Known as the desert candle, the foxtail lily is a striking perennial plant that sends up tall spikes covered with tiny star-shaped flowers in shades of pink, white, orange and yellow. Native to central and western Asia, foxtail lilies are popular with professional growers and florists. They are an excellent choice for the hobby gardener, providing dramatic accents in borders and rock gardens. Foxtail lilies vary in height depending on the species. Eremurus robustus can grow to over 7 feet, while eremurus bungei tops out at 2 to 3 feet tall. Note that foxtail lilies grow from tubers rather than true bulbs.
Choose a planting site with well-drained, fertile soil and full sun.
Add organic matter such as compost, peat moss, humus or manure and mix into the planting soil.
Dig wide holes about 6 inches deep for each tuber in the fall. Space tubers about 3 feet apart. Handle the brittle roots of the tuber carefully. Water thoroughly
Apply a mulch of straw or leaves in winter to protect the tubers from frost. Expect blooms in early summer. Once plants are established, they will reseed themselves, requiring only minimal maintenance.
- Sandy, fertile soil is ideal for the foxtail lily, but the plant can tolerate a variety of soils as long is the ground is well-drained.
- If you cannot find a well-drained area in your yard, build raised beds before planting your foxtail lilies.
- Apply a light mulch during the first few winters unless you live in an area without a winter frost. Very cold winters may require a heavier mulch.
- Foxtail lilies enjoy consistently moist soil and should never be allowed to dry out.
- Foxtail lilies are resistant to many pests, but snails and slugs may plague young plants.