Gilt Edge

'Gilt Edge'
Taiwanese Toad Lily

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope."

-Lady Bird Johnson,
b. 1912

Tricyrtis formosana 'Gilt Edge' toad lily was developed in Japan & introduced to American gardeners by Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries. It is named named for the yellow edging of the deep green leaves of this variegated toad lily. It is extremely similar to the first variegated cultivar of the Formosan Toadlily, 'Samurai' (which see for a discussion of the origin of the common name "toad lily").

Two dried out pots of 'Gilt Edge' were bought in a winter 2004 at a blow-out sale at a small local nursery. They looked dead but this is an extremely hardy plant & I had no doubt it would return to life the following year.

The nursery really had let it dry out too much so it struggled back to life through the next year. It was not babied or it would've leafed out more quickly, but in a shady spot that was periodically a little bit dry it even so began to establish itself & bloomed in September (2005). In another year it was healthy & vigorous.

Once established it thereafter flowered late summer & early autumn. It holds its attractive gold-edged leaves for some while into autumn after flowering is through. The flowers are dusted all over with pink-lavender speckles & highlights against a white background.

With an appearance halfway between a dollhouse-tigerlily & an orchid, it's quite showy, even though blooms are no bigger than a half-dollar (shown in the photo larger than life size) so best placed at a front border to be viewed close up. The flowers also work well for simple, elegant bouquets.

'Gilt Edge' toad lily will eventually reaches about a foot tall with flower stems reaching to two feet tall. This is smaller than most toad lilies, & half the height of the species.

It slowly spreads into a foot-wide clump, with stolons sprouting small plants at further distances from the parent clump so that eventually it can be a three-foot-wide loose groundcover. It also self-seeds.

Although it spreads easily, it is not an aggressive plant & plays well with other shade perennials. If it spreads beyond the space allotted to it, extra plants can be removed from along the stolons & potted to give to friends.

Suited to zones six through nine, it wants moist well-draining soil in semi-shade. Terra Nova recommended persistent moisture, but from our toad lilies we've discovered that once established they are surprisingly drought-hardy, although they will spread more quickly, flower better, & last longer into autumn with persistent moisture.

Lovely though it is, it really does seem largely to duplicate 'Samurai,' & having both in the garden can be redundant, though 'Gilt Edge' seems generally to begin blooming slightly sooner.


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