If you want a reliable herbaceous perennial that will grow in almost any situation - other than dense shade - ten look no further than the Toad Lily - Tricyrtis formosana.
It dies down each autumn, but then springs back to life after every winter. There are others in the same group of Tricyrtis, but it is the Tricyrtis formosana that is my favourite - just!
This Toad Lily is sometimes known as Tricyrtis stolonifera which gives a clue to its growth habit.
Tricyrtis formosana is a perennial for mid border pr can be grown as a stand alone plant - or with shrubs. It is an early autumn flowering plant - happily spreading with its underground rhizomes, but not too rapidly. However, do allow it room to spread, for it will spread to a metre or so in a few years.
The pink and white flowers of the Toad Lily - though showy and unusual close up, and a dream for the garden photographer - are not always seen at best from a distance. There are masses of the flowers on erect stems which grow to around 80cm (2.5ft) in height. The foliage is somewhat hairy - so it is often mistaken for Tricyrtis hirta (hirta = hairy), but the latter is much hairier but otherwise quite similar.
Tricyrtis formosana is easily propagated by division, or simply cutting off a few of the underground creeping stems. Spring being the best time to do this. Otherwise, Toad Lily seeds can be collected as soon as ripe, and sown right away - giving the shelter of a coldframe or unheated greenhouse.
Tricyrtis as a group, prefer a moist but well drained soil. Nevertheless they are also happy in drier conditions of the light woodland setting. If in areas of severe winter weather, then give a peat mulch after the foliage dies down in the autumn.
The woodland setting - or under overhanging shrubs - is an ideal situation in late autumn frost areas. This will give the late flowers that little bit of added protection during this period.
Tricyrtis are quite easily raised from seed - best sown as soon as the seed has ripened on the plants. Sow in a coldframe or cold unheated green house. Leave young Toad Lily seedlings to overwinter in the coldframe or unheated greenhouse for the first winter. If planted out as young plants, they will suffer in the first winter. take care to avoid damage from slugs and snails - especially with the young plants in early spring/summer.
Tricyrtis can also be propagated by simple division - best carried out in early spring.
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