Eremurus isabellinus 'Cleopatra'

How to grow foxtail lilies

Find out how to grow eye-catching foxtail lilies (Eremurus), in our detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Foxtail lilies, Eremurus, are hardy perennials grown for their impressive flower spikes in June or July. Each spike is made up of hundreds of star-shaped flowers that are attractive to bees. Foxtail lilies flower for about three weeks and offer valuable height at the back of a border.

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How to grow foxtail lilies

Plant foxtail lilies at the back of a sunny border in well-drained soil. Stake plants in windy areas and feed annually with a general purpose fertiliser. Cut back after flowering or leave to self-seed. Native to western and central Asia, foxtail lilies require a period of cold in winter, to encourage the best blooms.

More on growing foxtail lilies:


Where to plant foxtail lilies

How to grow foxtail lilies - where to plant foxtail lilies
How to grow foxtail lilies – where to plant foxtail lilies

Foxtail lilies do best in  full sun and well-drained soil, ideally sandy soil. The back of a border is perfect, as plants growing in front of them can hide unsightly foliage as the foxtail lilies start to die down after flowering. Give them plenty of space, however, as they don’t do well if crowded.


How to plant foxtail lilies

How to grow foxtail lilies - planting a foxtail lily crown
How to grow foxtail lilies – planting a foxtail lily crown

Dormant, bare-root Eremurus crowns are available from specialist bulb suppliers. Plant them immediately. The roots are tuberous, thick and fleshy and are best planted over a mound and then the roots covered, a little like you would plant asparagus. Good drainage is essential – to improve drainage, dig a planting hole and place a handful of horticultural sand or grit at the bottom of the hole, before making your mound. Good drainage will help plants establish more quickly.

Position roots so the crown of the plant is above the soil.

In this clip from Gardeners’ World, Monty shows you how to plant foxtail lily crowns, choosing apricot-pink Eremurus x isabellinus ‘Cleopatra’. Watch now to find out what growing conditions these elegant perennials like and how to plant them in your borders:

How to care for foxtail lilies

If grown in the right place, foxtail lilies need very little care. Choose a sheltered spot to avoid having to stake them, or add a stake if they’re more exposed. Deadhead plants just after the flowers have faded, or allow to self-seed around the garden. There’s mo need to dig up the crowns in autumn, but do avoid mulching the crown as this can cause it to rot. Apply a general-purpose fertiliser in spring.


How to propagate foxtail lilies

Foxtail lilies self-seed readily. Simply lift and replant the seedlings where you want them to grow or leave them where they are for a natural display. If you wish to collect the seed, avoid deadheading until autumn and choose a dry day for collection. Sow seed in trays or pots and leave them in a cold frame to germinate.

You can also divide foxtail lilies after flowering, but leave this until plants have been in place for a few years.


Growing foxtail lilies: problem solving

Foxtail lilies are trouble-free plants if grown in a well-drained soil.


Foxtail lilies to grow

How to grow foxtail lilies - Eremurus isabellinus 'Romance'
How to grow foxtail lilies – Eremurus isabellinus ‘Romance’
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  • Eremurus robustus – the largest of the genus with thick flower spikes in June. Pinky flowers on spikes of 1.8m
  • Eremurus stenophyllus – warm yellow flowers from June to July on spikes 1.5m
  • Eremurus himalaicus – white flowers that appear slightly earlier than other types. Reaches 1.5m
  • Eremurus x isabellinus – pinky/orange flowers in June or July. Reaches a height of 1.5m
  • Eremurus x isabellinus ‘Romance’ (pictured) – pale pink flowers in July. Reaches a height of 1.5m