How to Grow Lilies

Few flowers surpass lilies for sheer beauty. New varieties and hybrids are constantly being introduced and during recent years there have been improvements in vigour, ease of culture, resistance to disease, plus a tendency for the bulbs to increase more rapidly. Lilies are much easier to grow than is often supposed and none are really expensive considering the magnificent display they give.

Many lilies thrive in the sun, but an even greater number prefer partial shade and are therefore very much at home growing in the herbaceous border or among shrubs, where the lower parts of the stems are shaded. With all lilies, good drainage is important, so everything possible should be done to plant in an open, porous soil, thus avoiding water collecting around the bulbs and encouraging decay. Where the ground is naturally very heavy, it is not difficult to improve it for lilies by removing the existing soil and replacing it with good material. In any case, it is a wise plan, especially with the rather more fastidious varieties, to take out a hole and place a layer of stones or other drainage material at the bottom before returning the soil. Add plenty of leafmould and sand to give porosity, and the bulbs can actually be set in a little envelope of sand.

The depth at which to plant is important and this is determined by the group into which the species falls. Lilies are divided into two groups—those which have only the normal basal roots and those which, in addition, develop secondary roots on the stems. These stem roots die away with the stem.

Generally speaking, non-stem-rooting lilies should be planted at two and a half times the depth of the bulb, with the exception of Lilium candidum and Lilium giganteum which should only just be covered. Stem-rooting varieties, on the other hand, must be planted at least 5 in. deep. With these sorts the basal roots feed the developing bulb, but the stem roots, which are abundant, maintain the actual flowers. It is, therefore, most important to know whether the particular variety of lily is a stem rooter or not and plant accordingly.

Which are the best lilies?

This is not an easy question to answer because of the immense range of varieties available, but here is a short list of some of the most rewarding species and varieties which can be grown in the ordinary garden.

Lilium auratum is known as the Golden-rayed Lily of Japan. This is stem rooting and produces many highly scented white flowers with crimson spots, each petal marked with a golden ray, on 5 to 7-ft. stems during August and September. Bright Star is an Aurelian hybrid, producing fragrant ivory-white flowers which are apricot inside on 3 to 4-ft. stems in July. It is also stem rooting.

One of the oldest of the cultivated lilies is the Madonna Lily, Lilium candidum, which produces pure white chalice-like flowers on 3 to 4-ft. stems in June and July. Planting time is from early September to October only and the bulbs should be planted shallowly, 1 in. being deep enough.

The Fiesta hybrids have reflexed flowers in yellow, orange or red, all with maroon-black spots, and are 3 to 5 ft. high. Fire King has large brilliant orange-red flowers which are spotted purple and is 2 to 3 ft. high. Golden Splendour has trumpet-shaped flowers of golden yellow with maroon stripes on the reverse of the petals, and is 4 to 6 ft. high.

Lilium hansonii is a bright golden yellow, spotted brown. The fragrant Turk’s cap flowers are borne on stems 31 to 4 ft. high. Lilium henryi has rich deep orange-yellow scented nodding flowers. It is stem rooting and is 5 to 6 ft.

Lilium umbellatum (hollandicum) is the group name of many easily grown stem-rooting hybrids, all flowering in late June. Among the best of these hybrids are Apricot, orange, 1-1/2 ft.; Orange Triumph, many bell-shaped flowers of orange-yellow, 3 ft.; and Vermilion Brilliant, an intense red, 1-1/2 ft.

Lilium lancifolium (speciosum) thrives in sun or partial shade and flowers in August or September on 3 to 5-ft. stems. These stem-rooting lilies should be planted about 5 in. deep. Roseum is white, heavily spotted pink; rubrum, white spotted red; and album is pure glistening white.

Lilium longiflorum is an old favourite with lovely trumpet-shaped waxy-white flowers on 3-ft. stems in June and July. Lilium martagon is the true Turk’s Cap Lily which will grow in almost any soil or position. Growing 3 to 4 ft. high, the stems produce twenty or more spotted flowers varying from light purple to pale pink. The variety album has pure white flowers.

Lilium pardalinum giganteum has large recurved orange-red flowers, spotted purple, and is 5 to 6 ft. high. Lilium regale has fragrant white trumpets with golden-yellow shaded throats, the reverse of the petals being marked brownish-red. It is 3 to 4 ft. high. Lilium tenuifolium has brilliant vivid scarlet Turk’s cap flowers on 1 to 2-ft. stems.

Lilium tigrinum splendens, the Tiger Lily, has fiery-orange flowers which are spotted black on 4 to 5-ft. stems. The Mid Century hybrids are a marvellous group of inexpensive stem-rooting lilies derived from Lilium tigrinum. The colours vary from lemon yellow through shades of orange to crimson on 2 to 3-ft. stems. Plant at 5 in. deep. The Olympic hybrids have large trumpets varying from icy green to pink. They are very strong growing reaching a height of 4 to 5 ft.

Lilium bulbs should never be exposed to the light, otherwise the scales will become soft and flabby. If they cannot be planted immediately on receipt, they should be kept in peat or similar material so that they remain firm.

08. July 2011 by admin
Categories: Bulbs and Corms, Lilium, Plants | Tags: , , | Comments Off on How to Grow Lilies


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