Look ma, no stakes!



As Michele and I have commented many times, we love Asiatic
and Oriental lilies and all their special hybrids, but they do get tall. Lilies
look good tall, but only the martagons will stand up by themselves in the
average garden. All the others have to be staked.


This stake is trying to hide against the ivy, but it still annoys me.

And unless you’re in a tropical climate, where a bamboo
stake might actually root and become a living plant again, stakes aren’t all
that attractive. I have been trying a couple different strategies. At top you
see the Orienpet variety “Touching,” which has been tied to a rather tall metal
trellis that also has clematis. And below, some very weak stemmed Black Beauties (they are in partial
shade) have been attached to one of the many varieties of aggressive vines
(that is the word I prefer and I’m sticking to it!) that rampage over our
property. This one would just love to envelope the house, but we cut it back periodically.


So there you have it—vines and lilies. Think of it next time
you are hesitating over a gorgeous lily bulb.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Since they like “their head in the sun and their feet in the shade”, I plant them in the skirts of shrubs. They can be discreetly propped up on a branch or tied to one if necessary.

  2. I have raised my stake acceptance factor, and I put the lilies further back in the border than I used to. Further back the stakes are less distracting in the surrounding greenery and the damage from the red lily beetle is less noticable. I can strip the leaves that have been seriously damaged on the lower leaves, which often look nasty anyway because in my garden they aren’t full sun.
    It is clear you know how to stake a lily (loosely) That is the most important element in the fantasy and unfullable dream that tall lilies will support themselves. “look, how natural” and just ignore the 6 foot vertical lines…well, what do you know? I do believe those are stakes !

  3. Good Grief… I’ll try again without typos –

    You all do not have a problem with the red lily leaf beetle? It’s a lily-destroying beast here in Vermont.

  4. Well, I have bad things happen to the lilies–one turned completely brown before blooming, but most seem to come up. I plant so many, I don’t keep track. We have the wrong soil for them here.

  5. Amanda–keep that beetle in Vermont! We do not want it crossing the New York state line.

    I only get annoyed when short lilies keel over. Otherwise, for anything five feet and over, I am willing to stake.

    Scheherazade–so ridiculously beautiful, with its cream-colored edge and black-red centers–is so sturdy this year at eight feet, that I’ve left a few unstaked as an experiment.

  6. Staking is a necessary skill for many gardeners, and it looks like you’ve mastered it with some interesting techniques. I’ll have to think about staking when I plant some of these tall lilies in my garden.

  7. I’ve never had to stake my Orientals. This year, I planted a new Asiatic (I can’t recall the name from my vacation spot in Maine 🙂 ) and I staked for the first time – odd for something less than 3 feet high. I moved some Orientals last year, and the spot got less sun than I thought, so I also had to stake some Stargazers. The rest of the lilies stand tall. What amazes me is how much the heights vary from year to year. This year, the Stargazers are almost 5 feet tall. Last year, they were barely 2 1/2. Even the lilies I didn’t move vary in height from year to year. And thank goodness we don’t have that beetle where I am in Maryland.

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