A constant object of desire: Foxtail lily (Eremurus)

This isn’t a post so much as a mash note to the foxtail lily aka desert candle (Eremurus spp). Love isn’t strong enough a word. My recent Garden Bloggers Fling trip to Denver, Colorado, technically in the same planting zone as Toronto, made me fall all over again, and again, and again.

Rather than “constant,” think “elusive.” The aka should give you a hint: desert candle implies the well-drained soil (which I have) and baking sun (which I sure don’t) these gorgeous tuberous plants need, along with a good feeding.

Imagine this as the soft-light shot in a romantic movie. Yes, it’s love!

They’re hardy to USDA Zone 5 – that’s Toronto, or Zone 6 in Canadian. But have a look at our post which shows them growing profusely at Larkwhistle, in Canadian Zone 4. Consistent snow cover there might have been the secret. Or heavy winter mulching? Wish I could ask Patrick Lima, but since 2013 Larkwhistle is no longer open to visitors.

Cursor over the gallery above to read the captions. Or click any image for the (sadly, uncaptioned) slideshow.

Massed, these yellow foxtail lilies would look even more amazing once the swath of blue Perovskia planted in front comes into bloom. I wonder if they will last?
One last fond look before we bid farewell. Or, with luck, just au revoir?

Now that you’ve fallen in love with the pictures, for in-depth history and cultural info, zip over to these articles by bulb guru Dugald Cameron on the Toronto Botanical Garden site, or this one from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Please let me know if it inspires you to grow them, and if you succeed. I love playing matchmaker.


    1. Yes, we’re really doomed in Old Toronto near the lake with our totally bare soil in otherwise-Arctic January. That’s why “zone” guides can be so misleading. Topic for a post, I’ve been thinking.

    1. There was a lot of repetition in plant materials between gardens in Denver, so it would be hard to choose between “Fling Flowers” for 2019. But Eremurus sure does turn on the drama and romance!

  1. I planted Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’ last year and they were stunning! The foliage is reappearing in my zone 4 Quebec garden so I’m hopeful they will bloom, multiply and continue to be as gorgeous as they are. Yes, love at first sight. At second sight, too.

    1. You’re confirming my suspicion that winter snow cover is part of the secret for growing Eremurus in northern gardens, Pat. I hope your display continues to impress.

  2. I love the flowers, but can’t tolerate the dying foliage that accompanies them, at least in my garden. Not that I had lasting success, just a single year’s beauty and then poof! They were gone…

    1. I have the same feeling about Allium foliage. And tulips, for that matter. Still trying to figure out how to balance that love-hate relationship with some form of disguise. Sadly, Eremurus is a plant in my overstuffed graveyard of desires.

  3. There’s Eremurus growing at the Chicago Botanic Garden, though I thought they were taken inside for the winter. Certainly is a stunning plant.

    1. Thanks for letting us know, Kathy. I’ll have a look at the image sizes to see what’s going on.

      1. Hi, Kathy, I’ve reviewed the images on the post, and they’re all teeny-tiny, so perhaps it was a reception problem on the day you visited? Give it another go, and please let me know if the problem recurs.

  4. The Eremurus of Denver inspired me! I was so taken with them at the DBG that I could not tear myself (& camera) away. I got a little obsessed! This is a lovely post about them. You are right–they are romantic. Hadn’t thought about them like that before.

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