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Trout Lily (Erythronium) Planting Guide


Golden Bells, Woodland Glories, Dog Tooth Violets, Fawn Lilies – Whatever You Call them Name, They’re Wonderful Woodland Plants

Trout Lilies

Brighten a woodland section of your yard next spring with an out of the ordinary touch, trout lilies. These yellow bell flowers with swept back petals sparkle in the April or May, before most of the shade perennials – hostas, bleeding hearts, ferns – have unfurled for the season. Pagoda is a hybrid prized for its extra large blossoms and vigorous nature. Planted in groups of 3 to 5 and scattered throughout light or dappled shade, these little treasures pop up practically overnight, suddenly there in full glory. Savor them for their magical arrival, happy bell-like blooms and unusual variegated foliage.

Curious about the odd names? Dog Tooth lilies comes from the pointed, elongated bulbs that resemble a dog’s canine tooth. Trout Lilies refer to the shape and speckled pattern of the foliage. The other names refer to the flower color and prefered growing site for erythronium.

Outdoor Beds

  1. Find a location where the soil is evenly moist during the early part of the year when these plants are actively growing. Areas that are a bit drier in summer and fall are fine as dog tooth violets are dormant during those times.
  2. Site your bulbs where they will receive light to partial shade or dapple shade like the kind found under deciduous trees.
  3. Plant these bulbs as soon after you receive them as possible as they prefer not to be out of the soil any longer than is necessary. Please do not allow them to dry out. Tuck the bulbs into loosened soil about 5″ deep and 2″ apart, with the pointed end facing upwards.
  4. After planting, water well settling the soil around the bulbs. Roots will form in the fall. Top growth and flower stems will form in the spring.
  5. Feel free to clip blossom to bring inside. This will not hurt the plants and will provide pretty stems of bell-shaped flowers for bouquets.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1″ of moisture per week is a good estimate. Keep in mind that weekly deep waterings are better than lighter drinks every day or two.
  7. After blooming has finished for the season, clip off any spent flower stems if you like. Your dog tooth violets will slip into dormancy in early to mid summer and disappear from view leaving space for other perennials to leaf out fully. Come next spring, the dog tooth lilies will reappear and over time will gradually developing into big clumps.

Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns

Dog tooth violets are best suited to planting in the landscape rather than in containers. These bulbs perform best in sites where they remain undisturbed.

Source ~


See Also …………

Plants We Love: White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)

PlantFiles: Trout Lily, Adder’s-Tongue ~ Erythronium americanum

Erythronium americanum – Ker-Gawl.

Erythronium americanum Ker-Gawl ~ Native Plant Database

Erythronium americanum Ker Gawl. ~ dogtooth violet ~ USDA



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