Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eremurus

Front Border of My Garden

Spring Valley Hybrids

Eremurus Roford and Moneymaker
     Eremurus, sometimes called Foxtail Lilies (although they are not lilies), are showstoppers when they are in bloom.  I have a lot of them in my front border and they are at their peak right now.  I love them so much that the background picture for this blog is of them, too.  There is also a good picture of them that I posted in yesterday's blog on Dancing Oaks Nursery.  The three pictures above were taken this morning in my garden. 
     The first picture is a wide shot covering much of  my front border which is out by the street and is not fenced, so it is accessible to the deer.  You can see that if you pick the right plants there is a lot that can be grown that is not palatable to the deer, including eremurus.  I have grown these in this bed for almost 15 years, and the deer never touch them.  The eremurus in that shot are mostly a hybrid I once got from a dutch company called 'Roford'.  It is a light pink with some orange tinge in the center. It has proven to be a good grower--very tall and relatively long lasting for an eremurus.
     There is also a large yellow eremurus I grow in the same part of the garden called 'Moneymaker'. The flowers of 'Moneymaker' seem to be wider than those of 'Roford' and even taller.  In the bottom picture you can see 'Roford' in front of 'Moneymaker' and, although you can't see 'Moneymaker' that clearly, it is indeed taller than 'Roford'.  Both of these flowers tower well over my head, however.  I would estimate them to be 7 or 8 feet tall.  The second picture is of  what are called the Spring Valley hybrids, coming originally from a grower in Idaho.  These seem to be slightly behind the other ones I have in my garden and they also seem to have narrower flowers than the other ones.  They are touted as being more vigorous than other eremurus, but I have not observed that to be true.  All eremurus that I have grown have been vigorous, provided they are planted in the right spot and provided that they have been given enough time to establish themselves.
     This brings us to how to grow eremurus.  These plants are from central Asia.  Apparently they are native to places like Afghanistan.  They grow out in the open in fairly harsh climates.  I have found that the key to getting them to do well is to grow them in an open, well-drained position.  They do not do well crowded with other plants such as would be the case in the middle of a full herbaceous border.  In my front border they each have their own spot and the only plants that might get close to them are self sown poppies.  The soil should be well-drained.  My front border is slightly mounded, so that makes the drainage good.  The soil in my front border is also fairly good and I have read that eremurus like good soil, but considering where they are from I am not sure this is necessary. 
     I never water my front border and it getts quite dry here in the summer.  Again, that seems to suit eremurus.  Once they have finished blooming, the plant pretty much goes dormant, so watering it in that stage in its life would not be beneficial. 
     When you order eremurus from a bulb supplier, such as Brent and Becky's Bulbs or McClure and Zimmerman, you will receive a star fish shaped root with a center growing point. This root should not be allowed to get too dessicated, although I have had very dry looking ones eventually do well.  You should plant it fairly close to the surface, with the roots spread out, not down.  As I said, give them their own space.  Don't try to interplant with other things.  I have found that it takes several years for eremurus to settle in and start blooming.  For example, the Spring Valley hybrids in the picture have been there for at least 5 years, but this is the first year that they will really make a good show. 
     Once eremurus are in place, they should be left undisturbed for many years.  I have read that they only need dividing every 15 years although I have no personal knowledge of that fact.  I have divided eremurus before and they are easy to divide once they are dug up, but it takes them so long to settle in and flower well after that that I don't like to do it very often.  However, division is certainly an easy way to acquire mass quantities of this wonderful plant.
     All of the eremurus in the pictures are hybrids.  It is possible to find and grow the straight species, but not all of them are very showy and the hybrids are so great that I wouldn't bother to seek out the species. 

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