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Zones 2-10, 14-16, 18-21, 32-43
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Full
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Moderate

Eremurus

Foxtail Lily, Desert Candle
Liliaceae
Perennials, Flowers

Imposing lily relatives from western and central Asia, grown for 3–9-ft.-tall spires of blooms. Bell-shaped, 1/4–1-in.-wide white, pink, or yellow flowers are massed closely in graceful, pointed spikes on the upper one-third to one-half of the stem. Plants bloom in late spring, early summer; need winter cold to bloom well. Rosettes of strap-shaped basal leaves appear in early spring, fade away after bloom in summer.

Magnificent in large borders against a background of dark green foliage, a wall, or a solid fence. Dramatic in arrangements; cut when lowest flowers on spike open.

Handle the thick, brittle roots carefully; they tend to rot when bruised or broken. Plant them in rich, fast-draining soil, setting crown just below the surface in mild-winter climates, 4–6 in. deep in colder ones. Space roots 2–4 ft. apart. When leaves die down, mark the spot; don’t disturb the roots. Don’t let the soil dry out completely during dormancy. Provide winter mulch in coldest areas.

Eremurus himalaicus (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Eremurus himalaicus (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Eremurus himalaicus

Grows to 4–8 ft. tall, with white flowers. Leaves to 1 1/2 ft. long.

Eremurus x isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Eremurus x isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Eremurus x isabellinus

Probably best known in this group are the Shelford Hybrids, 4–5 ft. tall, with blossoms in mixed colors (white, yellow, pink, orange). ‘Cleopatra’ is a 3–6-ft.-tall, orange-and-red selection of the Ruiter Hybrids, a Dutch strain featuring bright, clear flower colors.

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