Fall Planted Bulbs | Gardening 101

How to Grow Foxtail Lilies


It’s easy to remember the first time seeing Foxtail Lilies blooming in a garden. These unique showy summer bulbs produce flowers that look like glowing candles. Foxtail lilies are tall and narrow in habit and sure to turn heads. If you want to add a stunning summer bloom to your garden find a place for Foxtail Lilies, we will give you all the details to set you up for success.

How to Grow Foxtail Lilies

Shelford's Hybrid Foxtail Lilies

Shelford Hybrid Foxtail Lilies

First, we should know that Foxtail Lilies (Eremurus species) are native to China, Northern India, Tibet, and Siberia. This is important to note as it can be indicative of their best growing conditions. Garden varieties of Foxtail Lily come from Eremurus x isabellinus lineage and are often cultivated varieties of these hybrids. Popular varieties available online and in garden stores for fall planting are Shelford’s Hybrid, Cleopatra, and Bungei.

Site Location

When selecting a location for the Foxtail Lilies bulbs there are some things to consider. They grow best in full sun. However, they will benefit from protection from strong, and drying winds in spring and early summer. They grow tall, up to 5′, therefore, they should be placed in the garden where they can reach their full height potential. Lastly, a few weeks after blooming during mid-summer they will go dormant. Therefore, planting another tall bulb like an Orienpet Lily in the location will help fill the void they leave in the mid-summer garden.

Grow Foxtail Lilies in hardiness zones 4-8. In colder zones 4-6 adding a layer of mulch to protect the roots in winter and early spring is advised. Freeze-thaw cycles and late frosts can also impact the roots and growth of Foxtail Lilies which is another reason to add a layer of mulch to the roots.

Well Drained Soil is Critical Foxtail Lily Bulb

The most important aspect of successfully growing Foxtail Lilies is that the soil drains well. In an ideal setting, they should be planted in sandy soil. However, if your area does not naturally provide sandy soil, the soil can be amended to improve drainage. In heavy soils that hold water, add plant starter mix, and compost to improve the quality and drainage of the soil.

How to Plant Foxtail Lilies

The bulb and old roots attached to the bulb are often large. They can be brittle and therefore delicate, handle them with care. Dig the planting hole 6-12″ wide to allow for plenty of space for the roots to spread as they grow. Plant the bulbs 2″ deep. The pointed end of the bulb is where the growth will emerge from and should be facing toward the sky. For best results, plant Foxtail Lily bulbs in early fall – September to October is ideal.

Grow Stunning Glowing Blooms

Cleopatra Foxtail Lilies

Cleopatra Foxtail Lilies

These stunning flowers are sure to have your neighbors talking. They appear on tall stems, and the base of the plant can be a bit bare. Therefore, it is best to plant low to medium-growing perennials in front of them. Cranesbill Geranium, Butterfly Weed, Salvia, Daylilies, and Veronica are all excellent companion plants to include with these show-stopping early summer blooms. Once they have established themselves in the garden they will continue to impress for years to come.


Looking for more unique bulbs to plant this fall? Learn all about growing Lycoris here.


Need Gardening Help?

If you need any help with gardening or if you have plant-related questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Jenny San Filippo. She can provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed with your next project!

Contact Jenny

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