Toad lily, Tricyrtis hirta, is an unusual perennial having exotic flowers that resemble those of an orchid. The toad lily is often used in borders, woodland gardens, and containers. Find toad lily facts and information, and learn how to grow and care for this unusual plant in the genus, Tricyrtis.
Toad Lily Facts
The toad lily, a member of the lily family, has an upright form that grows 36” high by 24” wide, and is deer resistant. It grows in Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Plant the toad lily where it gets partial to full sun and is planted in fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Many varieties will grow in shade so be sure to read the description for each variety.
The plant has funnel-shaped white flowers with purple specks that appear in late summer. The leaves are lattice shaped, and a pale green color and is somewhat hairy. The toad lily plant is attractive to gardeners who collect the unusual types of plants.
Toad lilies look best when they are planted in odd-numbered groups in a shaded border or woodland garden. They do well as container plantings either by itself or with other plants. Good companion plants include lady’s mantle, heart-leaf brunnera, and ‘Elegans’ Siebold hosta, or ‘Gold Standard’ hosta. The toad lily plant can be planted close to a gazebo to add plant texture, or for simply landscaping around your gazebo.
Growing Toad Lily Plants
Toad lilies should be planted 12-24” apart in spring or autumn in fertile soil high in organic matter. To increase the organic matter, add 1-2” of compost, peat moss, or bagged humus to the planting bed, then till the soil to a depth of 12-15”. Keep this plant moist and try to not let it get dried out.
You can apply a slow-release granular fertilizer, but stop feeding 6-8 weeks before the arrival of the first frost date. Apply 3” of vegetative mulch in summer and winter to reduce weed seed germination, to retain moisture, and to keep soil temperatures stable. Water deeply when the soil feels dry 2” below the surface. Prune the toad lily plant back in fall once frost withers the foliage.
Propagation of the toad lily can be done by dividing in early spring while plants are dormant. The plants will self-seed into the landscape.
Pests and disease are fairly nonexistent as long as the plant gets the basic cultural needs met. You might occasionally find snails and slugs to be bothersome.
Species and Varieties of toad lily:
- ‘Alba’ has white flowers.
- ‘Miyazaki’ bears white flowers spotted with lilac.
- ‘Miyazaki Gold’ has leaves edged in gold.
- ‘White Towers’ has white flowers in the leaf axils.
- Tricyrtis formosana, the Formosa toad lily, is hardy in Zones 4-9, and reaches 36” high and 18” wide. It has attractive unusual star-shaped pinkish-purple or white flowers that appear in late summer. It also has lightly hairy stems and glossy deep green leaves, sometimes spotted with purple.
- ‘Amethystina’ is a cultivar that bears amethyst blue and white flowers speckled in yellow and maroon.
- Toad lily Blue Wonder has petals that are a powder blue and has spots of royal blue. It blooms in fall and late summer.
- Tricyrtis latifolia, Toad Lily Yellow Sunrise, has yellow flowers splashed with brown specks. It also blooms in fall or late summer.
- Tricyrtis f. 'Gilt Edge' has flowers a pink-purple with very speckled. It has large, glossy leaves and blooms in late summer to fall.
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