Growing lilies (other plants) in clay soil can be accomplished with good results. Will lilies grow in clay? Yes. With shaded moist cool soil, here’s how.
Lilies grow best when basking in sunshine, but with a shaded, cool soil that is moist, crumbly and well-drained. Clay soils are naturally dense, compact easily and do not drain quickly, causing the bulb to rot.
What is Clay?
Amend The Clay
While wet (not saturated) or damp, amend and berm the clay soil before planting the lily bulbs. A light amount of compost, well rotted manure will help break down the clay. Add plenty of pumus granules for good aeration. However, our Power Grow soil amendment and potting mix blend is the best material to use. Gypsum alone will help but needs to be mixed with the clay soil.
How, When, Where
Choose an ideal area in the garden (such as a level grade or a gentle 5 to 10% slope) that does not tend to puddle or remain soggy after irrigation or rain. Avoid a depression or the base of a slope or hill because that’s where water will accumulate. Your planting area should receive at least four hours of uninterrupted sunlight daily. Some shading during this period is ok (such as caused from a tree limb, side of a building, other garden plants) but not too long.
Dig the soil with a shovel to create the lily planting bed. Cultivate the clay deeply, to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. It will be best to dig your spots for your lily bulbs in the Spring while the soil is wet otherwise, moisten the soil enough to make digging easier. Turn the soil, smashing and pulverizing all soil clumps…the smaller the better. Try to work so you don’t walk over the clay soil you’ve just turned over.
Water the lily bulbs as needed being careful not to over water and rotting your bulbs. Lilies do not require a lot of water, only enough to keep the soil damp. You want the amended berms of clay soil to be evenly moist, never soggy or sticky in texture. Place a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the mounded soil in the lily planting bed. Mulch shades and cools the soil in summer, reduces weeds, and conserves moisture.
Place 10 to 14 inches of organic matter or ammendments into the freshly dug clay soil bed. And scattering it in increments of 2 to 3 inches at a time. Consequently, followed by mixing and incorporating the clay and organic matter. Mixing it with the shovel is easiest. Work the compost or well-rotted manure at least to the 8-inch depth. This organic matter improves the soil’s texture porosity and drainage. Afterward, the planting bed should be 4 to 8 inches higher than the surrounding grade.
Allow the planting bed or burm to naturally settle for a week or two before planting the lily bulbs. Follow our planting and care directions that accompany your bulbs. Lily bulbs are planted two to three times as deep as the bulb’s height. Subsequently 4 to 6 inches deep. Space bulbs at least 16 inches apart. Air circulation around lilies is important, especially in gardens where moisture is abundant or slow-draining clay soil dominates.
Raised Beds/Large Containers
If digging and amending clay soil sounds overwhelming or you’d rather be doing something else. Build raised beds. Or grow lilies in large containers.
- Minimum depth should be eight inches.
- Strong wood for frame. 2″x8″ or larger.
- Attach 1/4 ” square contractors wire across bottom. Preventing varmits from entering and eating bulbs.
- Use fresh potting mix with a minimum of 40% pumus for good aeration and drainage. Replace every three to five years.
- DO NOT USE GARDEN SOIL.
- Plant bulbs a minimum of 3 inches deep.
- Fertilize twice yearly.
- Keep Ph at 6.3 to 6.5.