow flowered toad lilies flowered several weeks ago after several prior failures. Other newcomers, planted a year ago and earlier this year, have managed nicely, and in another year I have little doubt I’ll be researching which is which so they can be featured as I wear patience thin once again.Toad lily


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Dodge says:

    great shots Dave! Did the S. gracilistyla ever show any variegation? Mine didn’t!

    1. Dave says:

      No, no variegation. I’ve occasionally joked with people who didn’t know any better that a tree with no leaves (that was obviously dead) sometimes leafs out every other year. Perhaps this is nature’s joke on me. I am certain that it was variegated some time in recent years. It doesn’t seem possible that the entire shrub would revert so quickly, and reversion would be on new branches. So, I don’t know, maybe next year. I hope all is well with you.

  2. dleetempl says:

    They are my favorite late season plant. Yours are stunning. Mine are coming into their own too, now commanding a huge swath of frontal garden near the entrance. One is variegated so the combo is absolutely delightful and gives my visitors a nice welcoming sight.
    Donna Carpenter – Culpeper

    1. Dave says:

      ‘Samurai’ is the most common of the variegated cultivars, and it is an excellent performer with abundant flowers and superb foliage. It grows on stiff stems that rarely flop, and it should have been included as one on the mainstays. I also grow ‘Lightning Strike’, and it should be widely grown. A few other variegated types are excellent plants, but better suited to collections who will overlook a fault or two.

  3. Jean Louis says:

    Dave these are beautiful pictures. I have noticed that your leaves get brown and spotted from some bug or fungus like mine do on my toad lilies. I don’t spray but any idea what it is? Maybe wilt in my case as I am next to a creek behind 7 corners in Falls Church. Forgive me if I asked you this already, and why are they so floppy? Any ideas, or is that the natural growth? TIA

    1. Dave says:

      Brown patches on foliage on toad lilies in my garden are a result of a lack of irrigation through the dry late summer. While toad lilies are commonly recommended for shade I find they grow more compactly, and with less flopping in more sun. A slight amount of shade is beneficial in preventing leaves from browning, but then the stems lean severely towards the sun.

      I suspect that toad lilies would benefit from pruning back by half in mid summer. I did this once several years ago, for a reason I don’t recall, and as I remember the plants grew a bit shorter and fuller. It might have delayed flowering slightly, but not enough to worry about. I probably should do this to all the toad lilies in late June, early July, but the problem is not too bothersome, so I’ve not done it again.

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