For sizzle in the garden, torch lily is at the top of my list. Some may call the colors brassy but I like the combination of orange and yellow and pair it with the scarlet red of the Asiatic lily, ‘Grand Paradiso’ in my hot border. The flowers or borne on 3-4’ spikes above stiff, sharply pointed gray-green evergreen foliage and make quite a presence in the garden. Actually, size is the plant’s major drawback as it is not the tidiest or best looking plant when it has finished blooming. Still, I would not be without it and there are some smaller cultivars in a variety of colors that find a welcome home in my garden.
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Bloom: Spikes of red and yellow flowers up to 4’ tall in spring-summer.
Size: 3′-4′ H x 3′-4′ W.
Light: Full sun.
Soil: Good, loose, well-drained, moist soil.
Fertilizer: An application of mulch every year or two is sufficient.
Hardiness: Zones 5-9.
Care: Deadhead to prolong bloom; cut back the foliage half way after flowering to reduce size and improve appearance. In zone 5 protect the crown from freezing water by applying compost.
Pests and Diseases: None of importance but wet feet will cause problems especially in the winter.
Propagation: Lift the clump in the fall, rinse off the soil and separate a few crowns and their fleshy roots from the edges of the clump. Trim the roots a bit, cut the foliage to 2-3” and plant the divisions.
Companion plants: Orange, yellow and red flowered plants such as common sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa), yellow or orange daylilies, and some of the yarrows echo the colors of the torch lily. Cushion spurge will also hide the foliage of the torch lily as it declines. Blue globe thistle will give relief if that is what you want or need.
Outstanding Selections: There are a number of good cultivars providing a variety of colors, bloom times, and sizes:
‘Royal Standard’ – the best of the yellow-red ones; 3′-4′ tall, mid summer.
‘Candlelight’ – creamy yellow buds open to white flowers on 24″-30″ stems; reblooms from spring to fall.
‘Little Maid’ – lemon yellow flowers on 18″-22″ stems turn creamy white as they age; mid summer.
‘Shining Scepter’ – golden tangerine colored flowers on 30” stems; mid summer.