Turks cap lily bulbs

Turk’s Cap Lily Information: How To Grow A Turk’s Cap Lily

Growing turk’s cap lilies (Lilium superbum) is an elegant way to add towering color to the sunny to part shade flowerbed in summer. Turk’s cap lily information tells us that these flowers nearly became extinct a few decades ago, because of their popularity as an edible. It seems the bulb from which the turk’s cap flowers grow is a tasty addition to stews and meat dishes.

Fortunately for the flower gardener, the also edible tiger lily distracted these amateur chefs from using all the bulbs of turk’s cap flowers, and the plant was able to re-establish readily. Growing turk’s cap lilies is fairly simple and the tough specimen again blooms in abundance.

Whorls of foliage sprout from the tall stems, along with orange flowers mottled with purple and numerous black seeds. Turk’s cap lily information says flower colors range from burgundy to white, with the orange freckled ones being the most common. The seeds can eventually grow into more turk’s cap lilies, but this is not the quickest way to get summer blooms.

How to Grow a Turk’s Cap Lily

Growing turk’s cap lilies need a rich soil that is slightly acidic for the best performance. In any case, soil for the bulbs must be well-draining. Before planting, amend soil for proper nutrient holding capacity and good drainage. Getting the soil right before planting results in easier turk’s cap lily care.

Then, plant bulbs in the fall. Turk’s cap flowers may bloom as high as 9 feet, so add them to the middle or the back of the flowerbed or center them in an island garden. Ad short annuals at their base to help keep roots cool.

Turk’s cap lilies, sometimes called Martagon lilies, are adaptable to dappled shade when growing in the landscape. More than other types of lilies, turk’s cap flowers will bloom in areas other than full sun. When planted in full shade, however, you’ll find the entire plant leaning toward the light and in this situation turk’s cap flowers may require staking. Avoid full shade areas for this specimen, as this will also reduce the amount of blooms on the turk’s cap flowers.

Other Turk’s Cap Lily Care

Use turk’s caps often as a cut flower. They’re long-lasting in the vase. Remove only one third of the stem when using them as cut flowers, as the bulbs need the nutrients to store for next year’s show.

Now that you’ve learned how to grow a turk’s cap lily and how easy it is to care for them, get some started in the garden this fall.

Plant Database

Brundage, Stephanie

Lilium superbum

Lilium superbum L.

Synonym(s): Lilium canadense ssp. superbum, Lilium canadense ssp. superbum, Lilium gazarubrum, Lilium mary-henryae

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The tall, flowering stem bears several somewhat drooping, orange flowers, spotted reddish-brown, with strongly recurved petals and petal-like sepals; a green streak at the base of each flower segment forms a green star.

The largest and most spectacular of the native Lilies; up to 40 flowers have been recorded on a single plant. The recurved sepals and petals, which presumably resemble a type of cap worn by early Turks, and the showy extruded stamens, are distinctive features. Indians used the bulbs for soup. A somewhat smaller southern species, Carolina Lily (L. michauxii), also has its floral parts bent strongly backwards but lacks the green central star. Its whorled leaves are thick, whitish, and broadest toward the tip.

From the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , MN , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: Southern New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York; south to Georgia and Alabama.
Native Habitat: Wet meadows, swamps, and woods.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pHDrought Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Loam, Sand. Good drainage essential.
Conditions Comments: Like moist but well drained soils

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status


This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241).Click herefor map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Delaware Nature Society – Hockessin, DE
Native Seed Network – Corvallis, OR
Mt. Cuba Center – Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 – Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 1294 – The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Lilium superbum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lilium superbum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lilium superbum


Record Modified: 2019-03-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc.

L. superbum and L. michiganense are very similar perennial forbs. These tall lilies are identified by the backward curving tepals. This completely reveals the stamens and the pollen.

The stems are smooth, round and green, unbranched below the inflorescence. Height can reach 5 to 7 feet and often taller.

Leaves form evenly distributed whorls on the stem and are alternate on the upper side branches. Leaves are lanceolate in shape, with smooth edges and parallel veins. They can be 4 to 18x longer than wide, are held horizontally, with the upper whorls upward ascending, and then drooping at the pointed tips. Surfaces are without hair. The leaf whorls number 6 to 24 with 3 to 20 leaves per whorl, 3 to 9 being typical. Old mature plants will have the most leaves per whorl as will plants with good moist and sunny locations.

