Trillium

Trillium flowers

A group of hardy perennial woodland plants that need a moist shaded spot and humus-rich soil.

Family: Melanthiaceae (bunchflower)
Botanical Name: Trillium
Common Names: Wake robin, American wood lily

Foliage: Deciduous, ovate or diamond-shaped green leaves, often with attractive darker mottling,

Flowers: Large showy flowers with three petals and three stamens.

Flowering Period: Mid spring to early summer.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, humus rich soil (sand or loam). Acid or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in dappled shade. Plant in a north, east or west facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Columnar, upright.

Type: Rhizomatous, herbaceous perennials.

Origin: North America and Asia.

Hardiness: Hardy throughout most of the UK.

Planting and Growing Trillium

Plant pot-grown plants during autumn or spring. Best grown in a rich, moist but well-drained deep soil, in part shade. Preferably acid soil.

Best in partial shade, although they will tolerate sun if the soil is always kept moist.

Ideal for edge of woodland or under the dappled shade of trees. Plant in large clumps for best impact.

Taking Care of Trillium

Apply a mulch of well rotted garden compost or fine leaf mould each spring.

Pruning Trillium

Pests and Diseases

Slugs and snails may attack young shoots.

Propagating Trillium

Sow ripe seed in pots in a shady cold frame.

Divide rhizomes in late summer, once foliage has died back, or in early spring. Replant immediately, ensuring each piece has a growing point. After division they may take a year or more to flower.

Popular Varieties of Trillium

Rhizomes are usually available in late summer and early autumn.

Trillium cernuum has clusters of broad, green, leaves and white reflexed flower petals in April-May. Height 18in (45cm), spread 12in (30cm).

Trillium chloropetalum (giant trillium) is an erect or spreading form with purplish-maroon, white or greenish-white flowers. The broad leaves can be plain green or green, mottled with dark purple. Height to 18in (45cm).

Trillium erectum produces clusters of broad green leaves and deep purple flowers in April-May. Height 12in (30cm), spread 10in (25cm). For sale at Suttons.

Trillium grandiflorum (wake-robin) has attractive oval green leaves in clusters on short, stout stems. Flowers are usually white, ageing to pink, in April-June. Height 12-18in (30-45cm), spread 12in (30cm). For sale at Crocus.

Trillium luteum bears short, rounded, green leaves, heavily spotted with maroon. Yellow flowers in May-June. Height 6-12in (15-30cm), spread (9in 22cm). For sale at Crocus.

Trillium ovatum bears clusters of oval or rounded leaves and white or soft-pink flowers, in March-Autum. Height and spread 9in (22cm).

Trillium recurvatum has rounded green leaves with brownish mottling, and purple to white flowers, in April. Height 12in (30cm), spread 9in (22cm).

Trillium sessile (toadshade) has erect, narrow, stemless fragrant flowers. Ranging in colour from red and maroon to a greenish yellow. Marbled grey and deep green leaves. Height 12-16in (30-40cm), spacing 8in (20cm).

Trillium undulatum (painted wood-lily) has groups of rounded green leaves and white flowers with purple markings, in April-May. Height 12in (30cm, spread 9in (22cm).