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Extension Communications
Extension 4-H Youth Building
Ames, Iowa 50011-3630
(515) 294-9915


Linda Naeve, Reiman Gardens, (515) 294-8946,
Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033,

For the week of May 31, 2004

'Stargazer' Lilies Look and Smell Heavenly

By Linda Naeve
Extension Coordinator
Reiman Gardens

One of the benefits of a flower garden is the fragrance and beauty you can bring inside your home with your own supply of fresh cut flowers throughout the summer. This week's Reiman's Pick, 'Stargazer' lily, is one of the most spectacular cut flowers you can grow at home and one of the most expensive if you were to buy them from a florist.

The 'Stargazer' lily is the most popular of the Oriental type lilies, and easily outperforms other lilies. For example, the blooms of these lilies are larger and more fragrant than those of Asiatic lilies; Oriental lilies also grow taller and bloom later in the summer than Asiatic lilies.

'Stargazers' produce six to nine large blooms - often 6 to 8 inches is diameter - on the ends of two to three-feet tall stems. The flowers open over a two-week period with satiny petals that are deep crimson-pink with white margins. The sweet fragrance of a 'Stargazer' lily is so strong it quickly fills a room.

The 'Stargazer' lily was introduced in 1978 by Mr. Leslie Woodriff, an independent lily grower and breeder. He named it 'Stargazer' because of its large, upward-facing blooms. Within 25 years, it became the most popular lily in the world and is used extensively by the floral industry in flower arrangements and bridal bouquets. 'Stargazer' set the stage for many of the beautiful lilies we enjoy today.

One would think a plant this spectacular would be difficult to grow, but to the contrary, it is not difficult to add this lily to your garden. 'Stargazer' is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. It requires a location that receives full sun and has a well-drained soil. Bulbs of hardy Oriental and Asiatic lilies should be planted in the fall or early summer. Companies that sell lily bulbs have given them the required cold treatment necessary for flowering so they will bloom the first summer after planting.

For the best effect in a border garden, plant 'Stargazer' lilies in the middle or back of the garden in groups of five bulbs. Plant the bulbs four to six inches deep and eight to 12 inches apart. Since lilies are a tasty treat for rabbits, plant them among other perennials that aren't bothered by rabbits, such as purple coneflowers and oriental poppies.

Although the stems on 'Stargazer' lilies are fairly strong, it is a good idea to stake them once they reach the height of a foot or above to provide extra support for its heavy flower load.

If you can sacrifice the beauty 'Stargazer' lilies add to your garden, cut them to enjoy indoors. Never remove more than the top half of the stem to preserve the foliage needed to replenish food reserves in the bulb. Immediately after cutting, remove the yellow, pollen-laden anthers in the flowers. This will allow the blooms to last longer and will avoid pollen stains on clothes and tablecloths. Allow the stems left in the garden to continue growing through the remainder of the season.

You can see 'Stargazer' lilies in the lovely garden display in the conservatory at Reiman Gardens. Whether in the garden or a vase, they provide a sensory treat with their beautiful blooms and intoxicating fragrance.


Editors: A color photo, suitable for publication, is available at right. Click on the thumbnail photo to go to the fullsized photo. The picture's fullsize photo is 420K.

Caption: 'Stargazer' lilies add spectacular beauty and fragrance in the garden and as a cut flower inside your home. Each stem yields six to nine large, six-inch diameter blooms. The bulbs of these popular Oriental lilies are easy to grow when planted in early summer or fall in a sunny, well-drained location.

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