Monday, May 18, 2015

Gazing at Stars

If you want one of the most easy, fragrant and beautiful garden flowers up to Zone 4a, get a bunch of Stargazer lily bulbs.

Stargazer lilies are an Oriental lily officially called "Lilium "Stargazer" and was hybridized by Leslie Woodriff in 1978.  

The pink, red and white six inch blooms are freckled and highly fragrant on three foot scapes (stems.)  The intensity of the pink will be different by location, year, weather, age of the bulb and who supplies the bulbs.  They are sometimes outlined in white.  By "highly fragrant", they mean HIGHLY fragrant.  It's a strong intense and very sweet fragrance.  It will perfume your yard for a good twelve feet from the flowers.  

The flowers are up-facing and the advantage is they show their coloring.  Some orientals and trumpets face downward and it's difficult to enjoy their beauty.  

They're toxic to cats but I've never had my cats get interested even when they're in a bouquet let alone on those high stems.  All cats are different so you've been warned. 

Stargazer is a long lasting cut flower and often used by professional florists.  Cut a flower before it totally opens.  

The bulbs are not terribly expensive and since Orientals don't last forever, you may want to plant a batch every few years to keep them going.  Plus, the more the better!  I've had batches last over twenty years.

They bloom in late summer.  Plant where other perennials will hold up their stems or stake/tie them.  The flowers are heavy especially if there are several on a stem.  In an exposed (windy) location with no support, they will flop over and not only ruin the Stargazers but anything they crush under them.

The more expensive bulbs will be stronger and last longer than cheaper big box store lilies.  Having said that, you'll have lilies no matter how much you choose to spend.  

I suggest planting several in an area rather than one or in a straight line.  Oriental lilies look best if they're in a more casual setting.  Plant near your porch/deck and they will perfume the air into the night.  Tuck one into your hair and it will look beautiful and you won't need to wear any perfume.  Don't wear in your hair if bees are out - they'll love you way too much.

Plant in full sun.  Seldom needs extra watering in the Midwest.  Follow package directions for depth.  I'm sure they would do best in perfect soil but mine do fine in mostly clay although they don't stand in water (which will rot the bulbs.)

I recommend Stargazer lilies and once you've added them to your garden you will, too.       

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