Trout Lily – A guide to growing

Gardening , Grow , Grow Guide Apr 17, 2018 No Comments

Trout Lily

The trout lily can be part of large colonies which can completely cover a forest floor.

Spring-Flowering Bulb

Botanical name: Erythronium americanum
Family Classification: Liliaceae Family

(Also known as Dog’s Tooth Violet , American Adder’s Tongue)

Native to eastern North America, the Trout Lily is delicate but hardy, with nodding, lily-like yellow blooms. Once matured, these delightful flowers rise above two basal leaves that are dark green and mottled with brown. It is these leaves from with the trout lily gets into name as these leaves resemble a trout. It is best used in mass plantings in naturalized settings where the soil does not dry out.


Part shade
Bloom time
0.25 to 0.75 feet

How To Plant

Plant the bulbs 5″ beneath the soil surface. This is somewhat deeper than you would expect for a such a small bulb, however the trout lily really does require this depth.

Maintenance and Care

Propagate by division or separation – Divide the plants in summer after the foliage has begun to die back. If dividing in hot weather, make sure the new planting location is moist.

Site Characteristics

This pretty flower, prefers rich, moist but well-drained soils which do not dry out.

Sunlight Part shade
Soil conditions Requires damp soil
Hardiness zones 3 to 9

Plant Traits

Lifecycle Perennial
Ease-of-care Easy
Height 0.25 – 0.75 feet
Spread 0.25 – 0.5 feet
Bloom time
  • Mid-spring
Flower color
  • Yellow
Foliage color
  • Dark Green
Foliage texture Medium
  • Plants have two egg shaped basal leaves.
Shape in flower
  • Flower stalks with upright
  • Spikes

Special Considerations

Trout lily flowers have been used for both medicinal purposes as well as being found in a light salad or within a refreshing tea. The flavour of the leaves can be somewhat mild, with sweetness being drawn from the flowers nectar.

Special characteristics
  • Non-aggressive
  • Non-invasive
  • Native to North America – Eastern US / Canada (from Nova Scotia to Florida)