Identifying Leopard Lilies or Ripe Lilies

Hi Sue,

Can you identify this plant? It stands approximately 36 inches tall, with sturdy sword-shaped leaves. I didn’t plant it, I don’t know what it is.

Thank you for your column and your wise and reliable advice on the garden!

—Cindy Schmauch

Fortunately, Cindy provided a photo of the plant, showing the leaves, extended flower stalks and flowers. I believe Cindy has Leopard Lilies (or Blackberry Lilies, formerly Belancandra Chinesis, but Iris Domestica, since 2015).

The six-petalled flowers are about two inches in diameter. They are orange with red spots and undertones. The flowers appear on slender two to three foot stems with loose spikes. While each flower lasts about a day, the flowers will bloom over a period of several weeks.

The leaves are sword-shaped, about 18 inches tall. The plant grows in clusters and is considered a short-lived perennial. There is a small rhizome at the base and the pods develop after the flowers have faded.

You can grow leopard lilies in a site that receives full sun to light shade. They prefer to grow in well-drained, moderately fertile soil, but will grow in poorer, drier soil. You can extend the flowering period by cutting off the faded flowers. This will also prevent the lilies from self-seeding.

I liked your article from June 25 on rodent, deer and mosquito control – with one exception. I wish you hadn’t encouraged people to consider using a mosquito fogger. From what I’ve read there is a major problem with fogging is that it kills all other insects it comes in contact with including butterfly larvae, all beneficial pollinators, etc I’m no expert but here are some sources I’ve read lately:

https://www.nwf.org/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2021/April-May/Conservation/Mosquitoes

https://colinpurrington.com/2018/09/buzz-on-mosquito-sprays/?fbclid=IwAR1tQ9PRHh7EAJFzHz9lWpSIhrU03CDgQNQsKRho1Fs3Y-DdzC356GQtVrk

—Barbara Malt

As with most subjects, there are several solutions, some good, some better and some worse.

I should have mentioned that while the fog itself isn’t harmful, the chemicals used can be. Most foggers use a non-selective insecticide that will kill mosquitoes but also a large number of harmless or even useful insects that are natural predators or pollinators. Always be aware of any chemicals you use and their effect on non-target insects or on plants if you are using a non-specific herbicide.

Another example would be larva killers. While they can solve your lawn problem with Japanese beetle larvae, they can also destroy any other larvae, good or bad, in the area.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has announced that the 2023 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show will return to its indoor location at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in early spring March 4-12, 2023.

Although the outdoor shows were wonderful, I’m glad he’s coming back to the convention center, less on foot and less dependent on the weather, and in early spring when I need beautiful gardens and wonderful scents .

As the hot summer days approach, many plants start to look a bit seedy. So do what you can to keep gardens weeded, dead flowers, and consider mowing annuals. A good haircut does wonders for those sad petunias, for example.

If the weeds are getting ahead of you, be sure to cut and remove the flowers before they set seed. If you don’t, thousands of weed seeds can be released into your garden, creating an even more difficult weed problem in the future.

The dead head not only makes the garden more beautiful, but also encourages many plants to continue flowering. So a few minutes spent cutting off faded blooms can translate into a few more weeks of beautiful blooms.

Monarda peaks and attracts hummingbirds and many insects to the garden. The hydrangeas blooming on last year’s wood are also in full bloom, reminding me that in a week or so I should get the pruners out and make any shape or size before next year’s blooms begin to form.

Our micronutrient sprayed tomatoes continue to outperform non-sprayed ones, but things have gotten a bit complicated as some of Jack’s early varieties are fruiting, confusing the calculations for now, are they growing slower because do they use energy to grow or are they slower because they are not sprayed? Obviously a better test would be to spray one and not the other of two identical tomatoes, but I haven’t done the planting or spraying so I can just observe and try to notice any difference.

Sue Kittek is a freelance gardening columnist, writer and speaker. Send your questions to Garden Keeper at [email protected] or by mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, PO Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.

Planting: Start sowing seeds in flats for fall flowers like pansies and snapdragons or ornamental foliage plants like mustard, cabbage and kale. Plant but protect from heat: Late season cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas and broccoli for a late summer or early fall harvest. Sow seeds that require a cold period to germinate. Poppies are an example. Asters and chrysanthemums are beginning to appear on the market. Start thinking about adding to your fall display, either in the garden or as part of a container display. Hold the new plants until the weather cools. Group them together for easy watering.

Seasonal: Plant tall flowers and provide supports for climbing plants.

Let the last wave of flowers go to seed. Many provide food for birds and small mammals during fall and winter.

Take cuttings from the annuals you want to overwinter.

Order asparagus, rhubarb, bulbs, flowering and fruiting plants and shrubs for fall planting. Shop nurseries for end-of-season deals or fall novelties. Weed often and cut the flowers of any weeds you haven’t pulled. Dead flowers and trim damaged, diseased and dead foliage to keep beds tidy and encourage reblooming. In particular, prevent irises and daylilies from forming pods. Let the peony leaves grow until fall, then prune them. Prune summer-flowering shrubs about two weeks after flowering. Stop pinching helenium, chrysanthemums and asters. Test the soil for new beds, retest the soil in poorly performing areas or those that have not been tested in the past 3-5 years. Apply a corn gluten weed killer to the garden and establish a reapplication schedule, usually at four to six week intervals.

Lawn: Buy seeds for fall lawn projects. Sow, overseed, dethatch and aerate lawns from September to mid-October.

Buy a broadleaf weed killer. Apply broadleaf weed control from September to mid-October. Plan sod projects and order sod. Install sod as the weather cools, in September and October. Treat against chinch bugs and meadow borers. Buy fertilizer and, if desired, now until mid-October. Trim as needed, based on growth, not timing, to a height of about 2 ½ to 3 inches. Use a sharp blade. Keep newly seeded or turfed lawns watered; rain supplement in weeks when less than an inch. Apply crabgrass control pre-emergence. Fill in holes and low spots in the lawn. Apply a corn gluten weed killer in the garden; reapply at four to six week intervals.

Chores: Start preparing the plants to go indoors. Repot those that need it and pot those that you want to overwinter indoors. Harvest crops regularly, at least every other day. Check the pipes; replace washers and correct leaky fittings. Drain standing water and remove anything that can collect rainwater to help control mosquito populations. Check seed inventory for late season crops and fall plantings. Water all recent plantings and containers whenever we live a week with less than an inch of rain. Repair damaged screens and garden hoses. Note the damaged caulking around doors and windows. Drain standing water and remove anything that can collect rainwater to help control mosquito populations. Protect deer, rabbits and groundhogs from vulnerable plants. Reapply any taste or odor repellents.

Clean out gutters and direct runoff water away from the foundation of the house.

Tools, equipment and supplies: Check spring equipment and supplies, repair or replace. Sharpen blades, get fresh gasoline, check and/or replace oil. Send mowers and tractors for a tune-up or repair.

Security: Clear lawns of debris before mowing and make sure pets, children and other people are clear of the mowing area.

Store garden chemicals indoors, away from pets and children. Throw out expired ones at local chemical collection events. Photograph storm damage before cleaning or repairing for insurance claims and file promptly. Anytime you are outdoors and temperatures are around 50°F or warmer, watch for tick bites. Use insect repellent containing Deet on the skin. Apply a permethrin product to clothing. Wear light colored clothes, long sleeves, hats and long pants when working in the garden. Stay hydrated. Drink water or other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages. Even in cold weather, apply sunscreen, wear hats and limit sun exposure. Wear closed shoes and gloves; use eye protection; and use hearing protection when using noisy power tools.

Terri S. Tomasini