This Exotic-Looking Flower Adds Color To Your Yard While Attracting Hummingbirds

This Exotic-Looking Flower Adds Color To Your Yard While Attracting Hummingbirds

Do you want to add a splash of color to your shade garden and attract hummingbirds? Try planting toad lilies. With beautiful flowers that resemble orchids, these perennials are irresistible to hummingbirds and will give your outdoor space a tropical feel. Toad lilies grow in clumps and have a rhizomatic growth pattern, creating a lush and vibrant mass wherever you plant them. Alternatively, you can plant them as a stunning focal point in your garden.

These plants flourish in shady areas where other flowering plants struggle. Additionally, they bloom late in the season, providing much-needed color during the fall and winter months. Their nectar is also a vital food source for migrating hummingbirds during this time. If you haven’t been able to attract hummingbirds, there may be a few reasons why they are avoiding your yard.

What is a toad lily?

two toad lily blooms


Toad lily is the common name for lilies in the genus Tricyrtis spp. There are over 20 cultivated varieties of the toad lily. However, the most widely available ornamental species are the Tricyrtis formosana and Tricyrtis hirta. With a sprawling native range, toad lilies are native from the Himalayas to the Philipines, Japan, and Taiwan.  Both varieties are found growing in shady, moist areas near river banks or other bodies of water.

The common name “toad lily” comes from the fact that their flowers are speckled and have sac-like nectaries that resemble warts on toads. Their namesake is odd, considering the flowers resemble orchids more than toads. Low-growing, reaching a maximum height of 36 inches, with gorgeous broad-leafed foliage, toad lilies excel in the understory. The stems also tend to arch in the same direction, creating a flowing and graceful appearance with a gorgeous tropical bloom emerging from the top of the plant. The flowers are star-shaped and range from white to different shades of purple. The blooms last several weeks, adding a lovely, late-season pop of color to your shade garden. The blooms are also shaped in a way that allows hummingbirds to feed and enjoy the sweet nectar that toad lilies provide.

How to incorporate toad lilies in your garden to attract hummingbirds

toad lily blooming shade garden


A gorgeous addition to any shade garden or woodland garden, toad lilies are excellent flowering plants to help bring hummingbirds to your yard. In terms of where to plant in your garden, their flowers are on the smaller side, so they are best planted where you can see them up close. For example, they make excellent border plants for shady gardens. You can plant them en masse and they will form an abundant clump covered in flowers come late summer or fall. Additionally, they can be planted alone and mixed in with other shade plants to diversify a bed. Wherever you choose to plant them, their sweet nectar will undoubtedly attract many bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds are most active during August and September, which happens to be when toad lilies bloom, making them an excellent nectar source and hummingbird magnet. Additionally, hummingbirds are attracted to purple tubular flowers, which is why they are so drawn to toad lilies. While petite, toad lily flowers are an important nectar source for all sorts of pollinators. To add a lovely pop of color to your shade garden and provide a valuable food source for hummingbirds in their most active season, plant some toad lilies in your yard!

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.