The perplexing yellow toad lily

While toad lilies (Tricyrtis) grow like weeds in this garden, with numerous seedlings and some requiring transplanting to avoid overcrowding, I am continually disappointed that yellow flowered cultivars have not survived more than a year, and occasionally weakly into a second. Certainly, this is not for lack of trying.

While yellow flowered toad lilies are far from the only plant to fail, or to fail more than once in this garden, I am confounded that an otherwise vigorous perennial should be more fragile due only to flower color. Very likely, the culprit to blame in these failures is me, despite pledging with each loss that the next would be given preferential positioning.

Undermining each pledge was my near certainty that toad lilies are tough enough to tolerate my neglect, so there is little doubt that I did nothing besides provide a location that seemed well suited to any toad lily. The first plantings of common cultivars were puchased from the garden center in one gallon containers, and with a larger pot of roots there was never a problem. More unusual types have been purchased by mail order from specialty nurseries, and while I appreciate their efforts to offer out of the ordinary plants, the smaller two and three inch pots are not well suited to my lack of attention after planting. But, I am compelled to try again, possibly for the last time. 

So, another order has been placed to arrive in mid September. I’ve planned the spot for planting in part sun, with shading from the late afternoon heat, and before the new toad lilies are planted I’ll work a bit more on soil preparation than in the past. I suspect that the failed toad lilies were planted into any old soil, which is fine for long term survival, but possibly a problem if they’re allowed to dry out soon after planting. By working in some extra compost, I hope to make the soil more moisture retentive, and with cooler temperatures in September the situation should be as ideal as I can make it. 

Can I survive without the yellow flowered toad lilies? Of course, but I’ve enjoyed considerable success with other toad lilies, including a handful or two that are not common varieties. All flower for extended periods in late summer, with flowers of several extending until the first frosts of early autumn. I’m delighted to try again with a few yellow flowered toad lilies.

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