There are many types of Tricyrtis. Some have an arching stem, some a trailing stem, and some have an erect upright stem. Their flowers may have flat petals, petals that do not open far and are shaped like a bell, or petals that open beyond horizontal and bend backwards (are reflexed). The flowers may occur only at the tips of the plant or all along the length of the stem. The flower color varies from multi-colored hues of yellow, blue, pink, and white. Creating categories from this wide variation is difficult but the species tend to clump into together with certain groups of these traits.
One such category to consider are the hybrid species with parents in different species and groups. The following is a description of toad lily species in this group.
Tricyrtis ‘Amanogawa’ (Milky Way Toad Lily) From Japan comes this splendid, but difficult to find, hybrid toad lily (Tricyrtis perfoliata HTricyrtis hirta). The rigid arching habit of the stem makes this toad lily perfect to arch over a rock, or through ferns. The stems are clothed, from very late summer through early fall with brown speckled leaves, leading to the creamy yellow, lightly speckled, orchid-like flowers at the end of each stem. “Amanogawa” is Japanese for “Milky Way Galaxy”. (Hardiness Zone 4-8)
Tricyrtis ‘Blue Wonder’ (Blue Wonder Toad Lily) This appears to be a cross of Tricyrtis hirta and Tricyrtis formosana. The 30″ tall upright stalks are topped with terminal panicles of flowers with pale blue petals with dark blue spots starting in September. It does spread, although not a fast as T. formosana. (Hardiness Zone 5-8, guessing)
Tricyrtis ‘Dai Nagon’ (Dai Nagon Toad Lily) This Tricyrtis hirta hybrid makes a congested 8″ tall clump.
Tricyrtis ‘Eco Yellow Spangles’ (Eco Yellow Spangles Toad Lily) This hybrid of Tricyrtis latifolia and Tricyrtis flava was made by Don Jacobs of Eco Gardens in Decatur, Georgia. Tricyrtis ‘Eco Yellow Spangles’ makes a strongly arching plant, clothed with glossy green foliage, adorned with cinnamon spots. The large yellow upfacing flowers also are spotted cinnamon. (Hardiness Zone 5-7, guessing)
Tricyrtis ‘Empress’ (Empress Toad Lily) This toad lily hybrid makes a 30″ tall upright clump, topped from late July-September with terminal spikes of large orchid-like flowers…white background with dark purple speckles. (Hardiness Zone 5b-9, guessing)
Tricyrtis formosana Hhirta (Hybrid Toad Lily) Since these two species readily cross in the garden, many plants sold commercially as both Tricyrtis hirta and Tricyrtis formosana are actually this cross. The result is usually a plant that is much more vigorous than either parent. Offspring can either inherit the running or clumping habit of either parent. The 3″ long leaves clasp the nearly 3′ tall stems. In late summer and early fall, branches of 1″ flowers, white with dark purple freckles, top the plant. (Hardiness Zone 5b-9)
Tricyrtis ‘Kohaku’ (Kohaku Toad Lily) This is a hybrid of two distantly related species, Tricyrtis macranthopsis HTricyrtis hirta. The 2′ long nearly prostrate branches are adorned with deeply veined pointed green leaves. In late summer, each branch is home to the extraordinarily large dark purple and white spotted orchid-like terminal flowers. Although this is a genetically interesting plant, it doesn’t make much of a garden specimen, especially in the southeast. Perhaps it would be better suited to the Pacific Northwest. (Hardiness Zone 4-8)
Tricyrtis ‘Imperial Banner’ PP 18,956 (Imperial Banner Toad Lily) This stunning new toad lily occurred as a mutation on Tricyrtis ‘Empress’, which we believe to be a Tricyrtis hirta Hformosana hybrid. The amazing leaves on Tricyrtis ‘Imperial Banner’ are glossy green with a unique white central variegation pattern. Tricyrtis ‘Imperial Banner’ forms an absolutely amazing and unique 2′ tall x 2′ wide clump, even before it is topped in midsummer with short terminal spikes of light lavender flowers with dark purple spots. Many of the plants in the trade sold as this are actually Tricyrtis ‘White Waves’ which is easier to maintain in tissue culture. Tricyrtis ‘Imperial Banner’ is very prone to reversion to solid green stems, which should be promptly removed. (Hardiness Zone 6-8, at least)
