Michigan Lilies: Breaking Ground to Dormancy

The Michigan lilies break ground at the very end of April under the redbud, with a lot of company. Last year, the wood phlox had just broken dormancy by the end of the first week of May. This year, the phlox was in full bloom, and the lilies were a little less obvious.

The northern end of the rain garden: the big, oval, chartreuse leaves are bluebells; the lavender flowers are wood phlox; and the sprays of narrow leaves are the Michigan lilies. Photographed on May 6, 2021.

Less than two months after breaking ground, the lilies are a couple of feet tall and in bud.

Michigan lilies, in bud. Photographed on June 21, 2021.

They bloom the first half of July.

Michigan lily bud opening. Photographed on July 4, 2020.

They are somewhat variable in color and freckling.

A very lightly freckled Michigan lily. There is faint freckling showing through the petal on the left. Photographed on July 2, 2020.
A heavily freckled pair of Michigan lilies. Photographed on July 7, 2020.

This year, there is a little less variability in the freckling, but the heights are more variable than last year. Everything looks remarkably green. We had flooding less than two weeks ago, and those lilies are sitting near the rain garden’s northern entry. The north downspout exits near the edge of the myrtle and flows over about two feet of sloped lawn into the rain garden.

The rain garden’s Michigan lily patch is enjoying the extremely well-hydrated soil. Photographed on July 5, 2021.

Despite the 90°+ heat, and ridiculous humidity—or maybe it’s because of it—the lady ferns at the left edge of the photograph of the lily patch are still sending up new leaves.

Michigan lily seedpods set by mid-August. When you look at this photograph, you will believe that getting a well-focused picture of a lily seedpod that is still attached to its plant is on my bucket list.

Michigan lily seed pods sway at the slightest provocation. Photographed on August 12, 2020.

Less than a month later, there is virtually no sign of any lilies.

Michigan lilies go dormant before fall. Photographed on September 7, 2020.

It will take a few years of observation to determine whether they always go dormant at the same time. Do drought conditions hasten dormancy? We shall see.