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Toad Lily Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Tricyrtis” Plants

Guide to Toad Lily - everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for “Tricyrtis” Plants
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Tricyrtis, commonly known in the cultivation world as the Toad lily, is a genus that contains about 20 Asian species of flowering plants. Natively, these stunning flowers grow mostly on stream banks and shaded rocky cliffs. They are native to several oriental regions that range from eastern Asia to the Himalayas, such as Japan, China, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

The Tricyrtis genus is subdivided into four sections−Brachycyrtis, Flavae, Hirtae, and Tricyrtis. Although many species are worth our attention thanks to their interesting appearance, only a few are popular in the gardening world. And that is too bad! However, if you want to bring a new dash of color to your collection of plants, these flowers are a perfect choice.

While growing and caring for species like T. formosana ‘Dark Beauty’ or T. hirta, you will quickly realize how charming and fascinating their presence is. Their easy-going nature is another great thing about Toad Lily flowers. They are the missing exotic piece of every garden, but can also decorate any indoor location if you choose to grow them in adorable pots, which we can assure you, will be an effortless and fun activity.

About Toad Lily

  • These flowering plants thrive in many regions worldwide. They form dense colonies over a long period without being invasive.
  • When the great majority of perennial plants have finished blooming, Toad lilies are just getting started. You can enjoy their colorful and mesmerizing flowers until late autumn.
  • They play a big role in their surrounding environment as both ornamental houseplants and wild species.
  • While their blossoms are very attractive to pollinators like bees, the fruits are an important food source for several wildlife species.
  • Most gardeners prefer to plant these beauties in woodlands and perennial borders, or by streams and ponds. They look great along a path or sidewalk too, keeping you company as you pass them by every day.
  • Toad lilies will have the time of their life if you grow them in partial to full shade all-year-round. They do best in warm temperatures but are also known for their ability to tolerate frost pretty well.
  • They put on display the most vigorous growth in organic, slightly acidic, and well-draining soils.
  • The main factor at play for healthy Toad lilies is moisture, so make sure they get as much water as they need.
  • Although the leaves of Tricyrtis species are edible, most parts of these plants are poisonous to cats and dogs. We recommend growing these plants in a location where your curious beloved ones won’t be able to reach them.
  • Toad lilies are plants that have a friendly personality, making them excellent companions to other species of flowering plants including Solomon’s Seal, New England Asters, Siberian Bugloss, and Mountain Fleece.
Toad Lily
Toad Lily

Toad Lily Features: An Overview

  • The flowering plants from the Tricyrtis genus are herbaceous perennials that come along with creeping rhizomes. In general, their stems are erect, sometimes ascending, or even branched from the middle to the top.
  • Depending on the species, Toad lilies can reach from 2 to 3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) in height and 1.5 to 2 feet (0.4-0.6 m) in width. If you want to grow them as houseplants, these plants will probably remain much smaller than they would in their natural habitat.
  • Their green or variegated foliage consists of subsessile leaves. In botany, this term is used to describe parts of plants that have no stalk, their leaves being born directly from the stems.
  • During their blooming period, from late summer to fall, Toad lilies produce alluring inflorescences of gorgeous, solitary flowers. The blossoms have both male and female parts.
  • Their flowers are trumpet-shaped, having six free tepals arranged in two whorls. The inner whorl has upright tepals decorated with dorsal crests, while the outer whorl comes packed with pouches that secrete nectar.
  • The tepals of Toad lilies usually appear in white tints with many purple to pink dots, but some species can also exhibit creamy-white to yellow tepals with orange, red, or brown spots.
  • Once the flowering season has ended, their blooms are followed by three-angled fruits. They are broadly cylindrical capsules that release many tiny and flat seeds when ripe.

Growing Toad Lily

What makes Toad lilies one of the most entertaining companions to have around is their ability to grow nicely and bloom sporadically in deep shade. In general, these plants can also tolerate some full sunlight in the morning but only if you provide them with lots of moisture. If you live in a region with hot and dry climates, your plants will show the best performance if you place them in dappled to full shade.

