'Stargazer' lily (Lilium orientalis 'Stargazer') is a large, showy, very fragrant blossom. The tips of the flowers are "reflexed"—meaning that they curve back toward the stem—and they sport long, showy stamens. It was developed in the late 1970s as a cross between Lilium auratum and L. speciosum to intentionally create a flower with upward-facing rather than drooping flowers. They are among the most fragrant flowers, with a spicy aroma that some people find a little overwhelming. With a diameter of 6 inches or more, they are exceedingly showy blossoms—there is nothing subtle about 'Stargazer'.
Fall is the typical time to put 'Stargazer' bulbs into the ground, but if you miss this planting time, you can also do it in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Like all lilies, 'Stargazer' is toxic to cats.
|Common Name||Stargazer lily, stargazer|
|Botanical Name||Lilium orientalis 'Stargazer'|
|Plant Type||Perennial bulb|
|Mature Size||4 ft. tall, 1 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Loamy, moist, well-draining|
|Soil pH||Neutral, acidic|
|Flower Color||Pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||4–9 (USDA)|
|Native range||Hybrid plant, no native range|
|Toxicity||Toxic to cats|
Planting 'Stargazer' Lily Bulbs
Purchase bulbs as close to the time you are going to plant them. You want fresh bulbs, not older ones. If you live in a very cold harsh climate, plant lily bulbs in the spring (after the last frost) when they will appreciate the warmer ground. But you can plant lily bulbs in containers at any time, even in the summer.
When planning where you are going to plant lily bulbs, remember to keep them in the sun and don't plant them near taller plants that will overshadow them and keep sunlight from reaching them. Lilies hate being crowded by other plants, so avoid planting them among ground coverings or other types of plants that spread aggressively. Best companion plants for lilies include shorter annuals (such as pansies and zinnias) or other bulbs (like hyacinths and daffodils).
Plant 'Stargazer' lily bulbs in the fall or early spring, 6 to 8 inches deep in the ground. Planting in groups of three or five bulbs gives a pleasing look to the garden. These tall, slender plants should be spaced 8 to 12 inches apart. They will do well in most soils other than constantly wet, clay soil that may cause the bulbs to rot.
Mulch over the base of the plants to keep the soil moist and cool. Unlike many tall plants, 'Stargazers' have sturdy stems that usually don't require staking.
'Stargazer' Lily Care
Tall enough for planting in the middle or back row of a flower bed, 'Stargazer' lilies can serve as focal points, as they are sure to catch the viewer's eye with large flowers bearing vibrant colors. Tall as they are, they generally do not require staking and are among the easiest lilies to grow. Stargazers make excellent cut flowers, and they are attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.
Stargazers do best in full sun (eight hours per day) but will tolerate part shade. Shady locations will cause the stems to get leggy and overly long and may require staking, which is unnecessary when planted in full sun.
Oriental lilies such as 'Stargazer' do well in any medium soil with average moisture. They prefer slightly acidic soils (pH 6.3 to 6.8) but grow fine in neutral soils. Feeding with an acid fertilizer helps them thrive in alkaline soils.
'Stargazer' lilies need to be kept uniformly moist, but the bulbs may rot and die if allowed to soak in boggy conditions or standing water. They should be watered whenever the soil becomes dry to the touch. These plants require about 1 inch of water per week through rainfall or irrigation. Watering is best done by soaking the soil to a depth of 6 inches; do not water overhead, which can damage the blossoms. Mulching will help the soil remain moist.
Temperature and Humidity
Lilies do well across all climate conditions found in their hardiness zone range, provided soil conditions are suitable, but they truly thrive in hot conditions. Maximum bloom is achieved in midsummer conditions where temperatures consistently reach 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
'Stargazer' prefers to have its leaves and stems in full sun, but the bulbs like to be kept cool. Planting them among other plants that shade the ground or covering the ground with thick mulch will help keep the bulbs cool.
Like many plants with large, dramatic flowers, 'Stargazer' is a heavy feeder. For best performance, apply a generous amount of 10-10-10 fertilizer in the early spring after the shoots have emerged, then supplement with smaller feedings every few weeks through the growing season. Water deeply after each feeding. Where soil conditions are not ideal, feeding with an acid fertilizer, such as a formulation designed for azaleas, will help 'Stargazer' thrive.
'Stargazer' varieties may carry proprietary names particular to the company selling them, but in general, they fall into three categories:
- Pink Stargazers: This well-known type is dark pink to red with white edges and rose- or brown-colored spots. It is hardy in zones 3 to 8 and flowers in early to midsummer. It is fairly compact, growing to about 30 inches. This type tolerates some shade.
- White Stargazers: White 'Stargazer' varieties have very large, showy blooms with petals that curl back at the tips. They are good for warmer climates, through zone 10. This type requires full sun and grows as much as 48 inches tall. It flowers in mid to late summer.
- Golden Stargazers: This new category is a cross between Oriental lilies and trumpet lilies. It has deep yellow blooms with red spots, with petals that curl back at the tips. It does well in part shade to full sun, grows to 4 feet tall, and flowers in midsummer. It is suitable for zones 3 to 9.
