25 – 31 May 2020

Alliums and Turk’s Cap Lilies

Turks cap lilies yellow spring lily flowers

This week in our garden, the best plants are Alliums and Turk’s Cap Lilies.  I couldn’t choose only one… Both of these flowers are at their best from the end of May until the beginning of June.  They’ve been loving the warm weather this week, which reached 23°C in our part of Scotland.


I bought Allium ‘Gladiator’ bulbs from The Range last autumn.  This is my first year growing alliums, and I’ve learnt a lot. 

Firstly, I’ve learnt that snails, especially the small snails with yellow swirls on their shells, absolutely love eating alliums.

I have often heard how unsightly allium leaves can be and how it’s a good idea to plant other plants around them to hide the leaves.  Well, we certainly won’t have any problem hiding the leaves this year, as the snails have done a very efficient job of eating every trace of the allium leaves.  And not only the leaves… 

Once all the leaves were gone, the snails attacked the flower stems too.  For some reason, I didn’t think the snails would bother with the stems, but I was wrong!  I only had 5 bulbs to plant in a large pot, along with some Red Hot Poker plants, and so far, the flower stems of 2 of them have collapsed due to snail damage.

Allium 'Gladiator' flowers

Allium ‘Gladiator’ flowers with snail damage on the stem

When the snails started attacking the allium flower stems, I did put some wool pellets on top of the compost, to try to keep the snails away.  But I still noticed a couple of snails crawling over the wool pellets.  The snails had made their homes inside some of the Red Hot Poker leaves too.

How will the bulbs make food for next year’s growth, without any leaves? We’ll have to wait and see.  At least I can see plenty of seed pods forming on the remaining flowers, so growing them from seed will be the next stage in the learning curve of growing alliums in Scotland.

Tall Allium 'Gladiator' flower buds opening

Tall Allium ‘Gladiator’ flower buds opening

Small bumblebee pollinating Allium 'Gladiator' flower ball

Small bumblebee pollinating Allium ‘Gladiator’ flower ball

Secondly, I’ve learnt that alliums are much taller than I expected. They’re planted in a large, 40 cm high pot, which does make them appear taller than they are, but I didn’t expect the flower stems to reach a height of 115cm.

And the bees also love the alliums!






Turk’s Cap Lilies

Our second Plants of The Moment are our Turk’s Cap Lilies (also called martagon lilies) which have been looking great in our garden for the last couple of weeks.

At least, I think they’re Turk’s Cap Lilies…

Yellow Turk's Cap Lily flowers and leaves with orange pollen on stamens

Yellow Turk’s Cap Lily flowers and leaves

The yellow lilies were a happy surprise that appeared in our garden during the first Spring after we moved into our house, three Springs ago. Thanks to the previous homeowners, these pretty yellow flowers grow every year, as if by magic.

I think they’re called Turk’s Cap Lilies because of the way their petals curl back on themselves, forming a pretty shape. But at the same time, my Google search results seem to say that Turk’s Cap Lilies should grow a bit taller than our lilies do.

Our plants reach a height of around 95cm tall, including their small, 4-5cm wide flowers, which have thick, waxy petals. Each stem holds 3 – 6 flowers. They grow from lily bulbs and are hardy perennials.

One strange thing about our Turk’s Cap Lilies is their smell.  It’s not a bad smell, but I don’t find it a sweet perfume either.

Our Turk’s Cap Lilies are planted in partly shaded areas of our garden, in areas that only get direct sun in the afternoon.  One clump of them is against a west-facing wall of the house and the other is against a south-west-facing wall. Both clumps of lilies are shaded by the house until the afternoon.  They do seem to like a bit of shade and the moist soil they’re in.

If anyone can either confirm or deny the presence of Turk’s Cap Lilies in these pictures, that would be lovely!  I would love to know what our lilies are really called if they turn out to not be Turk’s Cap Lilies.

Lily Beetles

Scarlet Lily Beetle eating lily leaves

Scarlet Lily Beetle eating lily leaves

Lilies can be attacked by lily beetles.  This year I’ve seen a couple on our lily’s leaves. I’ll be keeping an eye on our lily plants, and checking for any orange lily beetle eggs that might appear on the underside of the leaves.

Watch out for these bright red beetles and their larvae, that eat the leaves, stems and petals of lilies and fritillaries.  

If you see lily beetles in your garden, you can fill out the lily beetle survey on the RHS website, to help the RHS get a better picture of the spread of lily beetles in the UK.

Do you have Alliums or Turk’s Cap Lilies growing in your garden?

What else is looking great at this time of year where you are? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy your garden!