Eremurus, family liliacea Back to Plants
This genus is native to Central Asia and grows commonly on heavily grazed mountain slopes There are some 43 species known but only 4 or 5 and several hybrids are commonly available. Not all species are bulbous or tuberous. The ones I offer are all tuberous. The root resembles a giant spider, hence the tradename Spider roots. A large central knob with roots radiating from this point composes the tuber of this plant. Foliage looks somewhat like Yucca, with leaves growing in a whirl out of the central knob and are triangular and thick. Stem, leaves and root are all storage organs. A tall sphere rises from the center of these leaves like a giant candle with hundreds of small star shaped flowers set concentrically around the stem. Flowers open from bottom to top of stem. This plant will self seed, but it is a very slow process, it takes 5 to 8 years to flower from these seeds. Stature varies quite a bit from Eremurus Bungii at 3 feet to Eremurus Robustus at 8 or 9 feet in height. Color also varies from pure white, cream, soft pink, salmon, apricot, orange, yellow, and burnt orange.
It is very important to plant this large root quite shallow 2-4” of soil on top of the nose is sufficient. If roots look dried up, soak in water for a few hours before planting, they will pick up moisture pretty quickly. Also when planting be sure the hole is large enough so that you can spread the roots out, similar to what you would do for a bare root tree. The roots increase quite slowly. A new root-stock forms on top of the old one, similar to what a gladiolus corm does; the old root dries up and eventually disappears. In this manner, the root also rises to the surface. Once foliage has died off, you can dig the whole thing up, peel the old root away from the new one and replant it immediately, they have no skin so they do not store well. Plants can be left alone for 2 to 3 years, then dug up and redivided without a problem. However, if plants are left in the ground much longer than that, the roots become very tangled and you literally have to chop them up to separate the noses. They are very hardy and tolerant of poor soil conditions. But you can lose them if your spot is wet over a long period of time, that is about the only condition they will not tolerate. Flowers are somewhat susceptible to blight if you hit a very wet spring. Spray with a good fungicide every three weeks or so when the stems are developing. I do not give my Eremurus any wind protection and occasionally a flower will break off because it is heavy with water. Birds also like to sit on the tops and perch, or a heavy storm may damage the heads. We dig, clean, wash and disinfect the root, then hand sort them according to size and store them in dry peat moss in bins in a cool barn. When you receive your roots be ready to use them as they will not store well over the winter.
If you familiarize yourself with the origin and natural growing conditions of these plants, you can avoid a great many costly mistakes. For instance, a plant that originates from a harsh land-climate will not do well in a tropical or sub-tropical climate, although it might prosper on higher elevations in such a climate.