Foxtail Lily – Not your Ordinary Lily

Thereby Hangs a Tail!

Foxtail Lilies are from the Liliaceae family and the Eremurus genus.  They are also known as the Desert Candle and are perennial plants that grow from tuberous roots.  An excellent choice for structural height in a flower bed, Foxtail lilies also look great in front of a wall, as part of a striking border or in a cut-flower bed.

One of the things I love best about Foxtail Lilies is that they are not as common as the Oriental Lily, Asiatic Lily, or Daylilies.  They have not been in my garden before, but I intend to be adding 3 this fall.  I look forward to cutting them for my vase in early summer, before my Lilies and Gladiolus bloom!  I am going to plant them near my Globemaster Allium which also blooms in the late spring and early summer.

The leaves of the Foxtail Lily are like clusters of swords that come up from the base of the plant and then produce flower stalks that average from 3-8 feet in height.  They usually do not need staking, but should still be somewhat protected from strong winds.  Individual flowers are bell-shaped, approx. 1 inch wide, and crowded into tall spire-like spikes, with hundreds of flowers per stalk.

Eremoro (Candela del deserto) - Foxtail Lilies

The flowers bloom in shades of pink, orange, red, yellow and white. Blossoms begin appearing during the late spring to the middle of summer and last for two to three weeks.  They make excellent cut flowers (be sure to cut when only half the florets have opened on the stalk).  They are definitely hardy in zones 5-8, but if well mulched and protected can grow well into zones 4 and 9 as well.


When planting the Foxtail lily bulb, choose a sunny location in well-draining soil.  These bulbs should be planted in fall before the ground is frozen.  It is best if to add compost or other organic matter as  adequate drainage is important. Like most bulbs, they are somewhat susceptible to rotting or fungus issues if they are kept too wet.  Dig the hole approximately 5-6″ deep and 8-10″ apart.  When covering roots, be sure to have the crown or bud facing up with a couple of inches of soil over the top.  Handle roots with care since they tend to be on the brittle side.

I believe I will plant three of the Pinnokio Foxtail which grow up to 5 feet tall, as I’m needing something with height in that area of my garden.  It’s bright orangery-yellow color will go well with all of my purple Allium!   At this point, the Bungei Foxtail which tops out at about 6 feet tall or the  Romance Foxtail, which is very appropriately named with its pale pink color, are also unique and tall, but I’m just not finding the right space for them in my garden yet.

Perhaps you can find a spot for one (or two or three 🙂 of these amazing plants in your garden this year, too!

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6 Responses to Foxtail Lily – Not your Ordinary Lily

  1. Diane Malo says:

    I live in Quebec Canada. What zone is the Foxtail Lily, is our climate too cold ?

    • Gabrielle says:

      Hi Diane! They are supposed to be hardy up to 30 below zero. If you think it would work – I still suggest covering with mulch in the colder areas.

  2. Carolyn says:

    When I bought my foxtail lily bulb, I was directed to clip the tips of the roots of the dry bulb before planting. I did this, but now can’t find any mention of this online. Will it be okay?

    • Gabrielle says:

      I get what they were thinking, but I have no idea if it is necessary or helpful or harmful. I have heard of Orchid growers doing this, but not with any other plant. I assume you bought them from a company other than Tulip World. Sorry I can not be of more help!

  3. Peggy says:

    I am, looking for Foxtail lilly flowers to buy I don’t seem to be able to find them any suggestions? in ca. s.f. bay area. thanks.

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