Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gifts From the Toad Lilies

I'm a seed saver. If I have some annuals or perennials that I love, you can bet that beginning in late August, you'll see little glass bowls with seeds in them lining up on the kitchen counter. They grow in number until about the end of October, which is usually when seed saving season is forced to come to a close. If the plants haven't produced seed by then, frosts and hard freezes put a stop to it.

I've long considered the toad lily (Tricyrtis spp.) to be my signature plant - the one that I take the most joy in, because [a] its bloom resembles an orchid's [b] it grows and blooms in the shade, [c] it blooms at the end of summer through fall, when blooms become more sparse, especially in shade, and [d] I can't imagine my gardens without it.

Toad lily
Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki'

Every year, the toad lilies (not actually lilies, by the way) bloom their little hearts out and form seed pods. And every year, I hope to collect seeds. But I don't. They get soooo close to maturing enough, and then frost happens and I'm left with green pods and immature seeds.

But thanks to an unseasonably warm fall this year, I've got toad lily seeds. I've got lots of them because they're so tiny - nearly as small as petunia seeds. I have petunias that self seed every year and I've said that if every single petunia seed germinated, there would be enough petunias to supply all the garden centers for 50 miles around.

The seed pods of these toad lilies measure about an inch, tip to tip,
with the seeds about the size of flecks of pepper.

But that never happens and maybe that's the reason that petunias produce so much seed to begin with. Toad lilies have the same potential, but they can be difficult to grow from seed.

They need cold stratification and they need light to germinate, so that means I'm going to need to sow those seeds now by sprinkling them on top of the soil where I want them to grow, and hope that the freezing and thawing cycles (not to mention the cats) don't manage to bury them by spring.

I'll let you know next spring how successful I am.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hope you get them to grow. What fun it would be to sprinkle toad lilies all around the garden.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Oh I will have to go out and look to see if I have to see how they grow for you.

Shawna Lee Coronado said...

I love toadlilies!!!

Colleen said...

Such a pretty flower.
Can you not start your seeds in small containers and then transplant when ready to do so?
If sow directly outdoors in your flower bed; why not lay chicken wire over your planted seeds to keep the cats and other critters from scratching in the dirt.
Best of luck

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

One beautiful benefit of a warm fall. I love Toad Lilies, too. I had some, but they didn't last. I think I need to try them in a different spot. I'll look forward to hearing about your new Toad Lilies next spring! :)

Garden Lily said...

Oh, I'm so hopeful for you. I love toad lilies, but the one I bought never returned the following year, and I haven't dared to buy another.

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