The inflorescence consists of long stalked flowers, appearing as singles on in an umbel of 2 or 3, branching from the top of the stem and the upper leaf axils – 1 to 22 flowers with buds more triangular in cross-section; occasionally a plant can produce many more flowers.

The flowers are pendant and not fragrant. The 3 sepals and 3 petals look the same (commonly called ‘tepals’) and as the flower opens they flare outward and then reflex with the tips frequently touching; these are yellow-green near the base and then shade to reddish orange. The 3 outer tepals have 2 faint ridge lines on the backside. The tepals reflex so much that the nectaries are exposed giving the resemblance of a yellow-green star in the base. The tepals have darker colored maroon speckles. There are 6 stamens, strongly exserted beyond the tepals with anthers up to 1/2 inch long. The filaments remain parallel to the style for much of their length before spreading widely with anthers that are a darker magenta to purple. The single style, is pale green with spotted color near the tip.

Seed: Curiously, when the seed head forms, it will turn upward as it matures. Inside are hundreds of wafer thin disc shaped seeds. These are hard to start as they must have a warm moist period followed by a cold moist period before planting. Sown outside they will germinate in the next year. Pollination is primarily by swallowtail butterflies.

Habitat: These plants are becoming uncommon in the wild due to cultivation and roadside mowing. Like most lilies the plants grow from a bulb with offsetting rhizomes. The bulb is whitish and the rhizomes branch. Sites that are sunny and moist such as moist meadows and thickets, rich wood openings and the edges of marshes are preferred.

Names: The genus Lilium is derived from the Greek word ‘lirion’ for lily. The species name superbum, means ‘superb’. The accepted author of the plant classification for L. superbum – ‘L.’, refers to Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist and the developer of the binomial nomenclature of modern taxonomy.

Comparisons: There are several other lilies that have reflexed petals and sepals of this color range. The ones most often confused are first -the Tiger Lily, Lilium lancifolium. There the most easily distinguishing characteristics are lanceolate shaped leaves that are alternate, not in a whorl and the presence of dark bulbils in the leaf axils on the stem. The closest confusing relative is the Michigan, L. michiganense. It is usually shorter, has fewer flowers in the inflorescence, up to 11, with buds that are more round in cross-section. It has fewer leaf whorls (4 to 12) with 3 to 13 leaves per whorl. In the flower, the tepals reflex less leaving the nectaries at the base of the tepals hidden. It has a more yellowish bulb with rhizomes that do not branch but grows in similar habitat.


Turk’s Cap Lily

The Turk’s cap lily flowers are unique and gorgeous. These flowers grow to a nice size, and each one has six luscious petals. The petals have a sleek curve and appear to reach upwards as though seeking the warmth of the sun. The leaves near the base of the flower are a glorious combination of green, yellow and orange. As the petals of the Turk cap lily reach the center, they become bright orange flowers. The orange color becomes a bit darker as it proceeds to the tips of the flowers petals.

There are several excellent purple dots with a brownish hue near the throat of the orange flowers that accent with beautiful antlers. The antlers vary from a brownish red to black and add a sense of stately elegance to the lovely blooms. The stigma surrounded by the antlers has a slight upward curl and is a whitish orange color turning to brown as it nears the tip. When the Turk cap lily flowers are in bloom, they become the delight and pride of any garden. The orange flowers contain little seedpods that are very close together. While the wind blows, the seedpods wings allow them to soar like a butterfly.

Turk’s Cap Lilly plants are started by planting bulbs instead of seeds.

These bulbs provide the growing power for the entire plant to sprout from the ground and have beautiful blooms during the late season. Each bulb should be planted 5 to 6 inches beneath the surface of your growing medium. After directly sowing the bulbs, water them in generously to help them root and grow. They prefer partial sun exposure and well-drained soil. A garden trowel makes it easy to plant these bulbs, and the flowers are well worth it. Turk Cap Lily bulbs can be planted in zones 5 to 8 in the USA.

Turk’s Cap Lily For Sale Affordable Grower Direct Prices Tennessee Wholesale Nursery

Turk’s Cap Lily– Lilium Superbum is native to eastern and central regions of North America. The ornate flowers of this lily are said resemble a type of cap worn by early Turks, hence the common name.

Buy Fast Growing Turk’s Cap Lily

Keep the height in mind when placing Turk’s Cap Lillies, so they don’t block the view of other plants in your garden. You will want to plant these bulbs in the fall. To keep this plant healthy do not let the dirt dry out under it. This is the tallest growing Native American lily. It is preferred for rain gardens, borders, cottage gardens, or pond peripheries. The suggested climate zones for the Turk Cap Lily would be zones five to eight.

