Turk’s Cap Lily Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Lilium Superbum”

Complete guide to Turk's Cap Lily Flowers for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Lilium Superbum”

Several types of lilies are referred to as Turk’s Cap Lilly. Such is the case of Lilium Martagon (native to central Europe and East Asia) or Lilium Michauxii (native to southeastern North America). However, the name rightfully belongs to Lilium Superbum. This is a gorgeous fiery lily, very popular in Rhode Island but also found all around eastern and central North America.

Due to its orange shade and dark spots, you will probably see this lovely lily labeled as American Tiger Lily, the Swamp Lily, Turban Lily, or Lily Royal. Lilies are generally great for cottage or traditional English gardens, but they can easily be integrated into other garden styles as well. They are ideal for flower borders and they also look great near ponds or streams. They are also a great way to add height to an outdoor space.

Ready to start growing Turk’s Cap Lily? Keep reading our article!

About the Turk’s Cap Lily

  • The name of this flower comes from its petals and sepals, which in full bloom rest in an inverted position, almost touching towards the flower’s rear, somehow resembling a traditional Turkish hat.
  • As we already mentioned, this flower is native to eastern and central North America, extending from New Hampshire to New York, Illinois, all the way to Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It can be grown naturally in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.
  • These beautiful and easy-to-grow lilies are very resilient when it comes to pests and diseases. However, their leaves can sometimes be attacked by red lily beetles. It is best to inspect the leaves of your plants regularly and apply the appropriate pesticide when needed.
  • When they flower, Turk’s cap lilies attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and several other pollinators. As such, they are a great way to make your garden livelier and more environmentally friendly.
  • Like all lilies, Turk’s Cap Lily is extremely toxic for cats. Nonetheless, it does not present a danger to dogs and horses. Weird right?
  • There are no known medicinal benefits for these plants, but their bulbs are edible. They have a starchy taste that resembles turnips. They are often used in Asian cuisine, as an alternative to potatoes or as thickeners in soups.
Turk's Cap Lily
Turk’s Cap Lily

Turk’s Cap Lily Features: An Overview

  • Turk’s Cap Lily is a tall flower, with an average height ranging between 1 and 2 meters. Interestingly enough, it is the tallest American native lily.
  • The blooming period starts in early summer, although it can also be delayed to mid-summer, depending on the local weather.
  • Most plants produce up to seven blooms during the flowering season. Some extraordinary plants that grow in optimal conditions can have dozens of blooms on each stem. The record is held by a plant that held 40 blooms on a single stem.
  • However, despite their gorgeous displays of flowers, Turk’s Cap Lilies are almost scentless.
  • The flowers of Turk’s Cap Lily are attached to the stem through long peduncles. A stem with several hanging blossoms will resemble a natural chandelier.
  • Depending on its growing conditions, the Lilium Superbum’s color can vary from a deep yellow to fiery orange with red petal tips. The flowers feature a green star at their center. This feature is what distinguishes it from other varieties which are often mistaken for Turk’s Caps.
  • Each flower has 3 luscious petals and 3 sepals, all of which have sleek curves, with their tips reaching upwards towards the sun. The sepals and the petals are identical, which is why many people assume that these flowers have 6 petals. The flowers are rather large, with an average width ranging from 5 to 10 cm.
  • Each flower contains 6 stamens with brown anthers. The seedpods develop in early autumn.
  • The luscious green leaves have an elliptical shape, and they are arranged in whorls around the stems. The leaves are about 15 cm long.

Growing Turk’s Cap Lily

Lily Royal, as it is also called in some places, prefers rich soils and full sun exposure. It can also thrive in partial shade if it gets a minimum of 16 hours of light per day. Ideally, you should plant the lilies in a location where they get plenty of morning sun and filtered sun or partial shade in the afternoon.

