Foxtail Lily Frenzy

I’d like to introduce you to my new obsession – Foxtail Lilies (eremurus ‘Oase’)

I’ve wanted to write about these for months, ever since I bought the tubers at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show this past February.   

But every time I sit down to write, I look out the window and see the towers of flowers are looking even better than my previous batch of photos! 

So off I go to take more pics – which my husband lovingly calls my ‘foxtail lily frenzy’ – ha!

The first time I saw foxtail lilies in person was while visiting New York’s Highline Garden. Right then and there, I vowed to try them in my own garden someday.  But for some reason, I thought they needed a much colder climate than my zone 9 garden, so I accepted the fact that I’d always suffer from bulb-envy. 

However, while perusing one of the vendor booths at the show this year, I saw a big tub full of bulbs and muttered (louder than I thought) ‘dang, I wish I could grow these!’   

A lady standing nearby overheard and asked, ‘why can’t you?’  As we chatted, it turns out she used to live in my area, and she had loads of these growing in her garden!  WHAT???!!!!   

That’s all I needed to hear, and out came my wallet!

She then told me to carefully dig through the tub and choose the biggest bulbs I could find, with the most ‘legs’ on them. 

I found 4 that had not only 1 little bulb peeking out of the center, but 2!  She then told me to ‘just snap them in half, and you’ll have 2 bulbs for the price of 1’

Could this day get any better?

Aren’t these crazy looking?  Who’d ever think something that looks like an octopus would turn into something so stunning!  

After carefully bringing my treasures back home without snapping off their fleshy roots (not easy to do on an airplane!), I set out to learn everything I could about their planting requirements. 

First, I soaked the bulbs in water for 2 hours to rehydrate them (poor little things were pretty dried out.)

 I decided to plant them in my ‘rain/pollinator’ garden as the flowers are magnets for bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. 

They’re also deer and rabbit resistant making them perfect in this spot, as it’s a favorite of browsing deer. 

Hands down, the #1 criteria for eremurus to survive is excellent drainage.  And the raised berms that I created in this part of my garden provide exactly that. 

But to ensure even faster drainage, I mixed together pea gravel and pumice, placing a few handfuls in each hole, along with a nutrient-rich soil mix.  

I then covered the bulbs with only about 2” of soil, as they want to feel the warmth from the sun. 

Holy COW, they grow fast!!!

It seems like they grew several inches each day, finally erupting into a 5’ flower tower! 

Since these flowers are so tall (easily reaching 5 to 6-feet) they will definitely need staking. 

I love the plant supports I’m using in the photos, but alas, they’re no longer available. 

I bought them eons ago at Smith & Hawken – RIP.  If anyone knows of a vendor of decorative stakes similar to these, please let me know in the comment section below. 

However,  I often use other stakes like these throughout the rest of my garden, which work just as well. While they’re not nearly as decorative, they do the job and I appreciate how their green color blends in with my garden.

Update!  A few readers have suggested these sites for tall, decorative plant supports – thanks so much!   Kinsman Company,  Gardener’s Supply Half-Round Supports, and these Wraparound Plant Loops.

 

 

The variety of foxtail lily I chose is ‘Oase’, and let me tell you, the colors are unbelievable.

Depending on the time of day and the lighting outside, the colors are always changing. 

It’s impossible to explain just how breathtaking and iridescent these flowers actually are in person. 

Take a look at these pics to see what I’m talking about!

See what I mean?  Below, the photo on the left was taken on a cloudy day, while the photo on the right was taken in the full sun.  One flower looks creamy white with a tinge of peach while the other one is much more orangy-peachy colored.

Since the flowers are such a focal point, with their powerful in-your-face size and shape, I needed to be strategic in where I planted them.

To avoid a haphazard look, I planted them in a ribbon-like pattern, so when they bloomed it would be a soft wave running through this end of the garden bed.

I also wanted the shape of the flowers to repeat (and harmonize) with the pointed top of my birdhouse. 

While doing my research, I came across this article which shows how an east coast gardener planted his bulbs in a large container, creatively timing their summer-dormancy with later-blooming perennials.   

