The martagon family has been seen as fussy and hard to get along with.  While it is true that
marties, (as I will affectionately call them), can pout, they are quite versatile garden plants.  
They are super for the shade garden where they will add some vertical lines to an otherwise
normally mounded growing in part sun.

Having said all of that, marties are a bit harder to get established; probably because when they
fail to show up the spring after fall planting, we, as gardeners, dig them up to see how they are
doing.  That sets them back again and now they won’t show up or send up a weak spindly stem
with one or two misshapen flowers the following spring.  With disgust we say “and I paid $$$
for THAT.  Never again!” Or, we dig them up once again to see what is wrong with it and start
the cycle all over again until the bulb exhausts its energy supply and dies.  

The best way to plant a martie is as early in the fall as possible.  Plant them in a semi shaded
area at a depth of 2 to 3 times their diameter, in other words, a 2 inch around bulb should be
planted with its base 4 to 6 inches beneath the soil line. Cover with soil and water in well to
remove all air pockets which will allow frost and freeze damage to occur, finish filling to
ground level after the soil has settled and water once more, mark the place where you have
planted that martagon bulb.  Mulch with a layer of leaves, pine boughs, or other mulch after
the ground freezes.

During the winter and following spring, the martie will be working to establish its root system
and may or may not make an appearance.  Do not dig up the bulb to see what is wrong!  If the
bulb has been planted in good soil that is well drained you will most likely see some growth by
the second spring, if not the first.  Marties have also been known to send up a stem (even to
form some flowers) and then die back for no apparent reason.  This is ‘normal’ martagon
behavior, so don’t despair.

Having said all this, I have found most of my marties make some sort of appearance the first
spring after planting and by the second spring are showing me what beauty they are capable
of. I mark the location of my bulbs so that I will not accidently dig in the empty spot if they
don’t show up that first year. You may want to provide rabbit protection in the spring as they
seem to be especially appealing to bunnies.  Plant Skkyd ® is a blood based repellant that
works very well

The hardest part is the waiting, Give her time… she’s worth it!!

Susan A. Williams (Nov. 2009)
Claude Shride--Martagon Lily
Mrs. R O Backhouse--Martagon Lily
Nodding buds & whorled
leaves are hallmarks of
the Martagon Lily.
Martagon Lilies for your shade  garden!
Dalhansonii --Martagon Lily
Nepera--Martagon Lily
L. martagon album--species lily
Martagon Lily foliage
Martagons are available in a
rainbow of colors!
Raspberry Rose  -martagon
Iowa Regional Lily Society     (IRLS)
             Growing Lilies in Iowa and neighboring states since 1973
Martagon Lilies         by IRLS Member   Sue Williams