Eremurus himalaicus
Common Name: foxtail lily 
Type: Bulb
Family: Asphodelaceae
Native Range: Afghanistan, northwestern Himalayas
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant

Culture

Grow in organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. Performs well in sandy loams. Starfish-shaped rootstock consists of a central crown from which fleshy 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 may need to 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 himalaicus, commonly called foxtail lily, is native to the western Himalayas. Each plant features a 2’x 2’ clump of strap-shaped basal leaves (each to 12-18" long). From the center of each clump rises a thick leafless stalk to 4-6' tall bearing, an erect, foxtail-like spike (terminal raceme) of tiny, densely-packed, outward facing, white flowers (each to 1" across). Each spike typically grows from 1/3 to 1/2 of the flowering stem (20-30" long). Flowers appear in mid to late spring, blooming bottom to top on the spikes. Each flower has six showy petal-like tepals. Flowers are fragrant.

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 of the Himalayas.

Problems

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

Garden Uses

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