Virtues: We love foxtail lilies, or desert candles (Eremurus spp.), for their tall, narrow stature, their big bright flowers and their supreme drought tolerance.
Common name: Foxtail lilies, desert candles
Botanical name: Eremurus spp. and cvs.
Flowers: Tall spires of densely packed small individual flowers appear in late spring. The flower cluster can make up half of the plant’s tall stem. Flowers begin opening at the bottom of the stalk and progress upward. Colors range from white through all shades of yellow, orange and red.
Foliage: Low mounds of daylily-like leaves.
Size/habit: Herbaceous perennial that grows from a tuber. Depending on variety, can be three to eight feet tall when measured to top of flower spike. The mound of foliage is typically on to two feet wide.
Season: Late spring, for flowers.
Origin: Grasslands and semi-deserts of Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan.
Cultivation: Grow in full sun, in sandy but fertile soil and with some protection from wind. They need excellent drainage. The tubers should be planted shallowly (three to five inches deep) and they do not like to be disturbed once planted. Protect with mulch in winter. A gravel mulch can be very helpful in avoiding rot. Another planting trick is to dig a deeper planting hole and create a mound of sand/gravel in its center. Then place the tuber on top (pointed end up), with its roots draping down over the sand hill. Then fill in the hole with sand/soil mix. USDA Zones 5–8.
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