This is hands-down, one of the most striking and unique flowers to incorporate into your wildflower beds! A perennial bulb known by several common names; Tolmie's mariposa lily, star tulip, cat’s ear, or pussytoes will dazzle your meadowscapes and perennial borders each spring with its furry, white to light purple petals and exaggerated green sepals.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, herbaceous plant
- Size at maturity: 4"-18" tall, 0-12” wide
- Light requirements: full sun, part sun/part shade
- Moisture requirements: dry soil, prefers well-drained
- Bloom time: March - July
- Growth rate/ease: medium growth rate, easy to grow
- Wildlife support: flowers attract and provide nectar for adult butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; overall plant is likely a host and larval food source for native sphinx moths
- Native habitat/range: found on dry open grassy slopes and woodland edges, from near sea level at the coast to mid elevations of the west-Cascades, across western portions of the Pacific Northwest. Portland Plant List - yes
- Special features & uses: landscape uses include meadowscapes, pollinator gardens, rock gardens and woodland edges
What to Expect + Gardening with Tolmie’s Mariposa: Simply give this stunner full to part sun and well-drained soil and it will beautify your wildflower meadowscapes and woodland borders.
Please note this plant is a bulb. For spring orders, depending on the weather and the date of your order pick-up, bulbs may be just emerging or already dying back for the season. Bulbs can be fragile when they're actively growing in spring. So, either plant with care or keep it in its pot and wait until it dies back entirely before planting. By early summer, the plant will die back completely and the bulb will be easy to transplant. If you go this route, leave the pot in a sheltered place and water sparingly, so that you don't rot the bulb.
For fall orders, you can expect what looks like a pot of dirt. The bulb inside may appear slightly dried and shriveled, which is its normal, dormant look. Fall is generally considered an excellent time to plant bulbs.
Like most bulbs, once planted in the landscape, it needs to stay dry in the summer months and can easily rot if accidentally irrigated. Bulbs are also generally susceptible to predation from several types of small mammals but are so gorgeous that they are well-worth the risk! Plant in multiples to increase your chance of success.
Photo Credit 1 & 2: "Calochortus tolmiei" by John Game is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit 3: "Calochortus tolmiei" by Madeleine Claire is licensed under CC BY 4.0.