Tricyrtis ‘Lemon Twist’ (Lemon Twist Toad Lily) This Darrell Probst introduction is a cross between two dwarf Japanese yellow-flowered species, Tricyrtis flava and Tricyrtis ohsumiensis. The result is a vigorous hybrid with large, light green, speckled leaves that form a robust 1′ tall by 1′ wide clump. The clumps are topped, starting in early October, with large, light yellow flowers. In form, it is taller than? (Hardiness Zone 5-8, at least)
Tricyrtis ‘Manten-no-hoshi’ (Manten no Hoshi Toad Lily) This Japanese selection, which has strong stems topped with terminal clusters of white flowers heavily marked with rich purple, was developed for the cut flower trade. (Hardiness Zone 5-8, at least)
Tricyrtis ‘Momoyama’ (Momoyama Toad Lily) Flowers on this 3′ tall Japanese Tricyrtis hirta hybrid are white in the center and pale-pink towards the tips, with very few floral spots. (Hardiness Zone 4-8)
Tricyrtis ‘Moonlight Treasure’ PP 16,037, PVR (Moonlight Treasure Toad Lily) Tricyrtis ‘Moonlight Treasure’ is a new hybrid, created using the beautiful dwarf species Tricyrtis ohsumiensis and Tricyrtis nana. The result is a compact hybrid comprised of thick, beautifully blotched leaves forming a compact 10″ tall by 10″ wide clump. Starting in late summer, the clumps are topped with large, buttery-yellow flowers held just above the foliage. (Hardiness Zone 5-7, at least)
Tricyrtis ‘Niitaka’ (Niitaka Toad Lily) This is probably a Tricyrtis formosana x hirta hybrid, bred in Japan for the cut flower trade (Hardiness Zone 6-9, at least)
Tricyrtis ‘Purple Beauty’ (Purple Beauty Toad Lily) This probable Tricyrtis formosana x Tricyrtis hirta hybrid makes a 3′ tall upright grower, topped, starting in September with terminal panicles of flowers with a base color of white that is heavily spotted purple. Tricyrtis ‘Purple Beauty’ is a loose clumper as compared with T. ‘Blue Wonder’ (Hardiness Zone 6-9, guessing)
Tricyrtis ‘Shikin’ (Shikin Toad Lily) This is another Tricyrtis hirta x T. formosana hybrid from Japan. (Hardiness Zone 6-9, at least)
Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ (Sinonome Toad Lily) Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ was rated one of the top toad lilies in the extensive perennial trials at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It performs equally as well for us in the land of heat and humidity as it does in the cold windy city. The 3′ tall upright stems of this Tricyrtis hirta HTricyrtis formosana hybrid are clothed with leaves from bottom to top. In late summer, the top of the stems are home to nice clusters of 1″ purple and white speckled flowers. (Hardiness Zone 5-9)
Tricyrtis ‘Taipei Silk’ PP 18,727 (Taipei Silk Toad Lily) This delightful tricyrtis hybrid comes from the breeding program of Darrell Probst. The 30″ tall stalks of this Tricyrtis lasiocarpa hybrid are clothed with glossy green leaves, then topped, starting in September, with five-way branched terminal sprays of 1.5″ wide flowers. Each flower is composed of three rich lavender petals contrasted with three smaller white petals with lavender specks. (Hardiness Zone 6-8, at least)
Tricyrtis ‘Tojen’ (Tojen Toad Lily) (aka: Tricyrtis ‘Togen’) This is a robust Japanese hybrid with gigantic foliage that is nearly three times as large as most of the other tricyrtis species and remains looking good all summer. Tricyrtis ‘Tojen’ forms a massive 2′ tall by 3′ wide clump, topped, starting in midsummer, with terminal clusters of unspotted orchid lavender and white flowers with yellow throats. (Hardiness Zone 5-8)
Tricyrtis ‘White Waves’ PP 20,007 (White Waves Toad Lily) This new toad lily is one that we found hiding amongst our stock of Tricyrtis ‘Imperial Banner’. While similar to its parent, Tricyrtis ‘White Waves’ has none of the green streaking in the middle of the creamy central part of the leaf. This results in a more dramatic leaf variegation but slightly less vigor. For us, the 15″ tall clumps are topped in early October with attractive purple-spotted flowers. (Hardiness Zone 6-8, at least)
These Tricyrtis all make wonderful garden plants for partially shaded, temperate locations. Enjoy!