The Q&A Archives: toad lilly

Question: I need any info on the toad lilly. My father passed away in may and that was his favorite flower. We want to plant it by his headstone. Any suggestions. Please Help

Answer: With all the toad lily species and cultivars out there I really wish there was a good, accurate book devoted solely to Tricyrtis. In the meantime I will try to provide what information I can about a few of the more common, hardy species in cultivation.

Tricyrtis formosana, Formosa toad lily. 2 - 4'. These toad lilies have shiny, dark green leaves and upright stems with flowers near the terminal. The fall blooms are mauve with purple-brown spots. 'Alba' is white with purple spots. Zones 5 - 9. Note: There is quite a bit of discrepancy between different sources as to whether or not Tricyrtis formosana and Tricyrtis formosana stolonifera are the same plant. Some say that Tricyrtis f. stolonifera is more robust and hardy than the species. Others say there is no difference.

Tricyrtis hirta, hairy toad lily. 2 - 3'. The hairy toad lily differs from formosana in that it is less upright, growing more in an arch, and has larger flowers that appear at the leaf axils. Zones 4 - 8.

Tricyrtis 'Tricolor' is an exciting plant with pink, cream, and green, glossy foliage in the spring changing to green and cream as the season progresses. It has small, purple spotted flowers at the terminals. Plants look best in the spring and are best placed where they will not be noticed if they burn or go dormant late in the season. Give them lots of shade and plenty of moisture. Zones 5 - 7.

Tricyrtis 'Tojen', 'Togen', 'Togan' is a vigorous, tall growing plant with large, lavender tipped, white flowers appearing at the terminal growth. The flowers are not spotted like other toad lilies. Zones 5 - 9.

Tricyrtis 'Miyazaki' is very similar to Tricyrtis hirta but has more compact growth. Zones 4 - 8.

Tricyrtis 'Samurai' has variegated foliage with a gold margin and purple flowers with darker spots. Zones 6 - 9.

Tricyrtis 'Empress' is a Tricyrtis formosana hybrid with much larger flowers than the species and many dark purple spots and dark purple mottling in the flower. The flower coloration of this particular cultivar may be caused by a virus. Zones 5 - 9.

Tricyrtis 'Raspberry Mousse' is a virus infected selection of Tricyrtis hirta.

Tricyrtis 'Dark Beauty' is an especially tall variety, easily reaching 4 feet or more, with dark purple spots and mottling on cream flowers. This variety may get its flower coloration from a virus.

How to Grow: Plant toad lilies in humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil in part to full shade. In northern areas give plants a southern exposure to ensure they break dormancy early enough to bloom before frost. Divide plants in spring.

Toad lilies add an exotic feel to the garden in late summer, early fall, when not many other plants are blooming, let alone in the shade. The blooms are best appreciated close up, so plant them along a path or make sure there is a diversion to lead you to them. Combine them with hostas, ferns, fall crocus, and fall blooming Colchicum.

Hope this answers all your questions!

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