The ideal temperatures for Toad lilies to thrive are different from one species to another. The hardiest and most common species known as T. hirta can withstand temperatures that drop to -4 °F (-20 °C). However, if the winter months are too harsh in your area, it is better to grow your plants indoors in pots to protect them from long-term frost exposure.

Blue Wonder Toad Lily, From Amazon

When it comes to pest problems and diseases, Toad lilies are usually untroubled. But there comes a moment when intruders like slugs and snails group up and throw a party on your baby plants. If you notice any suspect presence, you can remove the pests and place suitable baits around your plants to avoid any future infestation.

Planting Toad Lily

If you want to have a garden full of exotic flowers, it is best to plant your Toad lilies in spring, when you know for sure that the temperatures won’t drop below 0. For optimal development, make sure you plant these beauties in a location where they can get protection from winds.

One of the most important factors in the process of growing and caring for Toad lilies is their growing medium. When you plant these flowers in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, they will require little to no fertilizer during their lifetime.

Whether you prefer your plants indoors or outdoors, Toad lilies grow at their best in those humusy types of soil. They are typically fast-growers, but you can provide your plants with fertilizer if they do not seem vigorous enough. Feed your Toad lilies with an organic or all-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted at ½ strength once or twice a year in spring.

Watering Toad Lily

Toad lilies are among those easy-going plants that absolutely love having their feet constantly wet. During their watering routine, however, you should avoid over-watering, soggy conditions, or waterlogging at any cost. These flowers are susceptible to root rot, so it is better to forget about watering them sometimes than provide them with more water than needed.

The frequency of watering may vary depending on the season and their environmental conditions. If you live in a region with frequent rainfalls and grow Toad lilies outdoors, you won’t need supplemental irrigation. In hot and dry climates, your plants will eventually demand a nice soak more often than usual.

If you want to make sure that you are giving your plants the time of their life, check the soil regularly in-between waterings. When the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch, your thirsty Toad lilies are ready for another round of water.

Tricyrtis
Tricyrtis

Propagating Toad Lily

Having the eye-catching flowers of Toad lilies around can be a delightful experience, so why not share this blessing with your family and friends? Luckily, these plants are very easy to propagate through seeds, stem cuttings, or division, and some methods will also show nice results in a short time.

If you want to propagate Toad lilies from seeds indoors, you must collect them once they are ripe and place them in the refrigerator for a month or so before planting. You can also sow the seeds directly in the garden in late fall or early spring after the last frost. We recommend planting the seeds on a moist substrate and placing them in bright, direct light. Ideally, the soil’s temperature must be maintained at  65-70 °F (18-21 °C) until germination, which usually takes 4-6 weeks.

You can propagate Toad lilies through cuttings using 4-inches (10 cm) stems that you’ll take in early summer. In general, new plants tend to develop roots just below the leaves, so your cuttings should contain a leaf at the top half. For optimal growth, dip the lower end of the cuttings in rooting hormone and plant them into a damp rooting substrate up to the leaf axis. If you place the cuttings in a well-lit, warm location and provide them with moisture regularly, they will develop a strong root system in several weeks.

Division is another good method to have more Toad lilies in your garden over the next season. All you have to do is to divide your plants into as many sections as you want and plant them individually in spring. For guaranteed results, however, make sure that each divided baby plant contains a new growth bud on the underground rhizome.

In Conclusion

If you’re on a gardening journey, seeking for beautiful plants to add to your collection, it is impossible to resist Toad Lilies. These flowering plants are truly unique! Toad lilies don’t just look exotic and hypnotizing, but they are also very easy to grow, care for, and even propagate. All they need is a little bit of time, patience, water, and plenty of love and they’ll reward you with their mesmerizing blooms.

Are you growing Toad Lilies? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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