Lilies are some of the most popular flowers that can be found on the planet. For proof, look no further than the wide range of meanings that lilies have managed to pick up for a wide range of cultures in a wide range of times and places. One excellent example would be how the ancient Greeks associated lilies with the goddess Hera, who breastfed an infant presented to her by the goddess Athena because she was moved to pity by a story of how the infant had been abandoned to die out in the wild. Supposedly, one drop of milk dropped to the ground, thus becoming the first such flower. Likewise, another excellent example would be Easter lilies, which are a popular symbol of Easter because they are said to have sprung up from the sweat of Jesus when he was praying on the night before his crucifixion. There are numerous other stories about how lilies came into existence as well as what lilies symbolize, which is something that speaks volumes about their lasting popularity.
With that said, it is important to note that lilies aren’t a single species of flowering plants or even a set of related species of flowering plants. Instead, true lilies are an entire genus called Lilium, which consists of members that can be found in a huge swathe of Eurasia as well as another huge swathe of the Americas. On top of these true lilies, there are also other species that are called lilies but are categorized under other genera, with examples including but not limited to arum-lilies, day-lilies, and water-lilies. Combined, these flowering plants make for a remarkable range of sizes, shapes, colors, habitats, and other relevant characteristics, meaning that there is bound to be something out there for interested gardeners.
However, humans have never been content with the plants that can be found in nature, so it should come as no surprise to learn that interested gardeners have been hybridizing lilies for a very long time. Due to this, there is even more variation in lilies than what would nature has produced, which is something that might interest those who are curious about the full range of options that are available to them. For an example of hybridization, look no further than the so-called stargazer lily.
What Is the Stargazer Lily?
In short, the stargazer lily is a hybrid that is counted as one of the Oriental lilies. Generally speaking, Oriental lilies are late bloomers, meaning that they tend to show up sometime between mid summer and late summer. Moreover, they tend to have a pleasing smell as well as bigger flowers that stand out to the sense of sight, which make it no wonder that they are popular choices for interested gardeners. On the whole, stargazer lilies are perfectly capable of living up to the expectations laid out by other Oriental lilies, though of course, they have their own particular characteristics as well.
For example, stargazer lilies are pink lilies with a white fringe to them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this means that they can be mistaken a number of other lilies. In particular, it is worth mentioning the rubrum lily, which was actually the predecessor to the stargazer lily. What made the two varieties different from one another is the fact that the rubrum lily tended to point downwards, which made it unpopular with a wide range of consumers because it created the impression that it was wilted even when it was not. As a result, a lily breeder by the name of Leslie Woodriff used the rubrum lily to create a new hybrid with upward-facing flowers, thus resulting in what is now called the stargazer lily to reflect this fact.
Moving on, it is interesting to note that the stargazer lily’s scent is a subject of interest as well. For most people, the smell is pleasing to their senses. However, there are some people who have much less pleasant reactions to the smell, so much so that they have been known to report everything from nausea and headaches to breathing problems when they come into contact with it. While their numbers are relatively low, said individuals’ plight was taken seriously enough for a California-based flower farm called Sun Valley Farms to bring a fragranceless version of the stargazer lily into existence for people who liked its look but couldn’t stand its smell. Unfortunately, said version proved to be a failure because there was insufficient demand for such flowers, with the result that they have long since been discontinued.
Finally, it is worth mentioning something about the potential uses for the stargazer lily. On their own, the plants themselves aren’t particularly impressive, which is wholly unsurprising when they were never meant to be impressive under such conditions. However, that impression tends to reverse in an instant when interested individuals see the flowers that have bloomed. Partly, this is because the flowers are big, bold, and beautiful, so much so that there are very few varieties of flowers out there that can match them when it comes to sheer presence. However, it should also be mentioned that a single stem can hold between two and eight flowers, thus making for an even more striking impression than otherwise possible. Combined, these characteristics mean that stargazer lilies are very popular choices with which to create focal points in a garden. Moreover, they have various other uses as well, with examples range from being used as cut flowers for ornamental purposes elsewhere to being used to bring in the bees as well as other pollinators.
What Do You Need to Know About Growing Stargazer Lilies?
