Martagon lilies grow well in sun but they are truly the darlings of the shade garden. In Minnesota they are the first in our parade of lilies, usually in bloom around "Father's Day" in the middle of June. Many martagon species and hybrids do well in our Zone 3-4 growing conditions. They are colorful and long-lived additions to our gardens.Once established, they are like peonies in that they need not be disturbed for many years. A mature clump of martagon lilies is a horticultural show-stopper! NSLS makes martagon lilies available to the public at our Fall Lily Bulb Sale in October one the best times to transplant martagon bulbs.

Growing Martagon Lilies
Gene Fox, Past President, North American Lily Society

If you have never grown a martagon species or martagon hybrid lily before, you may be in for a surprise. Clumps of martagons have been known to exist in one site for over 100 years. So, once happily established, they may be problem-free for a lifetime.
Some other facts:

  • Martagons cost more than Asiatic, Trumpet or Oriental lilies. It takes an average of 7 years to grow one from seed. It takes about four years to grow a saleable bulb from bulblets.
  • Martagons need a shady "home" with filtered sunlight or a site with only a couple of hours of full sun. Complete, heavy shade is not suitable. Remember to mulch the first year.
  • Bulbs should be planted with about 4" of soil over the top of them. Add compost to the soil when planting.

Martagons may take 1 to 2 years to adjust to their new site after transplanting.

The first year:
  • They may grow weakly or only 1-2 feet tall and have only 2-blooms
  • They may start to grow, then abruptly turn brown and die back
  • They may not appear above ground at all the first year

The above possibilities are normal for martagons. The bulbs will send up fairly normal flower stalk in year two. The thing to do is to mark the planting spot and leave the bulbs alone the first year. Few people can do that. Some will dig up the bulb to see if it is doing all right. Digging it up sets it back another year or may even kill it.

Martagon bulbs must be left alone during year one after transplanting!!!

Martagons! CD

Born in Minnesota in 2003, the "Martagons!" CD evolved into a collection of more than 350 photos of over 150 different martagon species, named hybrids and some out-standing yet-to-be-named seedlings. The RHS Lily Register listing for martagons was included. There are five articles that cover martagon culture, seed germination, suggestions and data about the more likely seed producers among martagon cultivars, as well as articles that discuss the hybridizing of martagons with American lilies ("MartAms") and also with Asiatic lilies ("MartAsians"). We also included a list of martagon seed and bulb sources as well as a section called "Martagon Trivia" with some items that may well stimulate more discussion.

In 2012, in order to expand the international scope of our project, NSLS donated the contents of our Martagons! CD to the North American Lily Society so that it may be made available to their web site:

Articles are in PDF format, and may be downloaded from the NALS web site. Contributors to this project are from the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Germany and Latvia. Transitioning the CD to the NALS web site has met our goal of making this a product from gardeners worldwide for gardeners worldwide.

The North American Lily Society plans to continue to build the "Martagons!" web page into a premier resource for anything concerning Lilium martagon and its hybrids. As more photos become available to them they plan to add them to their site.They also hope to add more articles from worldwide contributors that will continue to shed light on different aspects of growing martagons. We look forward to the continuing evolution of the Martagons! project.

Visit our Facebook site and check for Society updates.

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