The trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) have started to bloom in the Secret Garden. They are plentiful in my current Secret Garden and in the woods of my former home. You would think that a native plant that is so plentiful would be easy to grow, but that’s not so. Well, it grows in the garden well enough, but it can be a shy bloomer.

good blooming patch of trout lilies
When you plant trout lilies, this is what you hope to see.
trout lily leaves only
This is what you often see instead: a whole bunch of single leaved plants.

Note this flowerless patch is naturally occurring in the woods. So it’s not just you. It happens all the time, but the flowering patches are what catch your attention. William Cullina, in The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada speculates that there are two different forms–“one reproducing mostly vegetatively to form carpets of single leaves and seldom flowering, the other forming fewer stolons, emerging later, and producing large, paired leaves and flowers.” But, he adds, “it is hard to say whether these are genetically distinct races or just a reflection of growing conditions.”

good blooming patch of trout lilies
A beautiful flowering patch of trout lilies.

I have dug a flowering plant from our woods and planted it in my garden, and it reverted to a group of single leaved plants.

trout lily at base of peony
I discovered this trout lily growing at the base of a peony the first spring in our new garden.

It has gotten…