Lilies of China

Jim McKenney
Tue, 27 Jul 2010 08:01:53 PDT
Jim Waddick, asking about Lilium rosthornii, wrote: " I wonder how widely 

this is grown. I got mine directly from China a few years ago and it 

has slowly developed into a few blooming stems."


Every plant of Lilium rosthornii I've ever grown or seen strongly suggests a
run down Lilium henryi. 


For those of you who don't know Lilium henryi, let me point out a few of its
best qualities. It's easily grown, at its best it's extremely floriferous
(as in dozens of blooms per stem), it's tall (easily up to seven feet and
more), it's a great cut flower, it's lime tolerant, it thrives just about
wherever lilies are grown, it used to be called the orange speciosum because
the flowers look like those of L. speciosum, it blooms late in the lily
season and thus extends the season, it's readily available in the trade and
has been since it was first introduced in the late nineteenth century. It
has also played a central role in the development of some of the modern
super lilies. 


Yet with all of those good qualities, Lilium henryi is not a common garden
plant in my experience, even among lily enthusiasts. It’s the sort of plant
which can be planted in broad masses in low-maintenance public gardens with
every expectation that it will return yearly and get better in the process.
But have any of you ever seen it used that way? 


If the public will not take up Lilium henryi, I doubt very much that Lilium
rosthornii has much of a future as a garden plant outside the small circle
of “species” lily collectors.   



Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

My Virtual Maryland Garden



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