The Downsides Of Growing Tiger Lily Flowers In Your Garden

Lilies are genteel-looking flowers adored for their beauty and range of meanings, and the tiger lily is no exception. These brightly colored blooms represent strength, wealth, and prosperity, which have made them garden favorites. They remain especially popular for anyone looking to attract more pollinators to their yard. These sweet flowers are beloved by creatures like hummingbirds and butterflies, which pop by more often to a garden with tiger lilies — particularly if they've overtaken other plants.

Despite their beauty, these flowers are not necessarily the right choice for every gardener. Even if a pollinator paradise sounds exciting, there are some things to consider before introducing tiger lilies to your garden. They are known for their invasive nature if not carefully watched, and they can also carry disease and pose a toxicity risk for your pets. That's right, the kitty's got claws. 

Tiger lilies are highly invasive

Although we see them quite often in the United States, the tiger lily is not native to the country. In fact, they showed up in the late 1800s. These perennials became popular because they are easy to grow and care for, but they also became a problem once they started spreading. Unfortunately, it's their low maintenance status that is partly the root of their invasive nature. Since they don't need much to thrive, they can survive conditions other plants cannot. These characteristics are important for gardeners to understand, especially when evaluating the differences between invasive plants and aggressive growers

Since they can grow back if even parts of their roots are left intact, they must be carefully removed or smothered to keep them out for good. Don't place discarded tiger lilies in your compost pile either or you'll have bright orange blooms cropping up from your refuse. At the end of the day, it's better to plant native lilies over invasive, non-native varieties. If you want another option, there are plenty of other dazzling lilies that will bring color to your garden

Tiger lilies can make other plants sick

Aside from their invasive nature, tiger lilies lend themselves to another kind of spread — a viral one. As a species, lily flowers can obtain and spread the mosaic virus, though the biggest carrier is the tiger species. The plants pick up the illness from aphids, which then hop over to other garden lilies and pass it on to them. Though it can linger without symptoms, you can sometimes tell if the flowers are diseased by looking at their leaves and petals, which become discolored or scarred. Mosaic virus can eventually kill your lilies, so it's best to keep tiger lillies at least 100 feet away from other varieties like tulips.

Once mosaic sets in, there is no cure, so prevention is important. Sure, tiger lilies are beautiful, but they also have a lot of baggage. Knowing the risks of planting them is important before they invade or infect the rest of your garden. They also pose a danger to any household or feral animals like dogs and cats. Though PetMD says they're considered nontoxic to dogs, they can cause a range of "unpleasant" reactions if they're eaten. Meanwhile, the MSPCA says they are toxic to cats and can cause death or significant kidney injury.

If you're looking to diversify your floral collection, check out another type of lily that hummingbirds enjoy.