Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Better Than Stargazer

Everyone loves Stargazer lilies with their showy red and white flowers that stand out on deep green stalks. And their fragrance is sublime! One Stargazer lily will perfume an entire house.

But Stargazer and other Oriental lilies do not thrive in hot St. Louis gardens. Their favored climate is their native Chinese mountains where bright sunshine and cool weather dominates. In our hot, humid summer climate, they die out quickly.

Lilium 'Anastasia'
Lily breeders have chosen genes from Stargazer and other Oriental lilies to use in their breeding programs, capturing some of our favorite characteristics. Their hybrid lilies, Oriental-Trumpets, have the best of both lily divisions. Trumpet lilies tolerate and even thrive in St. Louis summers, returning to bloom year after year. This growth characteristic, combined with the color and fragrance of Oriental lilies, results in plants that are better than Stargazers for St. Louis gardens.

Varieties of Oriental-Trumpets (called Orienpets or OT’s in the lily trade) that have the wonderful red & white colors as well as noticeable fragrance are:

Anastasia –always at the top of the Popularity Poll of the North American Lily Society, this OT lily has big open flowers made up of white petals with red stripes. Reliable in St. Louis, it grows to 5’ tall, blooming in July.

Lilium 'Flashpoint'
Flashpoint – a recent introduction to the OT group, this strong lily has been called “Stargazer on steroids!” Red and white flowers with strong scent bloom in July. Compact growth habit, sturdy stalks grow to 3’ to 4’ tall. A must have in any St. Louis garden.

Silk Road - Hall of Fame lily that grows reliably year after year. Up to 6’ tall in excellent growing conditions. White flowers with red throats demonstrate its Oriental heritage.  

While Stargazer lilies are great flowers, leave their growing to greenhouse experts or enjoy them as annuals with no expectation that they will thrive in upcoming years. Instead, St. Louis gardeners should look to wonderful OT lilies for perennial bloom.

--by Kim Peterson 

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