Here are some things to keep in mind when planting stargazer lilies:
- They Can Reach a Height of 36 Inches – It is important to note that stargazer lilies can reach a height of about 36 inches. This doesn’t make them the tallest flowers out there, but it does make them taller than a fair number of the other options that can be found out there. Moreover, it should be mentioned that stargazer lilies have a spread of between 10 and 14 inches, which is considerable. In any case, this is critical information for interested gardeners who want to plant their stargazer lilies such that they will get sufficient space for them to show to best effect. Furthermore, it is even more important for people choosing to plant in containers rather than the garden, seeing as how they should be going for something with a diameter of 6.5 inches at the very least.
- Buy the Bulbs in Spring – People grow stargazer lilies from bulbs. Generally speaking, the best time to buy these bulbs would be the spring, which should provide interested individuals with plenty of time to see them grown into their fully glory. When buying bulbs, interested individuals will want to pick up the ones that are not just healthy-looking but also at a good size as well, which should bode well for their future prospects. Naturally, this means that they should avoid anything that looks like it is harboring signs of rot, which is a definite warning sign to choose something else.
- Planting in the Garden – Stargazer lilies aren’t particularly fragile plants, but they definitely still need the right conditions for them to do their best. As for what those conditions should be, well, one would be well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter in it while another would be good exposure to the sun, meaning full sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon. On top of this, the bulbs should be planted about 6 to 7 inches deep at a distance of 5 to 6 inches between one another before receiving some careful watering for the best results.
- Planting in Containers – Similar to when planting them in the garden, planting stargazer lilies in containers should result in a depth of about 5 to 6 inches. Once again, well-drained soil is critical, as is a container that isn’t made out of a porous material such as unglazed clay. For people who aren’t sure what kind of soil mixture is best for their stargazer lilies, they shouldn’t hesitate to contact their local gardening store to ask about something perfect for these plants. Lilies and stargazer lilies are very popular plants, meaning that this is actually a pretty reliable way to get a good recommendation for interested individuals.
- Be Careful with the Fertilizing and the Watering – Both over-fertilizing and over-watering are serious issues when it comes to caring for stargazer lilies. When it comes to fertilizing, the general recommendation is that interested individuals fertilize the plants once a month from the time that they are planted in the early spring to until they finish flowering. However, interested individuals should also make sure to follow the instructions provided with their specific brand of fertilizer, which are there for a very good reason. As for watering, make sure to water until the soil is moist rather than soggy, which is problematic because it can lead to the bulbs rotting away.
- Deadhead the Flowers and Cut Brown Leaves – It is important to deadhead the flowers once they are fading out of bloom. This is performed so that the plant won’t spend its available resources on the development of the seeds rather than the development of the flowers, thus making for a more vibrant look for the whole thing than otherwise possible. As for how deadheading is done, there are a couple of simple methods. One would be pinching the flower just below the spent flower but above the first set of healthy leaves, while another would be actually removing the spent flower altogether. As for the leaves of the stargazer lily, don’t remove those until they have turned brown. After they have done so, feel free to either cut them or otherwise remove them. Combined, these two procedures might be time-consuming, particularly if interested individuals have planted a lot of stargazer lilies that are going to need maintenance. However, they should make for more beautiful blossoms than otherwise possible.
- Provide Support As Needed – Speaking of blossoms, one of the downsides to having bigger than normal flowers is that they can get pretty heavy relative to the weight-bearing capabilities of the stem. Due to this, it isn’t unknown for the stems of stargazer lilies to start bending when they start to bloom, which causes them to lose their characteristic look. To prevent that from happening, interested individuals might want to provide support using a bamboo stake or a wooden stake so that their flowers can continue looking their best.
What Are Some Other Things to Keep in Mind About Stargazer Lilies?
On a final note, it should be mentioned that cat owners will have to exercise increased care and caution when it comes to planting stargazer lilies in their gardens. This is because true lilies, which include stargazer lilies, are a very serious hazard for cats.
In short, true lilies have a very negative effect on cats when eaten. Some examples of potential symptoms range from lethargy and hiding to diarrhea, dehydration, and a lack of appetite. These symptoms should be cause for serious concern on the part of cat owners with either stargazer lilies or some other kind of true lily because they are capable of killing the cats that ingest them. Even worse, it doesn’t take a great deal of exposure for cats to start coming down with serious issues because there are reports of something as minor as eating a couple of petals or leaves or even coming into contact with the water in the vase causing such issues. Should these problems be ignored, it is possible for cats to suffer from kidney failure, which is very much a life-threatening outcome.