Planting and Care of Lilies
Below you will find useful planting and care instructions and some helpful hints that I have learned over the years that will help your lilies thrive for years of enjoyment.
TYPES OF LILIES (LILIUM)
Mostly non-fragrant, they come in all shades and color combinations, multiply rapidly, and bloom over a long season. The flowers can be up facing, side facing or down facing, vary in height, and flower early to mid season (depending upon the plant).
Orientals, Trumpet and Aurelians
These varieties are the most exotic and showy of all lilies but multiply more slowly. They can be grown in somewhat arid, colder climates in low fertile soil but will take a little more effort on your part for good survival in these conditions. Amending the soil and providing heavier winter protection of straw, leaves and peat moss is recommended. Spring planting allows them to settle in and are more apt to make it through harsh winters. Protecting them from the first frost and by covering with a cardboard box or heavy straw during extreme cold weather, will allow the bulbs to mature more fully for the following year. The large beautiful scented flowers that bloom late summer will be well worth the extra effort needed.
Orienpet – Longiflorum – L.O. Hybrids
Orienpets are cross bred between Orientals and Trumpet lilies. These lilies are breakthroughs giving improved vigor and large showy flowers. They are more hardy then their parents; the orientals, trumpets and longiflorums. Lilies in this group should be mulched their first year to aid in over wintering in cold climates. Spring planting of this group allows them to settle in and are more apt to make it through the winter with little care.
Tiger Lilies (Species)
Depending upon how and where you plant them, most tiger lilies do not require specialized care and will naturalize themselves very well. They are very adaptable to most soil conditions and environmental conditions. They do quite well in warm, moist climates with fertile soil. Tiger Lily bulbs for the most part are smaller than hybrid varieties, but will produce good quality stems and a lot of blooms. Their delicate, beautiful flowers are quite showy and most will bloom for long periods compared to other lilies.
Asiatic, Oriental, Orienpet, Trumpet, Tiger Lilies
GENERAL PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS
Planting lilies purchased in containers can be delayed for as long as you like provided they are kept moist while in the containers. Purchased bulbs are never completely dormant so they should be planted as soon as possible. If for some reason you are unable to plant your bulbs immediately, keep them refrigerated and moist in the poly bag along with the packing material they came in. Our packing material will absorb any moisture that accumulates and keep the roots fresh. Provide adequate ventilation by opening the top of the bag completely until you can plant them.
It is somewhat important to choose the right location. Lilies require direct sunlight for part to all of the day but do very well grown in full sun during the am hours and shade from about 2pm on. They also like “well drained soil. A medium sandy loam soil with a reasonable amount of humus is ideal. Peat moss, organic compost, peralite, or a good potting soil can also be added. Heavy soils can be lightened with course sand and peat moss. If using manure make sure it is well rotted (at least 1 year old) and use as a top dress only, otherwise it can cause damage to the bulbs by lowering their disease resistance. Commercially produced manure is excellent. Do not use chicken manure too high in nitrogen no matter how old it is.
Plant to a depth of 4 to 6 inches and 12-16 inches apart. Trumpets and Orientals should be planted to a depth of 6 inches for extra winter protection in areas of extreme cold (-10 degrees and below). Place your lily bulb with its roots down and scales pointing up. I do not recommend adding bone meal because dogs and other rodents will dig for the bone meal therefore destroying the bulb. Instead add some seasoned compost or mulch and/or commercial fertilizer. Cover with your soil mixture, then pack the soil in well around your bulb to remove any air pockets. If the soil is extremely dry, add a bit of water before covering. Lilies make a nice show if they are planted in triangular groups of 3 per variety.
Bulbs may be planted singly in a 6 inch or larger pot, and in groups of 3 or more equally spaced at your discretion, allowing at least 2″ to 4″ of soil above the bulb. I do not recommend planting deeper than 4″. Here’s why: people have a tendency to over water when lily bulbs are planted in containers (I am no exception). For example, if annuals or other small perennials are planted to accent the lily flower at the top of the container, they will take a lot of extra watering that the lily bulb does not require therefore chances are you will rot the lily bulb in this case. If you are going to plant the lily bulb in this manner, plant it no deeper than 2″ and cover or remove it from the container before Fall or Winter.
Use a commercial potting soil mixed with a ph level of no more than 6.7 that has 1/4 coconut, 1/4 mulch, 1/3 perlite, and 1/4 washed sand to allow for good drainage. DO NOT USE MUSHROOM MULCH OR COMPOST, IT HAS TOO MUCH LIME AND TOO HIGH OF PH! A bi-monthly application of fertilizer, not exceeding 10% nitrogen with high mineral content such as our custom lily blend of 9-0-19 is recommended as well as repotting every three years or so with fresh soil. Because lilies are never completely dormant, extra care for winter in colder climates must be taken. Surround the containers with sawdust, straw, or cover them with plastic much the way you would protect tomatoes from a late spring freeze. Or, before Winter sets in, remove the bulbs from the container or place it in an area that will protect the bulb from freezing, such as a root cellar or garage. Bulbs should not get below freezing.
Lilies do not require a lot of daily watering. When watering is needed, be sure to water deeply enough to reach the bulb. If possible, avoid excessive over the top watering of the leaves, blooms, and flowers. This may cause your bulb to rot, promote many leaf and bloom problems, and the flowers will not last as long in the landscape or garden.
The best fertilizer to use is our custom blended Power Grow Spring and Fall Lily Bulb Food 80% