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Vermont Garden Journal: In Search Of A Friend, The Tiger Lily Continues To Spread

Tiger lilies spread easily, grow in a wide range of soils and return each year with little care.
Ken Wiedemann
Tiger lilies spread easily, grow in a wide range of soils and return each year with little care.

The Korean folk story tells of a hermit who saw a tiger that was wounded by an arrow. The hermit helped the tiger by removing the arrow and they became friends. When the tiger died, the hermit used his magical powers to turn him into a lily. When the hermit died, the tiger lily started spreading, looking for his friend. Tiger lilies are still searching and spreading around the globe ever since.

Tiger lilies or (Lilium lancifolium), like the character in Peter Pan, are strong and resilient plants. Native to Asia, tiger lilies have naturalized in the United States and can be found in the wild. These bulb lilies are known for their tall stature and abundant flowers. A tell-tale tiger lily trait is the nodding, colorful blooms with spots on the petals. There are selections in colors including orange, white, pink and red.

Tiger lilies grow up to four- to five-feet tall and best in full sun. They will spread from bulblets, so be ready to weed seedlings out in spring or let them naturalize in the garden. Tiger lilies bloom in mid-summer after other lilies have faded to extend the lily-flowering season. They grow in a wide range of soils, but may need staking in windy locations. In fall, cut the plants to the ground and discard to reduce disease. Plants return each year with little care.

One of the few pests of tiger lilies is the red lily leaf beetle. Although the beetle prefers the oriental and Asiatic lilies, you'll find it on tiger lilies as well. This time of year, handpick the adult beetles and spray neem oil on the larvae to thwart it.

Now for this week's tip: pinch off flowers on tomatoes, peppers and eggplant now if your plants are still small. Small plants won't be able to support the fruit. Letting fruits form will stunt the plant and decrease yield. Don't worry. Once the plant grows larger, it will set plenty of flowers and fruits.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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