Tricyrtis 'Empress'
Common Name: toad lily 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Liliaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: White with dark purple spotting
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy


Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers moist, organically rich, humusy, slightly acidic soils in part shade. Soil must not be allowed to dry out. This is a stoloniferous plant that will colonize in the garden over time in a non-invasive manner. A light winter mulch will help protect roots.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tricyrtis, commonly called toad lilies, is a genus of about 16 species of herbaceous perennials from the Eastern Himalayas to the Philippines. They are valued garden plants in large part because of their unique flowers, ability to flower in shade and late summer to fall bloom time.

Genus name comes from the Greek words tri- meaning three and kyrtos meaning humped as the bases of the three outer petals are swollen and sacklike.

Common name presumably relates to the spotting on the flowers.

‘Empress’ is reportedly a hybrid of T. formosana. It typically grows in a clump on stiff straight stems rising to 24-30” tall. Lily-like, white flowers with heavy irregular dark purple spotting bloom in branched terminal clusters (cymes) primarily at the stem ends in late summer to early fall. Flowers (each to 1 1/2” wide) are larger than the flowers on most varieties of tricyrtis. Each flower features six showy tepals (similar appearing sepals and petals). Plants gradually spread by stolons to form colonies. Ovate to lanceolate, stem-clasping, shiny, lily-like green leaves (to 4-6” long). Leaves generally remain attractive throughout the growing season.


No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails are occasional visitors.


Borders, woodland gardens, shade gardens or naturalized areas. Best sited in areas where they can be observed at close range because the beauty and detail of the small flowers tends to get lost if plants can not be examined and appreciated close up. Good cut flower.