Plant of the Month for March, 2014

Eremurus stenopyllus header
Eremurus stenophyllus

 (er-EE-mur-us sten-oh-FIL-us)

General Information:

A real special plant with mixed up names. Many people call this plant Eremurus bungei, but the correct name is E. stenophyllus.

Eremurus stenophyllus Robert Pavlis

Eremurus stenophyllus; photo by Robert Pavlis

I first purchased this plant as a tuber. Knowing that the tuber rots easily, I planted it on a bed of sand in fall and never saw it again. I then decided to try growing it from seed which worked much better. The clump in the picture is about 4 years old, and it’s getting bigger every year. A few self-seeded plants can be seen at its base.

Also known as Foxtail Lily and Desert Candle, it blooms for several weeks as successive buds open from the bottom to the top. At a height of 120 cm, it makes quite a statement in the garden.

Eremurus stenophyllus Robert Pavlis

Eremurus stenophyllus; photo by Robert Pavlis

It is native to Central Asia where it grows in dry mountainous areas. It likes to have good drainage and lots of sun. The tuber look like a star fish and is quite fragile. After flowering the plant look a bit ragged and it is therefore best to place this plant behind other plants that will cover the old foliage in late summer. Don’t divide or move the plant unless it is absolutely necessary. When planting a tuber, set the crown of the tuber 10 cm below the soil level.

The pictured plants are a bright yellow fading to a less bright yellow. Some references suggest that they fade to an orange colour and it is possible that this only happens in some hybrids. I believe the pure species stays yellow.

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 120 cm (4ft)

Bloom Time: mid-summer

Natural Range: Central Asia, Iran, Persia

Habitat: dry rocky mountains

Synonyms:  Ammolirion stenophyllum, Eremurus bungei, E. stenophyllus var. bungei, E. stenophyllus subsp. stenophyllus, Henningia stenophylla


Light: full sun

Soil: well drained

Water: regular moisture in spring, dry after flowering, especially in winter

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5– 9

Propagation: seed, division

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): usually

Sow immediately. The viability of these seeds is short or the species propagates best with fresh seed. Stored seed might be coaxed into germination with temperature cycling and patience.

Give sown seeds several weeks @ 20°C to imbibe water (perhaps even germinate!), then expose to fluctuating outdoor winter temperatures including freezing for 3 months. Gradually increase light and temperature in spring. See

grow seedling at cool temperature
Robert Pavlis