Eremurus robustus
Common Name: giant desert candle
Type: Bulb
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Native Range: Central Asia, Afghanistan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 5.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Pale pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Grow in organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants perform well in sandy loams. Good drought tolerance. Avoid unamended clay soils. Starfish-shaped rootstock consists of a central crown from which fleshy tapering roots spread outward. Plant each crown 4-6” deep over a mound of soil, carefully spreading the finger-like roots over the mound as one would plant a bare root rose. Space 2-3’ apart. Best planted in early fall. Soils must be well-drained or root rot may occur. Best in locations protected from strong winds because of the height of the flower spike. Tall stalks should be staked. Winter mulch will help protect tuberous roots and help prevent damage to young foliage in spring from late frosts. In years where late frosts occur, additional steps should be taken to protect the young foliage (e.g., cover with waste basket or cardboard box). Foliage goes dormant in summer after bloom. Reduce soil moisture as dormancy occurs. Plants may be divided every 3-4 years.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Eremurus robustus, commonly called desert candle or foxtail lily, is a robust perennial that features giant, upright, cylindrical flower spires (terminal racemes to 3-4' long) of fragrant, densely-packed, pale pink flowers (each flower to 1.5" wide). Each flower spire purportedly resembles a giant fox tail or giant candle. Flowers bloom in late spring to early summer (June-July) atop leafless flowering stalks (to 8-10' tall) rising well above large foliage clumps (to 4' tall) of basal, strap-shaped, blue-green leaves (each leaf to 4" wide). Individual flowers have six, showy, petal-like, pale-pink tepals and bright yellow stamens. Leaves die back in mid-summer after flowering as the plant goes into dormancy. Species is native to central Asia.

Genus name comes from the Greek words eremia meaning desert and oura meaning a tail for the appearance of the flower spike.

Specific epithet means stout or strong in growth.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot may occur in poorly drained clay soils. Watch for slugs. This plant can be difficult to grow well in the St. Louis climate.

Garden Uses

Best flower display usually occurs in front of a dark background (e.g. dark green shrubs). Border rears. Vertical Accents. Cut flowers.