Erythronium Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Erythronium plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Dog's-tooth violet, Adder's tongue, Fawn Lily, & Trout Lily: Cultivation & Garden Use

Erythronium are small hardy perennials that reach between 15 and 30 cm (6 to 12 inches) in height.

They bear small lily-like flowers of white, pink, or yellow. these bloom in the early spring.

Their small size makes some species ideal for use in rock gardens.

Some common names for Erythronium include Dog's-tooth violet, Adder's tongue Chamise Lily, Dogs tooth lily, Adam and Eve, Adder's tongue, Fawn Lily, and Trout Lily.

Erythronium grandiflorum
Erythronium grandiflorum by Matt Lavin.

Erythronium by Wallygrom.

Erythronium Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Fawn Lily, Trout Lily, Adder’s Tongue, Adam and Eve, Avalanche Lily, Chamise Lily, Dog’s Tooth Violet.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm).
Native: Northern America, Europe, Asia.
Family: Liliaceae.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 9.
Flowers: Spring.
Flower Details: White, pink, purple, lilac, yellow. Reflexed. Lily-like. Pendant.
Foliage: Evergreen. Herbaceous. Lance-shaped to Oval. Wide leaves. Mottled.
Corms: 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm). Autumn. Spacing 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm).
Seeds: 1/8 inch (3 mm). Germination time: 1 to 18 months.
Seed: Method 1: Seeds should first be sown into flats in the autumn. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist. Bring the flats indoors at the beginning of spring and keep at 50 to 60°F (10 to 16°C). Transplant seedlings following the last frost.
Seed: Method 2: Sow seeds in a moist growing medium in flats, wrap in a large plastic bag, and then stratify by refrigeration for two to three weeks. Next bury the flat as described above. Once seedlings emerge transplant them to their final location.
Requirements and care: Full or partial shade. Moist, woodland-like soil. Regular watering during dry periods to keep soil moist. Late summer top dressing of leaf mold. Keep plants vigorous by diving every three or four years. Propagate: offsets can be planted at the beginning of autumn.
Miscellaneous: The species Erythronium japonicum is used to make the Japanese starch katakuriko, which is used to make tempura.

How to Grow Chamise Lily, and other Erythronium Plants

Erythronium can be grown from either seeds or corms. If growing from corms then they should be burried about 7 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) deep in the autumn.

Chamise Lilies and other Erythronium like to grow in a shady (partial shady location is fine too) part of the garden. This should have a rich moist forest type soil.

When growing Chamise Lily (and other Erythronium) from seeds, some preparation is required. First the seeds should be sown at a depth of about 3 mm (1/8th inch) in flats (in the spring).

These should then be wrapped in a black bag, then placed in the refrigerator for three weeks. The flats should then be sank into a shady area and covered with glass.

Once Chamise Lily seedlings emerge (germination can take anything from one month to one and a half years), they should be transplanted at a spacing of about 7 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) apart.

Caring for Erythronium in the Garden

Once established, it is important to keep the soil nice and moist. Following flowering, the plant dies back completely, and should be covered in top soil at the end of summer.

To maintain fresh plants, they should be divided every four years. This is also a good way of propagating new Chamise Lily plants.

Common Questions

How many members does the Erythronium genus have?

The Erythronium genus consists of about 20-30 species.

Do members of Erythronium make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Erythronium, or Dog's Tooth Violets, are lovely woodland plants with charming spring flowers.

Which Erythronium species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Erythronium dens-canis (European Dog's Tooth Violet) and Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily) are often grown by gardeners.

Are members of the Erythronium plant genus fragrant?

No, Erythronium flowers are not typically fragrant.

What is the perfect location to grow Erythronium?

Erythronium prefers shady or partially shady locations with rich, well-drained soil.

Is Erythronium invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Erythronium is not considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Erythronium plants from my garden?

To remove Erythronium, carefully dig up and remove the entire plant, including the bulb.


The Erythronium genus contains flowering plants native to North America and Eurasia. These spring-flowering perennials are cherished for their nodding, lily-like flowers and often attractively mottled leaves.

Erythronium plants prefer partial shade and well-drained, humus-rich soil. They can be grown from bulbs, which should be planted in the fall. Ideal for woodland gardens or the front of borders, they are also beautiful when allowed to naturalize in lawns or under trees and shrubs.

I hope that you found this guide on how to grow Erythronium plants in your garden. You may also enjoy my gardening guides on how to grow Lily, Calochortus plant, and Canna plants.