Did You Hear the One About the Toad Lilies?

Did you hear the one about the two toad lilies, Tricrytis sp., that hopped into my cart as a cruised very quickly through the big box hardware store?

True story, it happened just yesterday. I was kind of surprised, too, because I was moving fairly quickly up and down the aisles looking for pansies, even though I had just purchased pansies at a local greenhouse and had no plans to buy more. I was just curious to see if they had any and how much they were. Anyway, in spite of the speed at which I was moving, the toad lilies somehow still found my cart.

With one big hop, those two toad lilies set in motion a whole chain of events in my garden, as new plants often do.

First, I had to figure out where to plant them in my back yard, where shade is still a scarce commodity. I managed to find some shade, right where some tall sedum were flopped to the ground. It’s a bit sunnier than I’d like it to be, but just like a dieter who buys a size smaller because it won’t be long before she can wear that next smaller size, I decided to plant the toad lilies there anyway, hoping that by next summer there will be more shade in that spot.

Having picked my spot, I removed the tall sedum by cutting them back and then digging them out. I had already decided that those tall sedum plants were not doing well there because of the shade and should be removed, so having the toad lilies to plant just made me do it sooner rather than later. Yes, I cut them out while they were in full bloom. With bees on them. And I threw them onto the compost pile. I might have broken some kind of rule or maybe several rules by doing that but the two toad lilies were not to be denied their shade!

After I pulled out the tall sedum, I added a few scoops of good compost that I had harvested a few days earlier from my compost tumbler. It’s good to have some compost on hand because you never know, toad lilies might hop into your cart next.

I then proceeded to pull the first toad lily out of its pot and realized that I could probably divide it into three plants, which I proceeded to do using a special knife I bought just for dividing perennials. I love that knife and I love gardener’s math because we get to divide plants to multiply them! It’s sort of a riddle. How does dividing something give you more of it?

Then I planted up my now four toad lilies, watered them in well, and remulched that area.

The now three toad lilies are Tricyrtis ‘Taipei Silk’, sold as Arctic Orchid™ Toad lily,

And the one I didn’t divide is Tricyrtis ‘Blue Wonder’.
I also made up a slide show* to demonstrate what happened once I got the toad lilies home if you are more of a visual person.

Plus, it might come in handy if any toad lilies hop into your cart this fall!

*I used Picasa to create the slide show and upload it to YouTube. The pictures are a little fuzzier than I'd like, as are the title slides, but it was very easy to do.


  1. Toadlilies are so wonderful. You'll be much happier with them in the shade than the floppy Sedum. And since when did 'Tapei Silk' get a phony-baloney, I mean trade, name? And what's wrong with the name 'Tapei Silk'?

  2. Oh, I sure hope that some toad lilies will hop into my cart one day, and I'll be happy to find them a home in my garden, too! ;-)

  3. You are brave to divide your toadlily like that. I usually lose one or so when I do this so I have been leaving my plants together. Great tute...

  4. That was a lot of sedum Carol. I do not have toad lilies. I guess I could if they are that fast and can jump a good distance....Enjoyed the slideshow, I like to see more of your gardens.

  5. It's always a relief to hear that I'm not the only gardener who buys stuff and THEN has to figure out where to put it. It would be hard for me to rip out anything that's blooming--because I appreciate almost anything that bothers to grow in our climate, even weeds. But I have done it, so I understand the impulse.

    I like your slide show instructions. It's satisfying to make divisions of just bought plants and end up with twice as many as you paid for.

  6. Carol -- I've been using a serrated bread knife for years to divide perennials. Got it for $.50 at a garage sale.

  7. New plants always start a chain of events in my garden. Did you find a place in your garden for the sedum? Did you have to move another plant or two?

    The slide show was great. Thanks.

  8. I can't believe those sedum wound up in your compost pile! I just might have to google Maydreams Gardens on that earth imaging thingamajig and find your compost pile:)

    I'm going to have to look for a knife like that; it certainly would make my plant dividing much easier. But first I think I'd better clear out a little space in the garden and turn the compost pile in case any lonesome plants decide to hop in my shopping cart!

  9. A toad lily recently found its way to my front door, via Mr. McGregor's Daughter, and I'm thrilled with the new arrival! And you're right about gardener's math...dividing equals more! It's great!

  10. I noticed my sedum plants sprawling a bit. Too much rainy weather. Maybe I'll move the to full sun.

  11. I noticed my sedum plants sprawling a bit. Too much rainy weather. Maybe I'll move the to full sun.

  12. I think it's a sign of experience when you are willing to throw plants that are not performing well (and that you have more of, for pity's sake!) on the compost pile. Experience teaches you that it's not worth your time to find a new home for a poor performer, though if a fellow gardener were right there, you of course would have offered that sedum to him or her. More of that gardener's math.

  13. Amazing how those plants just leap into our carts! They are good looking flowers. You'll love them and they will be happier then the sedum. After seeing the 3 foot tall, gorgeous, standing up straight and tall Autumn Joy at a friend's garden....I am thinking seriously of tossing mine in the compost heap, too. gail

  14. I've never heard of toad lilies, so I enjoyed the slide show and the photos. Those plants do have a way of jumping into the shopping cart!!


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