Plants - Perennials

Grow fiery torch lilies

Patrick Lima
Photography by
John Scanlan

The hot looks and dramatic form of these exotic flowers have venturesome gardeners singing their praises

Protecting torch lilies over the winter
The stark reality is this: if torch lily roots sit in water over winter or freeze solid, they die. In regions where snow comes early and stays late (as it does here), the ground may not freeze at all and plants will come through unharmed. Otherwise, mulch must be on the menu. Sometime in November, before frost has penetrated the ground, lay down a thick layer—15 to 20 centimetres is not too much—of fluffy mulch, such as dry leaves or peat moss, evergreen needles, compost, sawdust or straw. Leave the plant's foliage in place, tied midway up like a ponytail. Spread mulch in a wide doughnut, leaving a five-centimetre gap between the mulch and the plant (to discourage rot and disease) and extending out for at least 30 centimetres all around the crown.

Come spring, cut foliage to ground level, gradually remove mulch as the days warm up, until the ground is fully exposed to the sun's warmth—and cross your fingers. Chances are good that new green blades will poke through, and torch lilies will be lighting up your garden for another summer.


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