Caring For Trout Lily [Erythronium]

Erythronium [Er-ih-THROH-nee-um] is a genus of spring-flowering plants belonging to the Liliaceae family, closely linked to tulips. 

There are around 20 to 30 different species of this plant type, which are native to meadows and forests in the Northern Hemisphere’s temperate regions, particularly North America.

blooms of the Erythronium Trout LilyPin

The common names for Erythronium plants include:

  • Trout Lily
  • Fawn-Lily
  • Adder’s Tongue
  • Dogs Tooth Lily
  • Chamise Lily

Erythronium Plants Care

Size & Growth

Erythronium, like most plants in the lily family, has broadly elliptic or ovate green leaves. 

These North American native plants often have leafless stems, which bear one or more star-shaped flowers.

Most of the species in this genus, like Dog Tooth Violets, grow better when left in the wild and don’t like being transplanted. 

The foliage of these plants disappears around late spring when the plants enter their dormancy.

Flowering and Fragrance

These plants are bulbous spring flower producing perennials. 

They grow small lily-shaped flowers in varying colors. 

The bloom time of these plants is typically in early spring.

The Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ and Erythronium Americanum have yellow flowers. 

It has stamens with deep yellow anthers hang facing downward in the center.

The Erythronium Dens-Canis and Erythronium Revolutum have pink flowers, and Erythronium Californicum and Erythronium Albidum have white flowers.

Light & Temperature

The Trout Lily grows best in partial sun. 

These plants prefer to be in damp, cool climates to properly grow. 

The flowers usually open up the most in warmer climates. 

It is ideal to place these plants under partial shade, particularly provided by shrubs or trees.

The USDA hardiness zones of this plant are 3 – 9.

Watering and Feeding

These plants require regular water throughout their growing period. 

It is ideal to provide them with around 1” inch of moisture weekly. 

Deep watering every week is better as compared to light water every two days.

Soil & Transplanting

Erythronium prefers well-draining, moist, and humus-rich soil. 

The plants grow well in loam, sand, clay, and chalk soils. 

It is best to maintain the moisture level of this plant even when they are dormant.

Grooming and Maintenance

Once these plants have completed their blooming period, avoid cutting off the foliage. 

It gathers sunlight and creates food using the photosynthesis process, which helps in strengthening the bulbs for new growth.

Keep E. Californicum under a part shade, and cut the spent flowers off after the bloom season. 

These plants start disappearing from view during early summer as they enter dormancy, giving the neighboring plants more space to fully branch out. 

They start reappearing in the spring season.

Keep the soil moist, especially once the plant has established. 

Once the plants enter dormancy, cover it with topsoil. 

Divide these plants after four years to maintain their freshness.

How to Propagate Trout Lily

The propagation of these plants is done using seeds and corms. 

They create seeds in high amounts and must be gathered once the capsules on the stiff flowers split open. 

Dry off the seeds and plant them in the fall season in multipurpose compost. 

Ensure the pot or container is filled deeply. 

Cover the seeds with grit.

When growing with seeds, the plants usually don’t flower for four to five years. 

Better and quicker results are achieved using corms.

The propagation is also done using offsets. 

  • It is ideal to cut the offsets from older plants during the fall season. 
  • Plant these offsets around 4” to 5” inches apart and 2” to 3” inches deep. 
  • These plants produce stolons, and eventually spread to create big colonies if growing in ideal conditions and left undisturbed.
  • The vigorous species of Erythronium genus vegetatively multiply. 
  • It is best to cut off the spent flowers immediately to reduce the multiplication rate.
  • Repotting must be done during the early fall season of the second year. 
  • Provide the plants with a fertilizer monthly during their growing period to achieve optimal growth.

Trout Lily Pest or Diseases

Erythronium plants are mostly trouble-free and rarely experience severe disease or pest problems. 

The biggest concern for these plants is a soil mixture with a poor drainage system as this often results in root rotting and damaged bulbs.

Erythronium Uses

These plants look excellent when used as ground cover, and in rock gardens, woodland gardens, wildflower meadow, beds and borders, and cottage gardens.

These plants also grow well along streams and ponds. 

These plants also attract hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators.

The Trout Lily is known to work well with different bulbs and plants, naturally going with Erythronium Tuolumnense, White Beauty, Yellow Trout Lily, and Dog’s Tooth Violet, Hepatica, Hosta, Trilliums, Pulmonaria, and more.

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