The bulbs are stoloniferous, which means that in the wild they will spread and create a tight-knit colony. They look lovely when planted in groups together. They thrive in wet wooded areas and wet meadows. The keywords in helping this plant succeed are shade and water. Keep in mind; these colorful flowers do need fertile soil that is somewhat acidic so that they may thrive. Grow them in an area of the garden that gets partial shade and watch them bloom for you in the summer.

Affordable Turk’s Cap Lily For Every Landscape

The flowers are orange with spots of maroon and bloom at the peak of summer in July. This flower attracts hummingbirds in the summer months.

Another positive thing about this healthy plant is how resistant it is to diseases. It is extremely rare for this plant to be bothered by viruses and illnesses.

Climate Zone: 5 to 8
Mature Height: 7 to 9 ft
Bulb Spacing: 8 to 12″ apart
Sunlight: Half Sun/Half Shade or Full Shade
Soil Conditions: Rich Soil slightly acidic
Botanical Name: Lilium Superbum

Turks Cap Lily Plant

The Turks Cap Lily Plant is a beautiful flower that has blooms of orange, yellow, and hints of red. The blooms on the plant appear to be growing upside down and make the plant appear. As though it has a hat on instead of a flower at the end of the stem. You’ll find that the plant is easy to grow and thrives in areas with partial sunlight. Portions of the plant can be eaten and often offer medicinal benefits. The bulb of the Turks Cap Lily Plant can be used in various soups and stews as well.

Once the plant reaches maturity, the flowers bloom from the stems, while the seeds are often carried away by birds and animals so that the plant can reproduce in other areas, aside from the orange and yellow color of the plant. There are also hints of purple as well as swirls of black on mature petals. The plant thrives in acidic soil. It also grows best in areas that don’t see large amounts of rain or regions where the soil doesn’t stay too moist as the plant filters its nutrients through the soil instead of relying on as much water to grow

Turk’s Cap Mallow

Turk’s cap mallow is a Florida-Friendly shrub related to hibiscus.

Well, actually “Turk’s cap mallow” is the common name used for two different hibiscus relatives.

Both Malvaviscus penduliflorus and Malvaviscus arboreus sport lovely flowers, usually red, that perpetually appear as if they’re just about open fully, but never do.

The confusion between M. penduliflorus and M. arboreus indicates the trouble with common names: you’re talking about one plant while your conversation companion may be thinking of a plant of another species or even genus. To add to the confusion, these shrubs go by additional common names such as sleepy mallow, sleeping hibiscus, wax mallow, or cardinal’s hat.


Like hibiscus, these shrubs are members of the Malvaceae (mallow) family, which also includes okra and cotton. Either shrub is a great choice for Florida gardeners; they start blooming at the beginning of the summer and will keep going until the first frost. A staple of “old Florida” landscapes, they will add a cheerful pop of color at a time when many summer-flowering plants have fizzled out and cooler season plants haven’t yet peaked. In both M. arboreus and M. penduliflorus, the most commonly found flower color is red, although pink and white cultivars exist for both species.

Both M. penduliflorus and M. arboreus can be grown throughout Florida, although neither is native to the state. Most commonly, when people are talking about Turk’s cap mallow, they mean M. penduliflorus. Thought to originate from Central or Southern Mexico, this plant is distinguishable by its downward-pointing, pendant flowers that are about 2.5 inches long. Described by many as looking as if they are just about to open, the folded flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds.

When discussing M. arboreus, the name “wax mallow” is often used. Another hummingbird favorite, M. arboreus is native to Texas, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, as well as parts of the West Indies. One easy-to-spot characteristic that sets apart M. arboreus is that flowers of this plant are upright to lax. Additionally, the flowers on M. arboreus measures 1.25 inches long, about half the length of those of M. penduliflorus.

The upright blossoms of Malvaviscus arboreus.
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr, 2008.

Planting and Care

These shrubs can reach up to ten feet tall and spread ten feet wide, so be sure when selecting a site that you give them the space to grow. Hardy in zones 9-11, these shrubs can be also grown in zone 8; they will typically freeze to the ground, but return in spring.

These easy-care shrubs requires little maintenance and are drought tolerant once established. A spring-time pruning that removes half of the previous year’s growth can help keep your plants healthy and looking great. In tropical areas, these plants do best in light shade, while in more northern areas, a site in full sun with afternoon shade is best.

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