Toad Lily & Red Spider Lily- Bring the Zoo to the Yard

Just because it’s a garden, which suggests it being cultivated and well organized, doesn’t mean it can’t have a wild and untamed streak at the same time. Of course you don’t need to turn your yard into a jungle, all it takes to get the right vibe is a few plants. The Toad Lily and the Red Spider Lily are definitely the ones you want.

toad lily, Trycirtis hirta

photo by André Karwath

Caring for your Toad Lily:

Trycirtis hirta, known to most of us by the unflattering name Toad Lily, blooms with stunning, orchid-like flowers. Some varieties, the common Toad Lily for example, are decorated with an animalistic pattern- purple, red or brown spots, resembling those of a cheetahs and leopards. This peculiar, natural color design is lost on other types of the plant, but their grace and attractiveness is not.
Being as cute and hardy as they are, these flowers are low maintenance and high reward. The maintenance part includes nothing but choosing a nice place for them, somewhere with partial or full shade, moist, humus-rich soil and a bit of space, since they grow into shrubs that get 1-2 feet wide and 1-3 feet tall, depending on the type. Preferably in hardiness zones 5 through 9. The Toad Lily doesn’t need regular feeding, but a few inches of mulch will help it develop it’s root system faster.

Red Spider Lily,Lycorias radiata

photo by Autumn Snake

Caring for your Spider Lily

Lycorias radiata, or the Red Spider Lily is the other wild thing on our list. In all fairness, there is also a White Spider Lily, but that color simply didn’t fit our title. The name pretty much explains all there is to know about the flowers of the plant, what’s left for us to do is add that their elegant, green foliage grows up to 12-18 inches high.
Here is some Spider Lily trivia. Its bulbs will not treat you nice if ingested, so make sure this doesn’t happen. Other than that, you’ll have no worries with it. Plant it somewhere where it will get full or partial sun, water regularly, but don’t get carried away- it does not take kindly to over watering. As to soil preferences- mildly alkaline, hardiness zones 7 through 9, well-drained, possibly a bit sandy. Propagation is best done through dividing, not seeding. This means that blooms have to be removed as soon as you notice they’ve started fading. The procedure is called deadheading- it saves the Lily from wasting precious energy and if the weather and condition of the plant allow it, it might even bloom again. When the leaves start going yellow, it’s time to dig out and divide the mature bulbs. Give them no less than 9- 12 inches distance. Mix the soil with some bone meal and water generously to kick start the rooting and aid flowering at the new spot. If you’re feeling generous spread an inch-thick layer of rotted manure or compost on top of the Lily bed.
Now that you know how to add a little something passionate and exciting to your garden, we suggest you put on your thinking hat, and start the planning.


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