Lilies for Hummingbirds-Martagon Questions

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

I would like to add some lilies to my hummingbird garden and have read that the Martagons are a good choice for attracting birds. I've also read that Martagons can be a little tricky to grow so thought I would check with you "lily experts". I'm in zone 4, my garden is partially shaded with full sun in the morning. I have successfully grown Asiatic lilies in this garden.

My main question about the Martagons is where should I buy them? Several local nurseries offer plants in limited quantities in the fall for $20-$35. I've seen bulbs offered online for fall planting for less-$11-15 each. Would I be better off to get the plants or the bulbs? Is there anything I need to know about them to give them a better chance of thriving?


Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Hi Deb,

I can't answer your martagon questions because I have no experience growing them. But I wanted to call your attention to the online catalogue of The Lily Garden in WA. She doesn't list any martagons for sale, but mentions several Asiatic hybrids that are good for attracting hummingbirds such as:

Karen North
Red Velvet
Rosepoint Lace
White Lace
Antique Lace

I am sure there are others that I am forgetting, too. I highly, highly recommend The Lily Garden as source of quality bulbs, and probably most people on this forum would agree. The owner, Judith, is an amazing person and is one of the giants of the lily world.

I think B & D Lilies lists martagons for sale, usually in the fall catalogues. This is also an excellent, impeccable source. If you e-mail them to ask their opinion of planting martagons, I am sure they will give a very helpful response that will help you decide what is best for your garden and growing conditions. Both B & D and The Lily Garden have been patient enough to answer my e-mail queries whenever I need more information.

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Thank you for your reply, Ispahan. I will check into both of those sources.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

May I please second both of Ispahan's company recommendations? I have ordered from them year after year, and they are exceptional.

Wyoming, MN

Martagons are great choices for MN. They are not tough to grow , rather time consuming to get to blooming size. They are the first to emerge here and are able to take some cold weather once they are up, They also tolerate more shade than most lillies,but still do best with sun. I have about 8 varieties and they are in bud now. Always look forward to their appearance in spring.


Wyoming, MN

I neglected to add, most of mine have been purchased locally. A good source is Ambergate Gardens in Chaska. They do mailorder and the martagons are only available in the fall. I usually have them mailed because that is about an 1.5 hour drive from my home.


Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Thanks! Ambergate is not too far from me, I'm planning to check them out.

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

I have many lilies and 2 varieties of martagones. I just looked for the bulbs again because I wanted to add to my collection.
I bought Backhouse martagones from Brent and Beckys and a species mart from American Meadows, and recently added Russian River from a co-op..
I am not an expert so just planted the bulbs in fall. Dumb luck I suppose I cant tell what all the fuss is about.
Marts do take awhile to establish.

I was surprised when I didnt find many of the good websites didnt offer marts.
All the websites mentioned above are good.
I suppose marts arent offered in spring is for a good reason. Fall planting looks like your option there.

Check Plant Scout to see where marts can be found.

Image #1 are the American Meadows species.
Image#2 is Backhouse from Brent and Beckys

Thumbnail by ge1836 Thumbnail by ge1836
Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

ge1836-thanks for the information and the photos-American Meadows is gorgeous!!

Poland, ME

Martagons are expensive because they are very slow growing. It can take upwards of five years to get blooming sized bulbs. A great source for martagons is Hartle-Gilman Gardens in Minnesota!

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Martagons are just wonderful. I have a few and would buy more but I have a budget limit.
On the other hand anyone doesnt need many to make an impact so the cost doesnt seem so high.

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Thank you all! I just requested a catalog from Hartle-Gilman Gardens and will be visiting a few nurseries in June when the the Martagons should be in bloom.

small town, MN(Zone 4b)

Would someone post the website for Hartle-Gilman Gardens. I would like to take a look and possibly request a catalog.

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Here it is.

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

This is the email I got from them:

Thanks for your interest in Hartle/Gilman gardens. We have a website through You can look at our lilies there and call us directly at 763-568-9724 or send an e-mail to this address if you are interested in purchasing lilies from us. We will also be having an open house in Owatonna during martagon bloom time. At this time, you can see the lilies in bloom and place orders for fall delivery. I'm thinking the bloom will be around the first of June so the open house will be around that time. We will have an advertisement in the Owatonna paper and plan to send out invitations so I can let you know the exact date.
Barbara Sautner
co-owner, Hartle/Gilman Gardens
[email protected]

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

Brent and Becky's are having their 50% off sale on their summer stuff right now including basic martagons lilies. I've been happy with what I've purchased in the past from this season end sale.

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

I bought Back House from them.Took awhile to establish but they are wonderful.
Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out

I just went there and they dont have that sale posted.Maybe its just for certain customers.

OOOPS I didnt check the right one.Looks like a good sale.

This message was edited May 19, 2012 11:23 AM

This message was edited May 19, 2012 11:26 AM

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

$100 later I agree with you:lol: I splurged on lilies that I would never purchase at full price. Now I just have to not kill them or let them succumb to rot:lol:

Doesn't look like a sale (spring/summer 2012 catalog pages) but the discount shows once your cart is shown as a bulk one line discount of 50% off the order. It tally's up as you add to the cart. I ended up with about $115 in bulbs after discount and $24 shipping. Still a good deal to me for all the stuff I picked out (79 bulbs and 6 plants).

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Great sale-thanks for the heads-up :)

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

You're welcome:) They do it every May (I start checking at the beginning of the month since I'm never sure exactly when it starts:lol:) so it's a great way to add a few things and not break the bank. I had a bit of a bonus from my job and this was my splurge:)

Oxford, NY

Someone mentioned "dumb luck" with growing martagon lilies. That must be what I had this year. A single bulb came as a bonus with a larger trees and shrubs order from, of all places, Burgess. I have always wanted to try a martagon lily and here it was. I just dug a hole and plopped it down in, set in a stake, put a wire cage around it, in case rabbits or deer came around. I understand that deer are fond of lilies. The soil is rather horrible clay and unimproved. I watered it and within two weeks lily leaves were up. Then the drought came. I remembered to water ir ca couple of times before it bloomed. Very happy with the orange, recurved, classic flowers. It did not take 5 years. This fall I will improve the soil around it with fresh compost and mulch the area before winter. I wonder if I should dig bone meal or bulb food into the soil?

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