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Lilies: Lost Forever?

From America’s Expert Source for Heirloom Flower Bulbs
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Though preservation is our mission, bulbs drop out of our catalog every year.

Sometimes it’s because the harvest was too small. Sometimes it’s because they’re widely available elsewhere and don’t need our help. And sometimes it’s because we’ve lost our only known source due to severe weather (cold, drought, etc.), health problems (a debilitating stroke), or economic woes (small farmers are always at risk).

The good news is that, in time, we’re often able to return these bulbs to our catalog. So here’s a list of many we’ve offered in the past. For an alert the moment they’re available again, subscribe to our free email newsletter. Or to find a similar bulb, try our easy Advanced Bulb Search.


Fall-planted:     Crocus       Daffodils       Hyacinths       Lilies       Peonies       Tulips       Diverse

Spring-planted:     Cannas       Dahlias       Daylilies       Gladiolus       Iris       Diverse


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SUMMER PERFUMES

The fragrance of lilies wafting through your garden on a warm summer night is an unforgettable pleasure. Sniff 3 different, easy favorites (some possibilities are pictured here). For zones 5a-7b(9bWC) only. Last offered in 2012. We may offer it again periodically.


BLACK DRAGON, 1950

Maroon buds open to big white trumpets, sunny in the throat and richly shaded with burgundy on the outside. “It’s sinister, it’s dreamy, it’s two-two-two plants in one,” raved Better Homes and Gardens. From the original strain of L. leucanthum collected from cottage gardens in China. Darkest in cool climates. Mid-summer blooming, 5-6 feet, zones 5a-8b(9bWC), from Washington. Last offered in 2009. We lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock of this widely mis-labeled lily.


CITRONELLA, 1958

Graceful, easy, and inexpensive, this wildflowery classic still ranks high in Lily Society popularity polls, and rightly so. Bred by Oregon’s legendary Jan de Graaff, it has all the charms of a wild lily, with slender, lemon-yellow, turk’s-cap flowers sprinkled with charming poppy seed dots. 4-5 feet, zones 4a-8b(10bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2012. ‘Citronella’ is now commercially extinct in the Netherlands, and bulbs offered by mainstream sources are actually L. leichtlinii.


COPPER KING, 1958

Copper, apricot, cantaloupe, amber — you’ll see all of these warm, summery colors in this tall, fragrant, long-lived trumpet lily. Colors are richer in cool summers, but the ‘King’ is always a pleasure. Virus-free, seed-grown bulbs from our fabulous Oregon grower. Mid-summer blooming, 5-6 feet, zones 5b-8b(10bWC). Last offered in 2008. Unfortunately we lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock. ‘African Queen’ is similar — and excellent.


L. pumilum, CORAL LILY, 1812

You’ll find it now in our Spring Diverse Others section.


L. dauricum, DAHURIAN LILY, 1804

From the Siberian province of Dauria, this tough, bright, very early lily brings a splash of summer’s brilliance to iris season. Also known as L. umbellatum, it was grown in Japanese gardens for centuries and used to breed a host of similar, now mostly extinct Victorian favorites known as L. x elegans, L. x thunbergianum, and L. x hollandicum, as well as Isabella Preston’s famous Stenographer hybrids. Zones 5a-7b(10bWC). Last offered in 2010. Unfortunately we lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock.


EXCELSIOR, 1952

Splash grenadine into a tall, icy glass of lemonade, add a cherry, and you’ll be pretty darn close to the sunrise-in-Key-West coloring of ‘Excelsior’. The first time it bloomed here, we felt as if we’d stumbled into a big summer party. And it’s intoxicatingly fragrant. Party on! Oriental, mid-summer blooming, 4 feet, zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2012. ‘Excelsior’ is now commercially extinct in the Netherlands.


FIRE KING, 1933

Still a great favorite in England (though all but impossible to find here), brilliant ‘Fire King’ is a tough, easy to grow Asiatic lily with out-facing blossoms of jazzy orange minutely spotted with purple. The MacNeils in their 1946 Garden Lilies praised it as “definitely ‘look at you’, a most valuable asset.” Asiatic, 3-5’, early-summer, zones 4a-8b(10bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2005. We lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock of this widely mis-labeled lily.


L. hansonii, HANSON’S LILY, 1871

“No garden should be without it,” wrote Woodcock and Coutts in 1935 of this wild, martagon-like lily, echoing C.L. Allen of Boston who in 1893 ranked it as one of the dozen best lilies for American gardens. With 4-12 small, freckled, amber-saffron blooms in early summer, it’s early-blooming and happiest in light shade. 3-5 feet, zones 3a-7a(8bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2014. Available elsewhere.


L. henryi, HENRY’S LILY, 1889


You’ll find it now in our Spring Diverse Others section.


