conditions for Turks cap seed

shelly0312April 1, 2003

Does one know what conditions are needed to successfully sprout and grow-on Turks Cap seed? Any help would be greatly appriciated.

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"Turks Cap" is a common name used for more than one plant. If you are talking about Lilium superbum, then warm-moist stratification (60 days) followed by cold-moist stratification (60 days) has worked well for me the past two years. You will have to check periodically during the cold-moist period, they may be ready to plant before the 60 days are up.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2003 at 2:47PM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

superbum is not found in our area northeastwisc. we have michiganense. superbum is the eastern reaches spp. and turks cap is the correct common name for superbum. michiganense is a mostly midwestern spp and common name should be michigan lily.

with all that said...what is the best is a-sexual reproduction. i have yet to have any kind of germ rate with the seeds and have givin up many years ago. my understanding is that lily also has a very long seedling stage.

if u do get some sucess...please inform us...many out here would LOVE to prop this spp.

good luck


    Bookmark   April 2, 2003 at 8:16AM
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Hi Froggy,

I agree with your species discussion above. Here's how the Wisconsin State Herbarium website ( puts it:
"Lilium superbum L., American Turk's-cap lily
All Wisconsin reports of L. superbum (and of L. canadense) should be referred to L. michiganense, generally accepted now as a distinct taxon somewhat intermediate between the aforementioned taxa."

It's the use of common names that occasionally finds me banging my head against the wall. Turk's Cap is used rather loosely for several different lily species as well as Melocactus intortus. When responding to a request for information on this forum, I generally assume that people are talking about L. michiganense or L. superbum. And we all know what assumptions can do...

With respect to the culture and propogation of L. canadense, L. michiganense and L. superbum, they are all very similiar. From seed, they are two step germinators. The first step "consists of forming a small bulb, often barely emerging from the seed coat, with or without a small root." This occurs at warm temperatures. The second step (root elongation and the formation of a true leaf) occurs AFTER an intermediate period of cold (not freezing) temperature. Usually, there is only a single leaf for the first year.

Not wanting to make this any more confusing than I already have, a warm-moist stratification followed by a cold-moist stratification has worked very well for me. I've had at least 90% germination each year.

Another important aspect is the quality of the seed. I've found occasional plants that produced only partially developed seed some years.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2003 at 11:23AM
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rod_95(5 se WI)

I think it great that both Froggy and northeastwisc talk about Wisconsin plants. It's so difficult finding others who take great interest in the stuff growing locally. I can't tell you how many times I've learned something from these posts about Wisconsin specific plants. Way to go!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 8:54PM
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I gather from Bill Cullina's book on growing wildflowers from the New England Wild Flower Society that growing lilies from seed is a real pain. Takes forever. On the other hand, I inherited one lilium canadense from the prior owner about four years ago, have divided the bulbs or corms or whatever about three times, and now have a dozen or more doing quite well.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 6:35PM
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I don't know about the pain, but patience is certainly required. The first year (after the relatively easy stratification process) all you get is one leaf. The second year is 2 - 3 leaves. The third year they begin to look like plants. Right now they are about 5 inches high, but the year is young.

I did notice that an interesting phenomenom had occurred when I was potting a few up last week to donate to the local Wild-Ones native plant sale. While digging them, I noticed that many had grown a large horizontal rhizome from the bulb. The rhizome ended in a slightly smaller bulb and a slightly smaller plant. Each spring when I looked at these plants I always had the feeling that they were doing very well. They are randomly planted in a group, so it had never occurred to me to count them. I hadn't realized that they were increasing in number as well as size. No wonder they looked like they were doing so well!

These plants are Lilium michiganense (Michigan Lily). Although L. canadense, L. michiganense and L. superbum are very similiar in many ways, I have only seen this horizontal rhizome occurs in L. michiganense. I was even surprised to see it at all, since the vast majority of the plants that I see in the wild are scattered single plants.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 1:47AM
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oogy4plants(6B MD)

I just checked my seeds that have been in warm stratification for about 4 months. They are sprouting now. I intended to put them into cold strat, but it looks like that is not necessary.
I also had seeds that I sowed outside in the winter at about the same time, but these have not showed above the soil.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 1:57PM
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Hello all, I plucked turks cap seeds for the first time this year, placed them directly into a shallow bowl sandwiched between wet paper towels. Within days they had sprouted roots and I have just planted them in pots and placed those outside. I assume the roots are still growing but I dont want to dig and disturb them. I suppose I shouldnt expect leaves this year (ha ha) but I am unsure of the cooling period. My plan was to transplant them to their final bed in late fall and wait until spring. Let me be clear: this is Canada, full freeze, no baby steps for plants. Any advice is welcome. Thank you

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 12:20PM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

hi natalie.

im encouraged that u got them to sprout. i promise i will try them next year, i even know the plant that im going to take them from.

if u got them to sprout, that is more than 1/2 the battle for natives. i have heard that they are hard to transplant so i would try and get them to their final destination asap. 4b=4b no matter where u are. if u collected them from wild grown in 4b, no reason why ur 4b would be much different in climate. soil is another story. i would try and copy the conditions as much as possiable to the collection site conditions; same soils, water and light.

as another note. i have been using berger soilless germination mix. i have found it amazing how well natives germinate on it. its sterile and easily holds water. just an fyi for those that like to germ out seeds.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 9:39PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I know a spot where some Turks cap grow naturally in southwest wisconsin. I haven't identified it specifically...
what would you look for to know exactly which species it is...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 5:36PM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

"superbum is not found in our area northeastwisc. we have michiganense. superbum is the eastern reaches spp. and turks cap is the correct common name for superbum. michiganense is a mostly midwestern spp and common name should be michigan lily. "


    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 11:27PM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

maybe i should make my self clearer.

if they are native in wisconsin, they are L. michiganense or michigan lily.

if they are the horticultural variety of turk's cap in our part of the world, they are L. superbum or turk's cap lily.

ive noticed that the michigan lily is a smaller plant than turk's cap. im not sure how to id them other than either being wild grown or in someones back yard garden. im not sure if turk's cap has viable seeds.

that is about as clear as u are going to get from me :)


    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 11:35PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

To answer my own question, I found this online (if anyone else is interested):

Lilium michiganense (Michigan Lily) can be distinguished from Lilium superbum (Turk's Cap Lily) as follows: 1) the former species has a more northern distribution in Illinois, 2) the anthers of the former are ½" or less, while the anthers of the latter species are ½" or longer, 3) the former has yellow bulbs, while the latter has white bulbs, 4) the tips of the tepals of the former curve backward toward the base of the flower, while in the latter species they curve backward considerably beyond the base of the flower, and 5) specimens of the latter species may have a conspicuous 6-pointed green star at the base of the flower, although it is not always present.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 5:29PM
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HI all.. I fell in love lavender Turk's Capn lily. I want to start grow it as my lilium collection, however it likes "wet meadows". I don't have wet meadows, or bog. Can I grow it in moist dirt? If yes.. Where can I purchase Turk's Cap lily bulb or seed? I am proud that I started grow Formosa Lily from seed. Formosa is three year old and finally blooms this year. I loved it!! Kat

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 2:49PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I started a rain garden so I could grow plants that prefer wet soils. You may want to google the term "rain garden" there is tons of great information out there...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 7:27PM
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