VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

Plant Pick: Martagon lily, Turk’s cap

Latin name:  Lilium martagon

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Martagon lilies are native to Europe and Asia; the name martagon meaning cap or turban in Turkish.  The small scented flowers come in almost every colour except blue and are often spotted or freckled.  The downward hanging flowers with the reflexed petals give an exotic look to the perennial bed or forest edge. 

More expensive than other lilies because they are slower to grow from seed, they are among the first to bloom in the garden and their growing popularity is resulting in many new hybrids and colours. 

At Milner Gardens & Woodland, the Martagon lily is found in the Rhododendron Grove near the Candelabra Primula bed.


Photos courtesy of:  Phyllis Fafard.




Tall perennial bulb with stem roots.

Foliage type:

Whorled lanceolate to oval leaves.


90 cm to 2 m.

Hardiness Zone:

Zones 2 – 9 and does best with winter chilling.  In the higher zones, a summer mulch is recommended.


Sun or partial shade: at least 6 hours of sun is best.

Flower colour:

Ranges from species purple to hybrids of mauve, pink, orange, red, white and yellow; many with spots and shadings.

Leaf colour:

Medium green.

Flower time:

Early to mid-summer; blooms last longer in light shade.

Preferred soil

and Watering:

Prefers calcareous, well-drained soil and will tolerate well-drained clay and sand.  Dislikes peat moss around bulbs.


It is best planted in fall and dislikes being disturbed. 

Highly toxic to cats, if ingested.