Tricyrtis formosana ©

Tricyrtis formosana: The Enchanting Toad Lily that Flourishes in Shade

Tricyrtis formosana, commonly known as the Toad Lily, is a rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family. Native to Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan (also known as Nansei-shotō 南西諸島 or Ryūkyū-shotō 琉球諸島), this captivating plant brings a touch of exotic beauty to shaded gardens. With its lance-shaped, spotted foliage and unique star-shaped flowers, Tricyrtis formosana is a delightful addition to any landscape.


Tricyrtis formosana features erect stems that can reach a height of 80cm or 3ft. The lance-shaped foliage is adorned with distinctive spots, adding visual interest even when the plant is not in bloom. The real showstopper, however, is the enchanting flowers. They appear in lax clusters at the top of the stalks and boast a white coloration adorned with mesmerizing purple spots.

Resembling orchids, the star-shaped flowers have six petals and a bright yellow throat, creating a striking contrast. Deadheading the spent flowers will encourage the plant to produce more blooms throughout the flowering season.

Tricyrtis formosana
Beautiful flower of Tricyrtis formosana

How to grow Tricyrtis formosana:

To successfully grow Tricyrtis formosana, consider the following guidelines:

Light and Soil Requirements: Plant Tricyrtis formosana in moist, humus-rich soil that is well-drained. It thrives in partial to full shade, making it an ideal choice for areas with limited sunlight. In regions with colder climates, providing a sheltered location can protect the plant from harsh winter conditions. While Tricyrtis formosana is relatively hardy, additional winter protection, such as mulching, may be necessary in more severe climates.

Propagation and Maintenance: Tricyrtis formosana can be propagated from seeds or through division in early spring. Although it spreads slowly through rhizomes, it is not considered an invasive plant. This makes it easier to control its growth and maintain the desired appearance in the garden. The plant is generally disease-free but keep an eye out for common garden pests such as slugs and snails, as they may occasionally feed on the foliage. Regular monitoring and suitable pest control measures will help ensure the plant’s health and vitality.

Watering and Fertilizing: Water Tricyrtis formosana regularly, especially during its first year of growth, to establish a strong root system. The plant prefers consistently moist soil but avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Light fertilization in the spring, using a balanced slow-release fertilizer, will provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and abundant blooms.

Tricyrtis formosana
Lance-shaped leaves of Tricyrtis formosana

Seasonal Care: Deadheading spent flowers not only promotes a tidier appearance but also encourages the plant to produce more blossoms. Cut back the plant in the fall to stimulate new growth in the following spring. Tricyrtis formosana is relatively low-maintenance and requires minimal pruning or special care.

By following these cultivation practices, you can enjoy the enchanting beauty of Tricyrtis formosana in your shaded garden. Its unique spotted foliage and captivating star-shaped flowers will undoubtedly add a touch of elegance and intrigue to your outdoor space.

Tricyrtis formosana
Tricyrtis formosana at Kew Garden.
Tricyrtis formosana
White with purple dots is the flower of Tricyrtis formosana

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