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Lilium lancifolium – Tiger Lily

Tiger lily, Lilium lancifolium, is a bulb that blooms mid to late summer, later than most lilies.

The dramatic orange flowers tend to face downward when open, but the effect is charming. The striking, curved petals are actually tepals. Tiger lilies are dramatic in the mid-summer garden and very easy to grow. Many gardeners stake tiger lilies, but I wouldn’t bother. The stems are robust. You’ll need well-drained soil that retains good moisture. Other than that, Lilium lancifolium is carefree, multiplying year after year.

Tiger lilies are often confused with tawny daylily, Hemerocallis fulva. The species shown here is the true tiger lily. Like tawny daylily, tiger lilies have naturalized throughout parts of North America. There is considerable disagreement as to whether tiger lilies are an ecological threat.

Tiger lilies grow three to four feet tall. There is a cultivar, ‘Splendens’ that grows a little shorter, with larger flowers. I’d grow tiger lilies in the back of the border, as there is not much happening below the flowers. It is native to China and Japan. Typical of most of the Asiatic lilies, Lilium lancifolium tends to be stiff and somewhat sprawling in appearance.

Plant tiger lilies in spring or fall in mass for an impressive display. I’ve been told that serious lily collectors tend to stay away from tiger lilies because they are host to lily mosaic, a virus which can potentially harm other lily species. The tell-tale sign of lily mosaic is streaked leaves. If you do choose to plant tiger lilies in your garden with other lilies, the recommended safe distance is 100 feet.

Tiger lily (and many daylilies by the way) is toxic to dogs and cats.

Dogs tend to shake it off without a visit to the vet, but cats are especially prone to poisoning from tiger lilies. Feline kidney failure is a serious condition, so perhaps leave tiger lilies out of the garden if you are a cat lover. What happens apparently is that our felines lick the pollen off their fur and thus are poisoned.

Genus/speciesLilium lancifolium syn. Lilium tigrinum
Common name(s)tiger lily, lance-leaved lily
Of notethe most deer resistant lily, mildly poisonous to dogs – toxic to cats, easy to grow in well-drained soil – not suited for xeric gardens
Fall colorinsignificant
Water requirementsaverage
Soil qualitywell-drained, average
Suggested use(s)cottage gardens, mixed borders/perennial beds
Hardiness zone(s)3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
Typeherbaceous perennial
Deer resistantyes
Deciduous or evergreendeciduous
Flower colororange
Bloom periodsummer
Exposurefull sun, afternoon shade

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