These lovely lilies thrive in moist, acid soil. You should check the soil’s moisture level regularly and never let it dry out completely. Keep in mind that the natural habitats or Lilium Superbum include wet meadows and moist woodlands. Nonetheless, make sure that your soil has good draining properties, as soggy soil is not ideal for these plants. You can improve your soil’s draining properties by adding some compost or other organic material to a depth of about 30 cm. Humus, sand, or peat are also great ways to regulate drainage.

Lilium superbum / Turks-Cap Seeds, From Amazon

Lilies need regular feeding, especially during their first years. A 5-10-5 fertilizer is great if you want your lilies to have rich clusters of flowers. Placing some compost at the base of the lilies is also a great way to give these plants some extra nutrients. Mulching is also encouraged, especially during the summer, to keep the soil moist and cool.

These plants do not require regular pruning. However, once the plant has lost its flowers and the leaves have lost all their vitality, it is best to prune them at the base. This will protect the plants from diseases and various viruses.

Planting Turk’s Cap Lily

When planting Lilium Superbum bulbs, make sure the soil is relatively loose so that the roots will not encounter resistance when sprouting. Use a garden trowel to dig 13-15 cm deep holes. You can also use a special bulb planting tool that you can find in most garden shops.

Place the bulbs in the holes, cover them with garden soil, and add a top cover made of natural mulch. This will hold in the moisture while also maintaining a steady temperature. During the first growing season, you might want to place these plants in a greenhouse, where they can grow at an average temperature of 10-18 ° C.

The soil temperature should be around 9° C. If you plan on transplanting these plants, you should do this during spring. Prune the plants at the top before transplanting them.

Watering Turk’s Cap Lily

Lilium Superbum’s prefer light watering sessions. Ideally, they should get about one inch of water per week during the growing season. There is a simple process that you can do to determine for how long your garden needs to be watered to get an inch of water. Simply place a plastic container near your sprinklers. It depends on the sprinklers, but in most cases, it takes about an hour to get an inch of water. Split this into three 20 minutes-long watering sessions. Regular watering is particularly important during the plant’s first two years.

Propagating Turk’s Cap Lily

The easiest and most efficient way to propagate Turk’s Cap Lily is through bulb division. It is best to do this during the spring so that the young plants can have a fresh start in the full growing season.

Dividing the bulbs is quite easy. Simply dig up a mature plant, shake off the excess soil and gently separate all the bulbs. Twist and rock the bulbs back and forth to gently divide them. While you work, cover the bulbs in wet newspapers so that they do not dry out. You should plant them in individual pots and transplant them outdoors when they are one or two years old. When planting the bulbs, make sure the pointy ends are faced upwards.

Lilium superbum
Lilium superbum

You can also propagate Turk’s Cap Lily plants through seeds but bear in mind that this is a tedious and time-consuming process. The seeds are harvested in the fall. The seed pods should be dry at this time and have a papery texture. Place the seeds in a plastic bag filled with peat moss and keep it indoors at room temperature for three months. Next, place the bag in the refrigerator for another 3 months. After 6 months the seeds should have already developed into bulblets.

At the beginning of spring, you can plant the bulblets directly into the garden, on a seed tray, or in individual pots. Do not expect to see more than a single leaf during the plants’ first summer. During the second summer, you should see a stem and a few leaves, but you will not see flowers until the third summer. You can also plant the seeds directly in the ground, but it will take even longer to see some flowers.

In Conclusion

Turk’s Cap Lilies are a great way to add some vibrant, fiery blooms to your garden. But keep in mind that they take quite a long time to reward you with their prized blooms and they do require regular watering and feeding.

These beautiful flowers do require some patience and effort on your part but you will not be sorry as they will reward you with their blooms. Make sure to plant them on the last row in flower beds, so that they do not overshadow shorter plants. Pair them with geraniums, marigolds, pansies, dahlias, daffodils, tulips, irises, violets, or daisies.

Are you growing Turk’s Cap Lilies? Share your experience in the comments below!

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

1 Comment

  1. Good information.
    Is mid-May too late to divide (in zone 6b)? My lilies are about a foot tall now, but have been in this location for several years and look a bit crowded.
    And yes, they are spectacular.

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