Fox-tailed Lily – Eremurus

Though never an inexpensive plant, the Fox-tailed Lilies should be more widely grown, for in all but the coldest and heaviest of soils, they are quite hardy. Several of the species are very fragrant and a number are excellent for cutting, for some decoration or for shop sale where they meet with a ready demand for summer functions. The flowering period is from mid-May until early August and growing from to in. to to ft. in height, they make most valuable border plants.

PLANTING

Those with favourably situated gardens will find no trouble in their cultivation. They like some sand in the soil and some humus. Peat, I find, suits them better than anything, but a little cow manure, as the gardeners of old suggested, helps them along admirably. The plants when established hate disturbance and so require a clean, deeply worked soil, and most important, a position sheltered from strong winds. Fox-tailed Lily - Eremurus

They bloom to perfection when planted in a shrub border but where they can obtain plenty of sunshine and will, at the same time, receive some protection from nearby shrubs. The spider-like tuberous roots are best planted during late March, which appears to be the best time for planting most tuberous-rooted plants.

The best effect is obtained when two roots are planted together 18 in. apart. The roots are spread out into a shallow hole and here I pass on the profit of my experience with this plant. If the crown is deeply buried, it may rot away if a rainy period is experienced before the plant is fully established. The crown should in fact be barely below soil-level – if the soil contains much clay, do not cover the crown. Round it press in some silver sand to help drainage.

March is the best month for lifting and dividing the roots, but this should not be done for at least five years, an established plant often bearing up to a dozen spikes as long as one’s arm and carried on stems up to to ft. in length – a marvellous sight in the shrubbery – especially in the twilight of a summer’s evening.

During the winter the plants should receive some protection by heaping over the crowns some peat and sand, or if the foliage does not die down quickly, fronds of bracken will be equally as effective.

When the new season’s growth commences, care must be taken to see that slugs do not become a nuisance to the plants and the new liquid slug exterminator should be used where necessary. I have found that if ashes or sand are placed over and around the roots during winter, protection is not only given the plant, but it will be a deterrent to slugs.

SPECIES

  • Eremurus bungei. A dwarf-growing variety and producing a spike of golden yellow throughout June.
  • E. Elivesii. This is a superb plant bearing a rich shell pink flowering spike from mid-May. Remaining long in bloom it is an ideal cut flower.
  • E. himalaieus. A truly magnificent May- and June-flowering species producing its thousands of white star-like blooms on stems often reaching to a height of to ft.
  • E. Olgae. This is a fragrant late June- and July-flowering species producing bloom of a pale apricot pink on 4-ft. Stems.
  • E. robustus. The hardiest and most easily grown form of very graceful habit. The foliage is grey-green and the flower spikes thick and of a rich pink shade.

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