Stargazer Fact File
Stargazer lilies, or Lilium, are fairly new on the floral scene. They were created in 1978 by Leslie Woodriff, a lily breeder in California, and are now quite common throughout north America. The flower was named ‘Stargazer’ by Woodriff because the blooms face the sky as they open.
It was not until the early 1900s that the lily was taken from its wild habitat in parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas to be cultivated, and only then did the hybridisation of the plant begin. The stunning Stargazer hybrid was a match made in heaven – its striking blooms and heavenly scent were created when the Asiatic lily and the Oriental lily were cross-bred. This exotic flower has rapidly risen in popularity to become one of the most adored and sought-after of all the lily varieties.
When mature, Stargazers reach a height of about 36 inches with a spread of 12 to 16 inches in an upright form. Their foliage is minimal with the stunning flower being the main focus of the plant. Each stem bears four to five flowers and gives off a beautiful fragrance. The flowers bloom naturally from May to September for two to three weeks, but they can be forced to bloom at other times of the year with careful planning. In the garden, Stargazers are said to be easy to grow – like most Oriental lilies, they need a spot in full sun to partial shade in order to thrive. When it’s cut, this unique flower has a long vase life, making a bold yet delicately fragrant addition to any household. The pollen of the Stargazer is very potent and can stain very easily, even on hard worktops and furnishings. The trick is too remove the vibrant orange pollen from the centre of the flower before it develops ‘fur’.
In ancient mythology and in folklore from around the world, the lily has appeared as a deeply spiritual and philosophical metaphor, traditionally representing innocence and purity. Stargazer lilies have also become associated with these meanings but they have others as well – the white Stargazer is often used as an expression of sympathy, innocence and purity, while the pink or red varieties are considered a symbol of romance, wealth and prosperity, as well being as a sign of aspiration. An Oriental meaning for the Stargazer lily is ‘I see Heaven in your eyes’.
The Stargazer plant is poisonous to humans when ingested and can cause nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. In some cases anaphylaxis occurs. It is also toxic to cats, so the flower should be kept out of reach.