Himalayan Foxtail Lilies

In the autumn of 2020 I planted three strange roots that reminded me of an octopus – Eremurus himalaicus, Himalayan Foxtail Lilies.

Here is a photo I found online which shows what I mean about the octopus…

They were carefully positioned in the new Moon Bed, between the giant white Alliums ‘Mount Everest’ – after all, I wanted them to feel at home! 😉

Well, in the spring of 2021 only one showed any signs of life, with no flower. So I had more or less written them off. But this spring three clumps of leaves appeared mid-April. Hooray!

They are a bit difficult to distinguish from the allium foliage in this photo

One fell victim to slugs I think, but soon buds appeared on the other two plants. The excitement mounted, and suddenly the buds seemed to have doubled in size overnight! (Things like that happen here in May! 😉)

Or tripled?! This photo was taken on the 13th of May.

My attention was now well and truly focussed and I have been checking them daily since. By May 16th these imposing and majestic spikes had just started to open…

May 16th

The next day a few more flowers opened from the bottom upwards, clambering towards the blue skies…

May 17th

They love sunny, dry spots, and I have heard them called ‘Desert Candles’, as well as ‘Cleopatra’s Needles’. Maybe you know them by those names? Eremurus himalaicus was the first of the lilies to be taken to Europe in the early 19th century. It is also the earliest flowering one.

By May 18th both stems were open over halfway…


The bees like it too. 😃

On May 19th they were almost completely open. Who would have thought just two plants could make such an impression!

Well, here we are on May 21st, and I am completely bowled over by these flowers.

It is a plant with character, shining out above most of the other plants. It has presence. Whereas with other favourites  my reaction might be to grow more of them in a clump, with the Himalaya Foxtail I feel these two flowers are enough to make a statement. Well, three would also be lovely of course, and perhaps the third one will flower next year. I have since read that they can take a year or two to get started. But there are several other species that have different coloured flowers, some of them even taller than these…. perhaps I will be tempted to try some orange or yellow ones in another part of the garden. 😉

This is one of the loveliest plants I have ever grown. 😃

Would you give this plant space in your garden? Or perhaps you already grow them?


47 thoughts on “Himalayan Foxtail Lilies

    • Oh, I do hope you find some one day Chris. Apparently they need a bit of mulch over them in winter, but I didn’t know that and they have survived two winters so far. 😃

  1. Oh my gosh I love it! You’ve done an excellent job of finding just the right spot because from what I’ve heard they can be difficult if things aren’t perfectly to their liking. What a show!

    • Well, I didn’t know they could be tricky and I also didn’t do any special preparation of the soil (as I have since found out would be beneficial). Maybe that was the secret… just go for it! LOL! 😃

    • I don’t think they are related to lilies at all, so I don’t know why they got that name. In the last couple of years I have been finding lots of white flowers I love too, although I used to think I didn’t like white in the garden!

    • I had no idea what I had been missing out on… my Mum grew them last year but I don’t think I ever did see a photo of them. So they were a complete surprise. 😃

  2. What a wonderful sight, Cathy – and thanks for sharing your exciting journey with us. I only ever tried them once, but with no success, although it was many years ago and before I acquired the gardening knowledge I seem to have now 😉 My Everest tend to struggle, sadly, but I do have one bloom this year… 😊

    • Beginner’s luck, as I had no idea they can be tricky to grow. Hope they come back next year. I still haven’t given up on the third one as it did produce foliage at least. These alliums make up for the loss of all my purple ones (about 20) in the Butterfly Bed. Mice? Voles? There is no trace of them at all!

  3. What a stunner! I like your restraint when you mention these two beauties may be enough in your garden, as they do make a bold statement. I tend to overdo it sometimes, thinking more is better, and the impact can indeed be lessened. I have never seen this lily before, and boy am I impressed! 🙂

    • It is impressive, isn’t it! They have put on such a lovely show, but recent rain has now spoilt the flower spikes somewhat and they are slowly going over. Big sigh! Hope they come back next year!

  4. Wow! You must be over the moon with them Cathy. What an impact they make and must look great when it is getting darker too. Would like to try them but I don’t think I could find favourable growing conditions.

    • Yes, they are especially visible at dusk, along with the alliums. Moonlight on that bed is also lovely, but I am not skilled enough to photograph it.

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