"Stargazer" lilies (Lilium "Stargazer") are the Vegas showgirls of the flower world. Wildly flamboyant, decidedly fragrant and shameless show-stoppers, pity the lesser flower forced to share its summer stage. An Oriental lily with an upturned face, "Stargazer" grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9.
To produce those big, beautiful flowers, the "Stargazer" requires consistently moist soil. The North American Lily Society suggests turning on the hose until the water drips from it and then placing it in the middle of a clump. Leave the hose there until the top 6 inches of soil are moist. Monitor the moisture content of the soil with a soil moisture meter.
Keep It Fertilized
Start the fertilizing schedule in spring, as soon as you see the green shoots poking out of the soil and then once a month until fall. Mix a solution containing 2 ounces of water-soluble, kelp-based 4-8-4 fertilizer in 1 gallon of water and pour it over the "Stargazer" lily until the solution drips from the leaves. Pour the remaining solution on the soil at the base of the lily. Always check the directions on the package because rates and application methods vary among brands.
A "Stargazer" lily shouldn't have a lot of problems with pests if you pay careful attention to its basic care needs. Prevent aphids, the most common pests on this plant, by providing adequate air circulation around the lily. To do this, cut back nearby plants and trees that block air flow. Should an infestation occur, blast the pests from the plant with a strong spray of water from the hose or use a ready-to-use insecticidal soap. Water the lily before treatment and spray all parts of the lily with the insecticidal soap until it is wet.
In Sickness and In Health
A "Stargazer" lily typically resists most plant diseases with the exception of infections of gray mold. Look for gray, water-soaked lesions on the foliage. The spots will turn brown and the lily will wilt. Gray mold is most common on injured plants, wet plants and those that lack adequate air circulation. Water and fertilize the lily in the morning to give it a chance to dry off before the weather cools in the evening. Dig up and destroy an infected plant to avoid spreading the disease.
What's at Stake
A "Stargazer" may need staking if it gets too tall and top-heavy. To avoid damaging the bulb when you insert the stake, install it at planting. Choose a short bamboo stake and place it 2 to 3 inches to the side of the bulb. This short stake acts as a guide to the bulb's location when it's time to insert a larger stake.
The Kindest Cuts
When all of the flowers on a stem fade, cut the stem just under the lowest flower. Allow the foliage to remain so that it will continue to feed the bulb. At the end of summer, the "Stargazer" lily's foliage will turn brown and die back. At this point, it is safe to cut off what's left. Cover the planting area with a 2-inch layer of mulch for the winter and remove it in spring, after the last frost date in your area.
"Stargazer" lily is toxic to cats. If it eats the lily, the cat may vomit, lose its appetite and become lethargic. Take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect it ate part of the plant because the poisoning can be fatal. Dogs are not affected by the lily, although you should discourage your dog from eating garden plants.