Foxtail Lilies - (Eremurus) Planting Guide
Tall and Dramatic The common names of this plant, foxtail lilies and desert candles, describe the appearance of the flower spikes, bushy like the animal's tail, and the preferred types of environments, sunny and dry. These names are often more easily remember than the botanical one, eremurus. Whatever you call these tall, dramatic perennials, they are outstanding plants for warm weather gardens. Guaranteed to prompt "Wooooow! What are those?" responses.
Moderate; Low in dormancy
Spring through Summer
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- Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3" to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. While foxtail lilies aren't fussy about soil, they will not survive in soggy soil or standing water.
- Site your foxtail lilies where they will receive full sun. These plants will grow in light shade but develop much stronger stems in bright sunlight. Also consider wind, especially for the tallest varieites. Choosing a site with protection from strong winds increases the liklihood that you'll be able to enjoy the majestic flower spikes for as long as possible every blooming season.
- Your eremurus will be shipped as fleshy, starfish shaped roots. This just means that the soil has been washed from the roots, so you won't risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plant is lighter and cleaner to ship. Gently tuck your eremurus roots into a hole that is 6 to 8" deep and 10-12" across, fanning them out and pointing them slightly downwards. Space plants about 2 feet apart. Plant carefully as the roots can break if not handled gently.
- After planting, water well, gently soaking the soil and settling it around the roots. Root growth will begin in the fall. Top growth may also develop in autumn if you live in a warm region. More substantial top growth and flower stems will form in the spring.
- When in bloom, feel free to cut the dramatic, long lasting flower stalks for striking bouquets. Here's your chance to use that gorgeous, tall vase you were given as a gift!
- After blooming has finished for the season feel free to trim off the flower spikes but leave the foliage in place. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods, about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate. Keep in mind that weekly deep waterings are better than lighter drinks every day or two
- By mid summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be removed at this point. Marking the spot with a small stake is recommended to ensure that the roots are not disturbed. Fresh growth will appear again in late fall or spring, depending on the zone where you gardening cycle.
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