Deadhead each flower after it is done blooming, making your cut on the small flower stalk that separates the bloom from the rest of the plant. Deadheading prevents the formation of seed pods, which consumes energy that would otherwise go to replenishing the bulbs.
As with all bulb plants, you should let the plants continue to stand after blooming, for as long as the foliage remains green. Once the foliage turns completely brown, cut the stalks down to ground level.
Propagating 'Stargazer' Lily
Hybrid plants such as 'Stargazer' lilies are often a little more temperamental than other lilies, and they reproduce less vigorously than straight species lilies. Like most lilies, 'Stargazer' bulbs create small "bulblet" offshoots attached to the parent bulb. Here's how to propagate these offshoots to create more plants.
- After the plant has gone dormant in the fall, dig up lily bulb and carefully remove offshoot "bulblet(s)".
- Replant parent bulb in original hole.
- Dig a new hole for each offshoot at the same depth as the parent bulb (4-6 inches) and place the bulblet in the hole, pointed side up. Fill with soil.
Lilies can also be propagated by breaking off the layered leaf bases of the bulb (called scales) from the parent bulb and replanting them. Either way, it generally takes several years for the replanted bulblets or scales to become large enough for the plants to bloom, but diligently caring for them with proper water and fertilizer will speed up this process to a certain extent. If you don’t want to wait that long, or if you don’t want to leave it up to chance, it makes more sense to purchase a new plant.
Potting and Repotting 'Stargazer'
Stargazers are sometimes grown indoors in pots, and the bulbs may be "forced" to bloom on Mother's Day or other holidays. Plant them in pots at least 6 inches wide, in potting soil heavy with organic material and a pH of 6.3 to 6.5—a potting soil heavy in peat moss is naturally acidic and makes a good choice. A mixture of 3 parts garden soil, 2 parts peat moss (or coco coir, for a sustainable alternative), and 1 part sand also makes a good growing medium for potted lilies.
Lilies grown indoors are usually smaller, and they require relatively warm conditions—68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no lower than 60 degrees at night. Grow them in conditions that are as bright as possible.
Forced bulbs usually don't bloom again, even if you plant them outdoors afterward; they are discarded after flowering, Therefore the potted lilies won't outgrow their pots and won't need repotting.
The plants will die back in the winter but before that, you can trim off dead foliage and cut back the stems to the ground. Add a thick layer of mulch (a few inches) in very cold regions to keep bulbs warm and to protect them from pests. Remove the mulch in the early spring. Do the same for bulbs in pots. But you can also dig up the bulbs, dry them off, and put them in a paper bag for the winter before replanting them in the early spring.
Common Pests & Diseases
Hybrid lilies are usually pest-free, but potential diseases include lily mosaic virus, bulb rot, and botrytis (a fungal disease). Diseased plants should be promptly removed (including the bulbs) and destroyed.
How to Get 'Stargazer' to Bloom
To force lilies to bloom at a designated time, the bulbs will first need to be chilled for a period of about 12 weeks (this can be done in a refrigerator), then planted about 90 days before you want them to bloom. For example, if you want bulbs to flower on Valentine's Day, chilling should begin around September 1, with the bulbs planted just before Thanksgiving. It can take some experimentation to achieve the right timing to produce blooms exactly when you want. When chilling in a refrigerator, make sure to keep the bulbs separate from fruits and vegetables, which off-gas substances that can affect lily bulbs.
Can you plant a 'Stargazer' lily outside?
Stargazer lilies are hardy perennials that are meant to be planted in the garden where they will come back every year.
Why are they called 'Stargazer' lilies?
They were named after the way the blooms of the lily face toward the sky.
What are alternatives to the 'Stargazer' lily?
Other popular oriental hybrid lilies include:
- 'Black Beauty' with dark raspberry to dark red flowers; 4 to 7 feet in height, with a spread of up to 2 feet; best suited for USDA zones 3 to 8.
- 'Casa Blanca' with white flowers; 3 to 4 feet tall and 1 foot wide; grows well in USDA zones 5 to 8.
- 'Mona Lisa', similar to 'Stargazer' in color but without any white; only 16 to 18 inches tall and 1 foot or less wide; grown in USDA zones 3 to 9.
Is 'Stargazer' an oriental lily?
'Stargazer' lily (Lilium orientalis 'Stargazer') is a prominent member of the oriental lily group. In the classification system used by the American Lily Society and other organizations, 'Stargazer' falls into Division 7, which includes hybrids created from a select group of eastern Asian species, including L. auratum, L. speciosum, and L. japonicum. Oriental lilies are known for having large bowl-shaped or flat-shaped flowers that are unusually fragrant. 'Stargazer' and other members of this category bloom in mid to late summer, after the Asiatic and trumpet lilies.
Do 'Stargazer' lilies only bloom once?
'Stargazer' lilies are perennials and they will bloom once a year.
Lilium. Missouri Botanical Garden.