The oriental lily group includes the 'Stargazer' lily (Lilium 'Stargazer'). 'Stargazer' belongs to Division 7 of the American Lily Society's and other organizations' classification system, which contains hybrids generated from a small group of eastern Asian species such as L. auratum, L. speciosum, and L. japonicum).
Oriental lilies are distinguished by their huge, fragrant bowl-shaped or flat-shaped blossoms. After the Asiatic and trumpet lilies, 'Stargazer' and other members of this category bloom in mid-to late-summer.
One of the most popular hybrids in this group is the 'Stargazer.' It was created in the late 1970s as a hybrid between Lilium auratum and Lilium speciosum to produce flowers that face upward rather than drooping. The flower tips are "reflexed," meaning they curl back toward the stem, and the stamens are long and spectacular.
They are one of the most fragrant flowers, having a spicy scent that some people find overpowering. They are extremely showy blossoms, with a diameter of 6 inches or more, and there is nothing subtle about 'Stargazer.'
Tall enough to be planted in the center or back row of a flower garden, 'Stargazer' lilies can serve as focal points, with enormous blossoms in brilliant hues that are sure to attract the eye. Despite their height, they are one of the easiest lilies to cultivate and do not require staking.
Stargazers are attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, and they make great cut flowers. The best time to plant 'Stargazer' bulbs is in the fall, but if you miss that window, you can do it as soon as the ground can be worked in the early spring.
Care of Lily 'Stargazer'
Plant 'Stargazer' lily bulbs 6 to 8 inches deep in the ground in the fall or early spring. Planting three or five bulbs in groupings of three or five creates a beautiful appearance in the garden. Plants that are tall and thin should be planted 8 to 12 inches apart. They thrive in most soils, except constantly moist clay soil, which might cause the bulbs to rot.
Mulch around the plants' bases to keep the soil cool and moist. 'Stargazers,' unlike many tall plants, have robust stems that don't require staking.
Full light (8 hours per day) is optimal for stargazers, although they can also take partial shade. The stems will get slim and too long in shady areas, necessitating staking, which is usually never necessary when planted in brighter areas.
Oriental lilies like 'Stargazer' thrive in any medium soil with adequate moisture. They grow best in slightly acidic soils, but they can also thrive in neutral soils. In alkaline soils, feeding them with an acid fertilizer helps them thrive.
The bulbs of 'Stargazer' lilies must be kept wet, but they may rot if they are left to soak in swampy conditions or standing water. When the soil seems dry to the touch, it should be watered. These plants need about an inch of water every week, either from rain or irrigation. Watering should be done by soaking the soil to a depth of 6 inches; do not water above the blossoms since this may destroy them. Mulching will help to retain moisture in the soil.
Humidity and Temperature
Lilies grow well in all climate zones within their hardiness zone range, as long as the soil conditions are right, although they excel in hot weather. In the summertime, when temperatures typically approach 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, maximum flowering is obtained.
The leaves and stems of 'Stargazer' prefer full sun, but the bulbs should be kept cool. Planting them amid other shade-loving plants or mulching the area with a thick layer of mulch will help keep the bulbs cool.
'Stargazer,' like many other plants with huge, dramatic flowers, is a heavy feeder. Apply a considerable amount of 10-10-10 fertilizer when the shoots have appeared in the early spring, then replenish with smaller feedings every few weeks throughout the growing season for best results. After each feeding, drink a lot of water. If the soil conditions aren't right, feeding 'Stargazer' with an acid fertilizer, such as an azalea-specific formulation, will help it thrive.
Varieties of 'Stargazer'
'Stargazer' cultivars may have unique names given to them by the firm that sells them, but they generally fall into three categories:
- Pink Stargazers: This well-known kind is dark pink to crimson, with white margins and rose or brown dots. It blooms in early to mid-summer and is hardy in zones 3 to 8. It grows to around 30 inches in length and is fairly compact. Shade is tolerated by this species.
- White Stargazers: White Stargazers feature huge, beautiful blooms with curling petals at the tips. They are suitable for warmer temperatures up to zone 10. This plant prefers full sun and can reach a height of 48 inches. It blossoms from the middle of summer through the end of summer.
- Golden Stargazers: A hybrid of Oriental and trumpet lilies, this new category is a cross between the two. It has rich yellow blooms with crimson dots and petal tips that curl back. It grows to 4 feet tall and blooms in mid-summer in part shade to full sun. It can be used in zones 3 through 9.
- Other Hybrid Lilies in Comparison
Other prominent oriental hybrid lilies, in addition to 'Stargazer,' are:
- 'Black Beauty': This hybrid is dark raspberry to dark red and grows 4 to 7 feet tall with a 2-foot spread. USDA zones 3 to 8 are the best for it.
- 'Casa Blanca': This hybrid is 3 to 4 feet tall and 1 foot wide, with white flowers. USDA zones 5 through 8 are ideal for growing it.
- 'Mona Lisa': This hybrid is 16 to 18 inches tall and 1 foot or less wide, with a color similar to 'Stargazer' but no white. It can be grown in USDA zones 3 through 9.
After each flower has finished blooming, clip the short flower stem that separates the bloom from the rest of the plant to deadhead it. Deadheading stops seed pods from forming, which wastes energy that may otherwise be used to replenish the bulbs.
After blooming, like with all bulb plants, you should leave the plants standing for as long as the foliage remains green. Cut the stalks down to ground level once the foliage has become entirely brown.
Container Gardening with 'Stargazer'
Stargazers are occasionally cultivated in pots indoors and "pressed" to bloom around Mother's Day or other holidays. Plant them in pots that are at least 6 inches wide, in potting soil rich in organic matter with a pH of 6.3 to 6.5—a potting soil rich in peat moss is naturally acidic and makes an excellent choice. Potted lilies can also be grown in a mixture of 3 parts garden soil, 2 parts peat moss, and 1 part sand.
Indoor lilies are often smaller and require reasonably warm conditions—68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Grow them in the brightest conditions possible.
To force lilies to bloom at a specific time, chill the bulbs for about 12 weeks (this can be done in the refrigerator) before planting them about 90 days before you want them to bloom. For instance, if you want your bulbs to blossom on Valentine's Day, start freezing them around September 1 and plant them around the time of the holiday.
It may take some trial and error to determine the best time for your plants to bloom at the precise time you desire them to.Keep the bulbs separate from fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator to avoid off-gassing compounds that might harm lily bulbs.
Lily 'Stargazer' propagation
Like most lilies, 'Stargazer' bulbs produce miniature "bulblet" offshoots attached to the parent bulb, which can be broken off and replanted to produce more plants. Individual scale segments from the parent bulb can also be broken off and replanted to propagate lilies.
It usually takes several years for the replanted bulblets or scales to grow large enough for the plants to bloom, but careful watering and fertilization can help speed up the process. Hybrid plants, such as 'Stargazer' lilies, are more temperamental than pure lilies and reproduce less aggressively.
Typical Pests and Diseases
Although hybrid lilies are largely pest-free, diseases such as lily mosaic virus, bulb rot, and botrytis are possible (a fungal infection). Infected plants should be removed as soon as possible (including the bulbs) and killed.