Lilium pardalinum can reach heights of 6 feet and they are hardy to zone 5. They usually flower in July, with seeds ripening from August to September. But this year…our early spring has produced an early flowering of late May at the botanical garden. The flowers are hermaphrodite, having both male and female organs, and are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and sometimes horticulturists.
This plant is rhizomatous, and forms clumps. They increase rapidly by division, for example; each bulb may produce 5 new bulbs per year. Early to mid autumn is the best time to plant out the bulbs in cool temperate areas, in warmer areas they can be planted out during late autumn. The plant should be protected against rabbits and slugs in early spring. If the shoot tips are eaten out the bulb will not grow in that year and will lose vigor. This lily is also a very variable plant; it is divided into a number of sub-species.
If you happen to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden during the first week of June this year, look for the Leopard Lily in the bulb garden. It’s truly a sight to behold!
--By Lynn Slackman