HOW TO GROW
intentions are to make a big bold statement in the garden, then you
can't possibly do better than growing the magnificent Eremurus. This
tall, statuesque, aristocratic plant belongs to a group that
consists of 35 to 40 deciduous perennials whose rhizomatous roots
have strange, finger-like shape, thick and fleshy they fan out in
all directions from a central hub.
These hardy perennials are native to western and
central Asia. They are commonly known as Foxtail Lilies, King's
Spears, Desert Candles and Giant Asphodels. In late spring or early
summer, compact spikes of tiny snow white, pastel pink, copper,
bright yellow or orange flowers form a long flower spike which can
grow 10 ft. (3.5m) above the foliage, dependant on the variety of
course and blooming from the bottom up. These bottlebrush-shaped
flower spikes can last several weeks, and make long lasting cut
flowers. Foxtail Lilies produce tufts of slender, strap-like, bright
My first ever sighting of this plant was several
years ago during a visit to Cornwall. They were growing in the
garden of a delightful black and white house with a thatched roof.
Here was probably one of the most beautiful cottage gardens that I
have ever seen, but for me it was the tall, majestic Eremurus who
stole the show towering as they did at the rear of the walled
garden. I made my mind up there and then that I would include these
plants in my own garden and so I have enjoyed their summer flowers
PLANTING: Foxtail Lilies are fully to frost hardy. They
should be planted in a sunny, warm, sheltered area to protect
against strong winds; they rarely need staking when they are given
shelter. Choose the position carefully as Eremurus resents being
disturbed, do not divide or transplant it unless absolutely
necessary. They need winter cold to flower, they can be grown in
ordinary, acid to neutral soil; it must be well-drained, but loamy
soil that is enriched with peat, well-rotted manure and plenty of
sharp sand added is the best. They should be planted in early autumn
and never allowed to dry out. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate
setting the crown on a mound of soil in the base of the hole.
The roots should be spread gently on top of the
mound so that they are not crowded. The crowns should be placed 4 to
6 in. (10cm-15cm) below the surface. Protect the crowns with a mulch
of dry straw or bracken in early winter. In the spring, they usually
begin to grow before the frosts are gone and therefore could be
damaged. To prevent this, cover the shoots at night until the
weather is safe with an up turned, wooden box or a large plant pot,
containing straw, until the weather is safe for them to be
unprotected. This should only continue until the threat of frost are
gone, otherwise it might encourage the new growth to rot.
When the foliage dies down in the summer, mark the plant's position
to avoid damaging them while they are dormant. Keep a watchful eye
out for slugs, these greedy pests love the new growth and so keep
beer traps or one of the new organic slug control treatments at the
PROPAGATION: Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the
autumn in pots or trays in a cold frame. Germination is slow and
could take 1 - 12 months at 15°c. Prick out the seedlings into
individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow
on for their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out into their
permanent positions in late spring after the last expected frosts.
Do not plant deeply in the soil; the crown of the plant should be
slightly exposed. Division after the plant dies down in late summer.
Great care must be taken because the plants resent root any form of
DIVISION: Increase Foxtail Lilies by lifting and dividing old
plants when their crowns grow up and out of the soil. Only divide
the plants when it is really necessary, and no more frequently than
once every 6 years. Take care when lifting and dividing the roots
because they are very brittle.
SPECIES & VARIETIES:
Eremurus: (The Ruiter and Shelford hybrids.) The height
of these hybrids lies in the middle range for Eremurus - 40 inches
(100 cm.). Flower colours are gorgeous pastels of salmon, yellow and
orange. Certain cultivars display striking colour combinations. One,
'Cleopatra' (1956), is orange with a stunning dark vein. 'Pinocchio'
(1989) is lemon yellow with bright orange stamens. Flowering occurs
Eremurus Bungei: This is one of the middle height groups
of the Eremurus species 4 ft. (120m). Flowers start appearing in
June and are golden yellow in colour. This small species is found in
Afghanistan and Kurdistan.
Eremurus Robustus: Specimens may reach 10 ft. (3m.). The
flower cluster itself is over 40 in. (100 cm.) tall and consists of
700 - 800 soft pink flowers, which bloom in June. Leaves blue-green,
Eremurus Himalaicus: This is a large, white flowering
species growing up to 6 ft. (2m.) tall with flower clusters
measuring up to 36 in. (90 cm.) in length.
Eremurus Stenophyllus: Flowers in racemes, yellow,
fading to orange in midsummer. This lovely plant grows to 3 ft.
©MrsGreenFingers.co.uk 2005 No Unauthorised Distribution in full or
in part without express written permission.