L. pardalinum, LEOPARD LILY, 1848

This is the only native California lily that thrives anywhere it’s not too hot. With brilliant orange-red petals that are splashed with gold and leopard-spotted, it was first brought into gardens in the Gold Rush era. In 1939 expert George Slate praised it as “not particular as to soil, easily established, handsome and graceful.” 4-6 feet, zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2014. Unfortunately we lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock.


L. martagon, MARTAGON LILY, 1568

Favorites for centuries, these wild European “mountain lilies” were crowded aside in the 1800s by flashier lilies arriving from Asia. But their charms endure, and today they’re making a big comeback. Blooming in earliest summer with dainty, lavender-pink, turk’s-cap flowers, they’re extra cold-hardy but not always easy to please. Give them a cool spot, humusy soil, filtered sun – and patience. 3-4 feet, zones 3a-7a(8bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2017. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


L. martagon ‘Album’, MARTAGON, WHITE, 1601

The small, graceful blossoms of this luminous wildflower seem made by fairies. Like its lavender-pink cousin, it requires a cool site, filtered sun, humus-rich soil, and patience as it settles in — but it’s worth it. 3-5 feet, very early summer, zones 3a-7a(8bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2017. Unfortunately we lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


MRS. BACKHOUSE, 1921

Subtle but majestic, ‘Mrs. R. O. Backhouse’ produces an impressive pyramid of up to 30 fuzzy pink buds that open to small, martagon-like blossoms, each a soft amber and cream blushed with pink and lightly dotted with maroon. It’s happiest in very light shade, never needs staking, and is much easier and more vigorous than its wild parents, L. martagon and L. hansonii. 4-5 feet, zones 4a-7b(9bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2013. Unfortunately we lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock.


L. bulbiferum croceum, ORANGE OR FIRE LILY, 1629

“The pride of many a cottage garden,” this classic “multiplies rapidly and lasts well even in completely neglected gardens” (Complete Book of Lilies, 1961). A European wildflower, it appeared in the earliest herbals, was painted by the Dutch masters, and was offered in U.S. catalogs by 1830. In Germany it’s known as “fire lily,” and in Northern Ireland its rich orange color has made it a special favorite. Up-facing, cupped, mid-summer flowers. 3-4’, zones 4a-7b(9bWC), Holland. Last offered in 2003. We lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock of this widely mis-labeled lily.


L. canadense var. coccineum/rubrum, RED MEADOW LILY, 1629

Rare and prized, the red form of our native “spotted Canada martagon” is one of the most spectacular and graceful wild lilies, its nodding bells ranging in color from brick red to almost scarlet. Best in moist, acid soils and filtered sun, it’s highly sought-after by eager collectors. 4-5’, zones 5a-7b(9bWC). Superb Oregon-grown bulbs! Last offered in 2003. Unfortunately our grower passed away and we haven’t been able to locate another source.


L. speciosum rubrum, RUBRUM LILY, 1830

Is this what heaven smells like? It’s my favorite floral fragrance — lush, complex, and never too much. ‘Rubrum’ is achingly beautiful, too, with pink and white petals “all rugged with rubies and garnets, and sparkling with crystal points,” to quote the RHS’s John Lindley soon after it arrived from Japan. My wife Jane and I liked it so much we included it in our wedding 30 happy years ago. Wonderfully late blooming, 4-5 feet, zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2012. ‘Rubrum’ is now commercially extinct in the Netherlands, and bulbs offered by mainstream sources are L. speciosum ‘Uchida’.


SILVER SUNBURST, 1959

Magnificently tough and healthy, this statuesque beauty is topped by big, extra-fragrant, wide open, bell-like flowers with long, lovely petals that curl back dramatically from a heart full of sunshine. Virus-free, seed-grown bulbs. Trumpet, 5-6 feet, mid-to-late summer, zones 5a-8b(10bWC), from Oregon. Last offered in 2004. We lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock.


L. speciosum album, SPECIOSUM ALBUM, 1830

‘Casa Blanca’ is a fine lily, but we like this wild ancestor of it even better. Exquisitely fragrant, its flowers are more graceful, less huge, with showier, jade-green nectaries that enhance its sparkling whiteness. Like L. speciosum rubrum it’s a form of the variable “Japan lily” which “commanded extravagant prices” (Breck, 1851) when it was first imported and became one of the Victorian era’s most popular flowers. Its late bloom extends the lily season. 4-5 feet, zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from Holland. Last offered in 2012. ‘speciosum album’ is now commercially extinct in the Netherlands.


L. speciosum rubrum UCHIDA, 1960

Because it’s harvested so late, we’re now delivering this lily in spring only. You’ll find it in our Spring Diverse bulbs.


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