Foxtail Lily - Facts and Planting Tips

The Foxtail Lily

The Foxtail Lily is amongst the most notable and incredible flowers of the Lily family. The "spikes" of each individual growth, which resemble foxtails, can be anywhere from three to up to ten feet in height. Each spike can contain hundreds of bright flowers.

The Foxtail Lily comes in an assortment of colors, such as: soft to deep pink, salmon to orange, lemon yellow to deep yellow and white to cream colored. There are early flowering species, such as Elwesianus, Himalaicus, and Robustus, which bloom in June. Other species, Olgae, Bungei, and hybrid varieties typically bloom after the early flowering varieties. Note: The non-hybrid, heirloom varieties are harder to find for purchase in some regions.

At one time these flowers weren't as well known, and still aren't to an extent, but they're becoming more popular as additions to flower beds and flower gardens. They aren't that complicated to grow and definitely stand out once they've established themselves and mature. A good thing about Foxtail Lilies is that they are perennials. So you'll be able to enjoy them year after year in Zones 5 through 8. Some varieties may also be able to grow in USDA Zone 9.

Foxtail Lily Varieties and Their Colors
By Magnus Manske [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Robustus has a rose pink color that blooms in early June. It can reach heights of 8 to 10 feet.

Elwesianus has a soft pink color and is similar to Robustus, though more "robust". The flowering spikes can reach heights of 10 to 12 feet and bloom in June.

Himalaicus has pure white flowers, bloom in June, and can reach heights of 6 to 8 feet.

Bungei have a deep yellow tone, flowers in July, and reaches heights of 4 feet.

Olgae are white, ribbed with red, and have a pink shading on the flower petals. They flower in July and can get up to 6 feet in height.


Hybrids of the Foxtail Lily include Him-rob, Bungei superbus, Bungei pallidus, Sir Michael, Shelford, Tub-rob and others. These varieties are in varied shades of yellow, orange, and pink.

Quick tips on planting and growing these flowers

Plant the flowers in an area where they can get full sun. This is to allow them to grow to their maximum height and bloom. Also, plant them in an area where they will not be damaged by, and protected from, strong winds.

When planting, be careful to not accidentally break off any parts of the plant. The tubers can sometimes be brittle and may require careful handling and planting.

Foxtail lilies require a well-draining, sandy soil instead of a clay-like soil. Plant them 4 inches deep in cooler growing zones and 2 or 3 inches in warmer zones. Each tuber should be planted about 3 feet apart from each other and other plants to give them room to thrive and spread.

In colder zones, such as zone 5, you should cover your foxtail lilies with organic materials such as straw, mulch, or compost. You can also use pine tree branches as covering over the top of the organic material for extra protection from winter weather and snow.

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