Toad Lily

Toad Lily
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
toad lily
Credit: Greg Ryan
toad lily
Toad Lily

Toad lilies bring an elegant flair to any fall garden. While almost all other shade plants have finished blooming and are about to wind down for the winter, toad lilies are just beginning to show off. Their speckled flowers are beautiful, and the plants themselves have graceful arching habits along with often variegated or spotted foliage to accompany the dainty blooms.

genus name
  • Tricyrtis
  • Part Sun
  • Shade
plant type
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 1 to 2 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9

Colorful Combinations

Toad lily plants are a welcome sight, especially in late summer. The blooms are such unique-looking flowers that you simply have to stop and check them out. The flowers often come in whites, yellows, purples, or soft pinks, but are typically spotted in varying degrees of these colors, creating unique effects on the petals. The blooms appear much later than many other shade plants, starting in late summer and going into the fall.

The foliage of these plants can also be pretty. Most commonly, the leaves are a rich green hue, but this Asian native can also be found in variegated forms, too. Many of the variegated varieties feature gold foliage with speckles or edges of another color. Look for the gold varieties to brighten up shady garden corners, even when not in bloom.

Toad Lily Care Must-Knows

Toad lily plants require little maintenance, but the most important factor to consider is water. These plants are native to the edges of woodlands and around creeks, performing best in rich, moist, well-drained soils. If your soil is too dry and heavy, consider adding compost to your garden beds before planting. This will add nutrients as well as increase the water-holding capacity, creating a better home for toad lilies. Some species of toad lily can handle short droughts, but the foliage and overall health of the plants may begin to decline the longer the drought lasts. It's best to add supplemental water during dry spells.

You might be able to guess how much sun they prefer based on their native environment. These plants love morning sun and afternoon shade, but dappled shade throughout the day works just as well. A few varieties may be able to take full sun, but only if well-watered. Even then, foliage may scorch. In too-dense shade, variegated and gold varieties may fade to more of a green color, and blooms may be less numerous.

New Innovations

Toad lilies are still a fairly recent introduction to the U.S. garden world. These plants all come from East Asia, and they weren't used in ornamental gardens until the mid-'90s when they became available at specialty nurseries. Since then, new hybrids and cultivars have been created that feature larger blooms, unique patterns, and interesting foliage colors.

More Varieties of Toad Lily

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Common toad lily

Common toad lily

Tricyrtis hirta is soft and fuzzy with hairs. Its arching stems bear clusters of upright flowers. The orchid-like blooms are white with dark purple spots. It grows to 3 feet tall. Zones 4-9

Tojen toad lily
Credit: Andrew Drake

'Tojen' toad lily

Tricyrtis 'Tojen' bears unspotted lavender flowers in early fall on tall, 3-foot stems. It's more vigorous than many other toad lilies. Zones 4-8

White Towers toad lily
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

'White Towers' toad lily

Tricyrtis 'White Towers' bears pure-white flowers in late summer and fall on 2-foot-tall stems. Zones 4-8

Toad Lily Companion Plants

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