Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium superbum)- How to Grow the Best Lilies


Turk’s cap lily, Lilium superbum, bears pendulous flowers that attract butterflies. Everyone wants to grow the best lilies they can. Turk’s cap lily facts and tips are given to help you grow and care for this upright perennial that is often used in containers, woodland gardens and as border plants.

"Turk's Cap Lily"

Turk's cap lilies in many colors

Facts and Information

These unique lilies grow in Zones 3-8 and reaches heights of 4-10 ft. Tall by 4-6” wide. The Lilium superbum typically prefers full sun or light aftenoon shade and fertile, moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0.

Turk's cap lily Flowers: Pendulous recurved orange flowers appear in mid-to late summer. Flowers have burgundy spots and are green-splashed near the base. Mid to bright green leaves appear in whorls on purple-stained green stems. An abundance of flowers with recureved petals nooding well above the foliage ensures the popularity of these lilies.

The flowers attract butterflies and should be placed in large swaehes at the edge of a bright woodland, in odd-numbered groupings in the border, or in containers. Good container companions include the chartreuse-leaved sweet potato and the black-leaved ‘blackie’ sweet potato, ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis, and ‘Corries Gold’ gaura.

Turk’s Cap Lily Plant Care

Plants should be 6-12” apart and two to three times deeper than their diameter in spring or fall in fertile soil high in organic matter. To increase organic matter, add 1-2” of composted food and leaf waste, composted animal manure, mushroom compost, peat moss, or bagged humus to the planting bed then till in to a depth of 12-15”. Add food at the time of planting. Apply 3” of vegetative mulch in summer and winter to reduce weed seed germination, retain soil moisture, and keep soil temperatures stable. Water deeply when the soil begins to dry. Remove flowers when they fade to reduce set. Take as little stem as possible with cut flowers. Allow the folliage to die back naturally after blooms fade.

Tip: For winter protection from cold, insulate lilies with evergreen boughs.

Propagation: In spring dig down to the bulb and gently pull off the largest of the small bulbs that are attached to the main bulb. Re-cover the main bulb and plant plantlets in prepared soil 12” away from other plants. Water deeply and apply 3” of vegetative mulch.

Tip: Cut back lily foliage in the fall if it has not died back naturally.

Pests and Diseases: Diseases include botrytis and viruses. Slugs and snails may feed on foliage, and deer, rabbits, and groundhogs may eat top growth.

"Lilium Superbum"

Gorgeous Lilium martagon

What Species are Related to Turk’s Cap Lilies?

Asiatic and Oriental hybrids bear scented flowers in summer. ‘Casa Blanca’ bears large, fragrant white flowers in mid- to late summer, and ‘Star Gazer’ has star-shaped pinkish-red flowers with dark red spots in early summer. Both add beauty to container plantings as well as the border. Aurelian hybrid lilies (L. xaurelianense) are crosses between L. Benryi and L. Sargentiae, some popular cultivars include ‘Black Beauty’, a deep crimson flower with recurved petals and ‘Pink Perfection’, with trumpet-shaped pink flowers. Martagon Lily ( Lilium martagon) is also known as Turk’s cap lily for its nodding reddish-purple  blooms borne on plants 4-6’ tall.

Tip: Plucking the anthers from a white lily keeps the pollen from staining the bloom.

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