I was introduced to martagon lilies only in the past couple of years, but have really become a fan of these unusual lilies. It helps that they like dappled shade, of which I have an abundance, and that they are rock-solid hardy in Minnesota. It helps that bees and hummingbirds love them and frequent the blooms in my garden. It helps that Martagons are generally hybridized by enthusiasts, so that each plant seems to be a work of passion rather than a marketing gesture. And, lastly, it helps that the flowers are upside-down.
If you aren’t familiar with martagons, let me introduce you. These lilies are members of the species Lilium martagon. They are hardy all the way to USDA Zone 3, so you can grow them in northern Minnesota. Martagons grow well in full sun to light shade — as noted above, they really do well in dappled shade. They can grow in any kind of soil, except soil that is very acid or very dry. They like some moisture. The flower scapes grow 3 to 6 feet tall. Bulbs or plants can be planted in spring, and martagon lilies generally bloom in late June—so they are a bit ahead of the other lilies in your garden.
They are very easy to care for, too, and once established, they bloom profusely. So why are there not more martagon lilies sold in garden centers?And, why are the ones out there kind of pricey? Martagons are an investment in time. The stretch between seed and first flower can be seven years. And, even if you plant a plant, it may not bloom much (or at all) the first year. Still, I think martagon lilies are worth the wait.
The variety you are most likely to find in the commercial trade is ‘Claude Shride’ which has a deep magenta flower and blooms profusely. If you see one of these at a plant sale or garden center, consider making an investment in this beautiful lily.
What’s not to love about a plant with upside-down blooms?