Symbolizing wealth and pride, the tiger lily lends an exotic flair to late-summer flower beds. A bulb-grown flower, the tiger lily's tropical colors and vividly contrasting spots evoke the feel of luxurious animal fur and are highly desired for cut flower arrangements. Care is relatively simple for this garden lily.
Their most identifiable feature is their spots, but tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) may easily be confused with other Asiatic and Oriental lilies, which may also have spotted petals. Look for a recurved petal, meaning there is a sharp curve out and away from the center, with the tip meeting under the center of the flower near the stem. Colors of white, orange, yellow and red are common with dark spots of varying sizes across the petal centers. Stamens protrude from the center, with large anthers at the ends. Flowers appear on 30- to 48-inch stalks in mid summer through fall.
Some L. lancifolium will grow naturally in wooded areas, especially at higher elevations. However, bulbs are commonly available and can be planted in full sun or part shade. Lilies in general demand good drainage and moist soil. A good rule of thumb is to provide sunshine for their heads (flowers) and shade for their feet (roots).
Incorporate organic compost, such as pine bark, into the soil to a depth of 12 inches to improve drainage. Plant in the spring for blooms in late summer. Bulbs may be planted in a group, with 6 inches between each group, at a depth of three times the height of the bulb.
Provide adequate moisture to keep soil damp but not soggy. When the bulb sprouts and a stalk is visible, begin fertilizing once per month, following fertilizer manufacturer instructions. Remove spent blooms right beneath the head to direct the plant's energy to growth rather than seeding. Most importantly, leave all foliage until it has turned brown and died back. The foliage feeds the bulb for the next season's blooms. Apply loose mulch to the ground around plants, avoiding contact with stalks, to provide winter protection.
As with many lily species, L. lancifolium is poisonous to pets and children so care should be taken to prevent any plant parts from being ingested. Remove spent blooms and leaf litter as soon as noticed.