 

Since these tubers are dormant in the summer, I made sure to plant them behind perennial and evergreen plants to avoid creating a gaping hole in my summer garden.

The plants I chose also had colors which harmonized with the foxtail lily flowers;  ‘Peaches & Cream’ grevillea,  ‘Blackbird’ euphorbias, and orange and yellow iris.

Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'
Euphorbia 'Blackbird'

 

 

If you’ve fallen in love with foxtail lilies, as I have, you can buy some for your own garden at John Scheepers or Brent & Becky’s

They’re also available in a wide range of colors, if you want stronger colors in your garden.

I’m already thinking about where I can plant more of them next year!

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16 Comments

  • Wonderful photos and info, as usual!

    Plants make life on earth possible but plants in our gardens make life joyous!

    Thank you for bringing the joy of your lovely garden directly to all of our homes.

    Reply
    • Oh, I love how you phrased that, Ronnie! Thank you for that and have a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend! 🙂

      Reply
  • HI Rebecca – I have tried and tried over the years to grow these lilies. From in the ground and/or in pots. Full sun/part shade,. I think I need to learn more. so any more tips would be greatly appreciated. because I love them too. thanks, Nan

    Reply
    • Hi Nan – I just ammended the soil like heck with fast draining pebbles and was careful not to give them too much water via the irrigation. Now I have to research just how to feed them once they’re finished blooming. Wish me luck.

      Reply
  • I am in a community garden: Fort Mason Community Garden, in San Francisco. We are very close to the Bay and the Wind. Do you think the Eremus would survive our strong afternoon winds.
    I am like you a big fan of Eremus; however, I did not realize they could grow in
    San Francisco

    Reply
    • Hi Cynthia – I don’t think they’d do well in a windy site as they’re SO top heavy. I was pretty worried in last week’s rain, and one of them tipped over (but luckily I was able to stake it back up.) Is there a sheltered place in the garden? If so, that’d be your best bet. That and full sun, I think. Good luck!

      Reply
  • Love foxtail lilies!. I planted some in containers last week. Great companion plant selections, too. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I hope yours give you as much happiness as I’ve received from mine – I just love them! Good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  • Rebecca, are those half round plant supports I see in the photo? If so, kinsmangarden.com has those – and many other supports

    Certainly will try foxtail lily in my garden here in Mountain View CA. To my amazement I just received (unsolicited) a John Scheepers catalog and have been enjoying it immensely as I do your communications!

    Reply
    • That’s so great – thanks for the recommendation. I’ll add it to my blog post for others to see. I love John Scheepers catalog and have planted several bulbs from them (some gorgeous soft warm-climate narcissus that have reliably come back year after year) – good luck with yours!

      Reply
  • So lovely! I have never grown foxtail lilies, they are on my list to find and grow now. Thank you showcasing them it is nice to know they will grow well in a zone 9 climate with a bit of soil prep. Now to find them and figure out where to place them…

    Reply
    • I think you’ll love them, Vivian (you can see them in person in my garden next week! If they survive the heat wave coming, that is….)

      Reply
  • Think they will grow in Scottsdale zone 9? It’s my husband’s favorite flower. Thanks 😃

    Reply
    • Hi Betty – my first thought is that Scottsdale is probably too hot, but then I had to remember that we’re having 4 days over 100 this week! I still can’t get used to how hot it is here in Granite Bay! I think it might be worth it to give them a try. Mine were about $5/bulb (which I split in the middle since each bulb had 2 emerging flowers) so it might be worth investing in just a few? You never know, right? I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

      Reply
  • No wonder foxtail lilies make you swoon, Rebecca. They are so otherworldly and are perfect in your pollinator garden. Photos of them in magazines have have always fascinated me, but seeing them laced so perfectly throughout your garden is mesmerizing. Wow!

    Reply
    • I’m glad you like them, Sheila. I’ve always swooned, too, and thought they’d probably come up 1/3 their size (which would STILL make me happy)so imagine how happy their 5’spires make me! I’m a dancing fool out there! 🙂

      Reply

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