Strange Name

This post, “Strange Name” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Some plants can have very strange names.  One of those is Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta).  The name evidently has come from the splotches on the attractive flowers.

Toad lilies are a fairly recent discovery for me.  I did not think they would grow here, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how well they have done for me.  Very often, plants that are labeled zone 8 or 9 and are sold here are meant for areas that have cooler summers.  My first toad lilies were bought at a nursery nearby.  I had just seen them in a plant catalog, so I decided to try them out.  I wanted to use this plant because the catalog said they would take shade, and I had a lot of shade.  In the fall they put out their purple flowers along the stem right next to the leaves.  These toad lilies did very well, though I was a little worried when the plant went dormant that fall.  I was relieved when I saw that they were coming up the next spring.  I had collected seeds and planted them in the spring.  I ended up with about 24 toad lily plants that I shared with my sister and daughter. 


Fast forward to the late winter of 2005.  My neighbor was moving out of town and let me have some of her toad lilies that have a gold edge.  I just planted them in a pot until spring.  These toad lilies have not gone dormant.  They also display their flowers on tall stalks.  These, too, have done very well for me.  In fact, I probably need to divide them soon.


Theses low growing plants are best placed in the front of the border where they can be seen.  They bloom in late September when few other plants are showing new flowers.  They are invaluable for a shady garden.  They only require moist soil, and can grow in partial to full shade (mine hardly get any sun at all). 

Nothing seems to bother these plants, they thrive in shade, and are prolific fall bloomers.  So despite the rather unattractive name, I am glad I took a chance on a Toad Lily.



  1. March 14, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I have some toad lilies, too. They are the last flowers to bloom in my garden in the fall, even after we’ve had some frost. Mine, of course, go completely dormant and are cut back to the ground each year. They always come back.

    My problem is that my suburban doesn’t have enough shade!

    There is one area in my garden that now has too much sun for the toad lilies, so I will have to move them this spring. Luckily, I have areas of shade to put them, but it does leave that section without fall blooming plants. Only one type of my toad lilies goes dormant, the other two types have stayed on through the winter. Of course, we don’t get the same type of winter as you do.

  2. Nancy said,

    March 15, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Toad lilies sound like they’d be good in my garden as well. I’ve lots of shade and not many flowering plants there. Thanks for the recommendation!

    I don’t think you can go wrong with toad lilies, Nancy. They are great.

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