Garden enthusiasts love the stargazer lily. Or if we’re being technical, Lilium ‘Stargazer.’ This Oriental lily is known for its fragrant scent and peak blooms in late summer. The large, flat petals give this flower its recognizable shape. Read on to learn more.
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The Stargazer is likely the flower picture when you hear the word lily. For this reason, they make beautiful garden blooms and cut flowers. They are also known to attract an array of butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.
Want to incorporate these beauties into your yard? Don’t worry, today’s hybrids are a cinch to grow. Just follow our complete guide below.
What Are Stargazer Lilies?
Stargazers are Oriental Hybrid lilies. They were developed in the 1970s by Leslie Woodriff, who named the blooms after their upward-facing position.
Technically, these are Lilium ‘Stargazer’ flowers, but they are known as their common name: Stargazer Lilies.
Stargazers have many lily relatives, including:
- Growling Lilies
- Wild Lilies
- Asiatic Hybrid Lilies
- Tiger Lilies
- Trumpet Lilies.
Stargazers are found in an array of flower colors, so they are popular lily flowers among florists and avid gardeners. Primarily, they are found in white, yellow, and red, and pink.
They are most closely related to other Oriental Hybrid lilies. In this family, you’ll find Black Beauties, which are found in a dark raspberry and red hue. Casa Blancas are also members of this family.
These white flowers grow three to four feet tall and one foot wide. The last Oriental hybrid is the Mona Lisa. They are similar in color to the Stargazer but are not found in white. They also grow a bit taller at 16 to 18 inches tall.
Note: The ASPCA reports stargazer lilies are toxic to cats. They can cause vomiting, lethargy, kidney failure, and even death. You may want to avoid this species if you have feline pets at home.
How and When to Plant Stargazer Lilies
Yes, it’s a little bit of work now, but planting Stargazer Lilies will pay off dividends in your garden. The perennial species will return next year, and each year after that.
And, the bulbs grow bigger each year, meaning you’ll have a more beautiful display of blooms as time goes on. Early spring is the best time to buy and plant Stargazer Lily bulbs.
- Purchase high-quality bulbs (there is a large assortment for affordable pricing on Amazon). Only plant healthy-looking, sizable bulbs that are free from any rotting.
- Select a location that has full sun and well-drained loamy or sandy soil.
- When mature, these fragrant blooms can grow as high as 36 inches. They will also spread between 10 and 14 inches, sprouting two to eight flowers per stem.
Note that while the blooms like heat, the bulbs should be kept cool, so plant them among other plants that shade the ground area.
Tip: Want to show off your Stargazer in a cut flower arrangement? Snip off the pollen to extend its life.
How to Care for Stargazer Lilies
The upward-facing flowers get their name from their “stargazing” position. That’s because of these beauties like a lot of sun — at least eight hours per day. If absolutely necessary, they can tolerate partial shade.
But because of this, the stems will have a higher growth rate (stretching taller to the sun). In this case, staking the stems is necessary so that these beauties don’t bend over.
These types of lilies do best in a slightly acidic medium soil. If you have a neutral soil, feed your blooms an acidic fertilizer to help them do their best.
Keep your soil moist at all times (but not soggy, which can cause the bulbs to rot). Depending on your climate, give your lilies one inch of water per week. Adjust your watering on rainfall, and don’t water overhead, which can damage the blossoms.
If you live in a mainly dry climate, mulching can help keep the soil moist. Your lilies will look their best in mid summer when temperatures reach 80 to 90 degrees each day.
When your flowers are done blooming, and all that is left are the stamens, you’ll want to deadhead each flower. This prevents the creation of seed pods.
Like other bulb plants, you’ll want to keep your lilies standing as long as its foliage is green. Once everything turns brown at the end of summer, cut the plants to ground level.
Tip: The noticeable pollen on Star lilies can stain clothing and skin. Take care to wear gloves and wear work clothes when caring for these plants.
How to Plant Stargazer Lilies in Pots
Anytime can be summertime if you plant your stargazer lily plant in a container. They can thrive indoors with a little bit of time and care. First, you’ll want to choose the right pot.
The container should be at least 6.5-inches in diameter to be able to grow healthy lilies. It also needs good drainage. For this reason, choose a porous material, avoiding things like unglazed clay. Then:
- Fill the container with a well-drained soil mixture. Your local garden center can help you select the right blend. In general, a mixture of three parts garden soil, one part sand, and two parts peat moss make the right combination for indoor lilies.
- Avoid soil mixes that contain superphosphate. This can cause leaf burning in Stargazer lilies. A soil pH level between 6.5 and 6.9 is best for starting bulbs.
- Plant your bulbs in the center about five or six inches beneath the soil. Cover well and water gently.
- Now, if you want to get your Valentine a pink lily on February 14, there is a way to force blooming at a particular time. But, it takes some careful planting. First, you’ll need to chill your bulbs in the refrigerator for about 12 weeks. (Keep them away from fruits and veggies whose off-gassing can effect bulbs.)
- Then, plant them 90 days before you want them to bloom.
So for Valentine’s day, start chilling your bulbs in early September, then plant them around Thanksgiving. You should be blooming right on time for Cupid!
Should You Plant Stargazer Lilies?
Stargazer Lilies are beautiful oriental hybrid flowers developed in the 1970s. Their blooms are named for their upward-facing appearance. While they’re not for every climate, they look darn good when they’re a feature in your garden.