Description & Overview

Michigan Lily, a Wisconsin native perennial, looks an awful lot like Tiger or Ditch Lily, but is not invasive! A single stem with several whorls of leaves grows up to 6 feet topped by large, orange nodding flowers with recurved tepals. These decorative flowers bloom from July through August, eventually replaced by an oblong 1″-2″ seed pod by mid-August. Foliage is somewhat indistinctive and can be difficult to spot when they are not in flower or fruiting. Michigan Lily may also be known as Turk’s Cap or Turk’s Lily.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 3-6 feet

Mature Spread: 1-2 feet

Growth Rate: Very Slow

Growth Form: Erect

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Moist - wet, fertile

Flower: Orange with maroon spots, 6 - parted recurved tepals, 3" wide, downward facing

Bloom Period: July – August

Foliage: Green, mostly whorled, upper leaves alternate

Fall Color: None

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: 3 - parted capsule 1 ½" long

Suggested Uses

Michigan Lily is found throughout the state except for a few counties in the peninsula and northern region. Look for it in high-quality black soil prairies, fens, sedge meadows, swamps, wetlands, and along riverbanks. It thrives in areas most like its native habitat, moist to wet soil in full to part sun, making Michigan Lily an excellent option along ponds or streams, wet meadows, or within cottage gardens and perennial borders.

This may only be a plant for the true native enthusiast, or perhaps also for the adventurous gardener. Gardeners have difficulty keeping Michigan Lily in their landscape, dying away over time. That is because Michigan Lilies are rather picky about the conditions in which they grow and can be slow to establish and flower. Deer, rabbits, and other critters covet Michigan Lily, and that factors into their quick disappearance. Plant in the right site and if you have heavy wildlife in the area, opt for something more resistant. The payoff may be worth it though because the flowers will continue to mature and open after cutting, making this an excellent plant for a cut flower garden. Of course, they are stunning when planted en masse.

Michigan Lily, a Wisconsin native perennial, looks an awful lot like Tiger or Ditch Lily, but is not invasive! A single stem with several whorls of le…

Wildlife Value

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds seem to be the main pollinator of Michigan Lily but Sphinx moths, Hummingbird moths (Hemaris spp.), Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio spp.), Monarchs (Danaus plexippus), and Great Spangled Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele) are also attracted to the bright orange, decorative flowers.

Other insects, like Honeybees, Lily Leaf Beetles (Lilioceris lilii), Burdock Borer Moths (Papaipema cataphracta), Golden Borer Moths (Papaipema cerina), Narcissus Bulb Flies (Merodon equestris), along with a couple of species of aphids, all feed on plants in the genus Lilium.

Deer, rabbits, cattle, and horses, may browse on the foliage and voles will eat the bulbs.

Maintenance Tips

Michigan Lily likes deep, rich soil. Be sure to add plenty of compost and organic matter before planting.

They spread very slowly by stolons.

Add mulch around the base of the plant to keep the roots cool.

Michigan Lily, a Wisconsin native perennial, looks an awful lot like Tiger or Ditch Lily, but is not invasive! A single stem with several whorls of le…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: No
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant: No

Rodents may eat the bulbs. Beloved by deer and rabbits.

Leaf Lore

Though some people may call this lily “Turk’s Cap Lily”, Michigan Lily is a different species.

The genus name Lilium is the Latin name for Lily; derived from the Greek word, leirion, which is the name for Madonna-lily. The specific epithet michiganense means ‘of Michigan.’

Companion Plants

Companion plants that grow in similar sites include Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), Glade Mallow (Napaea dioica), Riddell’s Goldenrod (Solidago riddellii), and Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea).

Companion plants that would look especially nice next to Michigan Lily include Common Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum), Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata), Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and Steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa).

Michigan Lily, a Wisconsin native perennial, looks an awful lot like Tiger or Ditch Lily, but is not invasive! A single stem with several whorls of le…
beth delain1 avatar

Written by Beth DeLain