As summer gives way to autumn most perennial flowers have come and gone but October's plant of the month is just getting started! Tricyrtis formosana is at its best in September or October (depending on the weather), and it’s striking flowers last well into autumn.
This hardy perennial is a member of the Lily (Liliceae) family. It is native to Taiwan but happily grows in Cambridge’s cooler climate, and their topical look lends itself well to exotic planting schemes and garden designs.
Tall, upright stems support magnificent open clusters of star-shaped flowers. Small white blooms are heavily speckled with purple. These striking flowers resemble orchids due to their fleshy tepals and yellow throats. Glossy, lance-shaped leaves spring from long stems and look good throughout the growing season. Foliage dies back after flowering to reappear in spring.
Their compact spread (45cm) makes Tricyrtis formosana - also known as Toad Lilly - a great choice for city gardens. Plants will naturalize over time to form dense colonies without being invasive. Tricyrtis formosana can easily be propagated by dividing clumps in early spring. Their height (up to 80cm) can add structure to borders and tolerance of shade means they are a perfect way to brighten a courtyard or shady corner. Container planting is also a good option where space is limited. Pots should be large enough for the roots to stay cool and kept moist.
Tricyrtis formosana suits deep or dappled shade and will thrive in well drained hummus-rich soil, so incorporate plenty of compost when planting. As they are fully hardy, these little gems will reappear year after year. Toad lilies are broadly disease free but can be vulnerable to slugs and snails. Minimal maintenance is required – just mulch in winter and your efforts will be rewarded with even more of stunning blooms next year, and for many years to come.
If you have a shady spot you would like to brighten up, treat yourself to a Tricyrtis formosana (or several!) for a pop of colour in your garden this autumn.
If you would like advice on any aspect of landscaping or garden design, please do get in touch.