There are more than 200 hybrids of lilies. This high number offers the gardener a variety of colors and forms. Some are large, miniature, and noted for fragrance. Lilies have a long bloom time, are easy to grow, and make an excellent cutting flower. Just as the gardener enjoys the beauty of lilies, they are also a delicacy for deer.
One type of bulb lily that thrives in Northern gardens is the martagon. Martagon lilies have delicate upside down blooms. They grow well in dappled shade in rich fluffy soil. Grown by private breeders, Martagons are pricey. Despite the cost, Martagons are an interesting and carefree lily to grow in your garden. Individual stems are sturdy with dark green leaves that do not require staking. Once established, the bulbs will form bulbils that will mature into a blooming lily. Be patient, it takes 2-3 years for the bulbils to bloom. Left alone the plant will produce more bulbs and additional lilies. No additional care is required other than cutting back the yellowed stems in late summer.
Dealers advertise the bulbs as ready to bloom. If the dealer does not state this, ask the question if the bulbs are guaranteed to bloom during the next gardening season. Plant the mature bulbs as you would plant tulip or daffodil bulbs in late August through September but not later than October since the bulbs need time to develop roots. Mulch the ground above the bulb plantings for the first winter. Martagon lilies come up later than the spring bulbs for a rewarding midsummer bloom.
Martagons come in pale yellow, freckled orange, and a deep burgundy bloom called Claude Shride. The deep burgundy color makes a dramatic garden statement. The delicate, upside down blooms will evoke garden envy from friends.