Stargazer Lily: History, Characteristics & Cultivation

Lilium ‘Stargazer’ is a hybrid lily that belongs to the ‘Oriental group’. Oriental lilies are known for their fragrant perfume, blooming mid-to-late summer. This isn’t just an average lily, it’s a star among the flowers, with its upward-facing blooms. The lily come in different colors, with the most common being a bright pink with speckles of yellow and white.

Stargazer lilies are easy to grow and do best in full sunlight. They have a fast growth rate and should be planted in well-drained loamy or sandy soil. When mature, Stargazers can grow to a height of 36 inches with a spread of 10 to 14 inches. They bloom in mid-to-late summer, producing 2 to 8 flowers per stem.

As a herbaceous perennial, the Stargazer lily dies back to the ground in winter and regrows from the bulb each spring. Under ideal conditions, the bulbs can live for approximately 10 years.

This flower was developed in the late 1970s by a hybridizer named Leslie Woodriff, who was based in California. Woodruff was looking to improve upon the “Rubrum” lily, a commercially available lily at the time. The Rubrum lily had downward-facing flowers, which some perceived as wilted or drooping. To achieve this, Woodruff cross-pollinated an Asiatic lily and an Oriental lily. This breeding strategy gave the Stargazer lily the upward-facing blooms it’s known for, along with the fragrance and form of the Asiatic lily and the hardiness of the Oriental lily.

Woodriff called the new cross ‘Stargazer’, because the blooms faced towards the sky, like a stargazer gazing at the heavens. Upon its introduction, the Stargazer lily quickly gained popularity among gardeners and florists. Its appearance, colors and strong fragrance made it an instant favorite.

The ‘Stargazer’ lily is a symbol of ambition, wealth, and prosperity, and is usually used in bouquets to express these sentiments. It is commonly used in celebrations and as a symbol of good fortune.

Characteristics of Stargazer Lily

  • Size and Growth Habit: It can grow up to 3-4 feet tall, with a spread of 10-14 inches. They have an upright growth habit and produce 2-8 flowers per stem.
  • Growth Rate: Stargazers are considered fast growers. Under ideal conditions, they can reach their mature size within a few seasons.
  • Bloom Size and Appearance: The flowers are large, about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. They are star-shaped with pink to red petals edged in white and speckled with darker spots.
  • Flower Orientation: The flowers have a trumpet-shaped form with reflexed tepals (petals and sepals that curve outwards).
  • Bloom Time: They bloom in mid to late summer, usually from July to August. Each bloom lasts for several weeks, and the plant can produce multiple flowers per stem, extending the overall blooming period.
  • Fragrance: Stargazer lilies have a strong, pleasant fragrance that can fill a room with its sweet aroma, often described as spicy.
  • USDA Zone: They are relatively hardy, thriving in USDA zones 3-8. This means they can withstand winter temperatures as low as -40°F (-40°C) with proper care.
  • Lifespan: With proper care, these lilies can live for up to ten years in the ground and multiply rapidly below and above the surface.
  • Hardiness: They are fairly hardy plants, but they may need protection from extreme weather conditions.
  • Disease Resistance: These lilies are generally resistant to most diseases. However, they can be susceptible to fungal diseases like botrytis blight, especially in damp conditions.
  • Pests: They can be susceptible to pests like aphids, lily beetles, and slugs.

Cultivation Tips


  • Timing: Plant the bulbs in either spring or fall. Fall planting allows the bulbs to establish roots before winter, while spring planting gives them a head start on growth.
  • Location: Choose a spot with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Partial shade is also acceptable, but flowering may be less prolific. Opt for well-draining soil to prevent bulb rot.
  • Depth and Spacing: Dig holes 4-6 inches deep and space them 6-8 inches apart. Plant the bulbs with the pointed end facing upwards and the root side down.


  • Watering: Water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid soggy conditions. Deep watering is preferred over frequent shallow watering. Aim to provide around 1 inch of water per week.
  • Fertilizing: Feed the lilies with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer in the spring as they emerge and again after flowering is finished.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Staking (Optional): The tall stems of Stargazer lilies can sometimes become floppy, especially with heavy blooms. To prevent this, consider staking them for support.
  • Deadheading: Remove spent blooms to encourage further flowering and maintain a tidy appearance.
  • Winter Care: In colder climates (USDA zones below 5), apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants in fall to protect the bulbs from freezing temperatures.
  • Propagation: Stargazer can be propagated by separating the bulblets that form around the main bulb after flowering is finished.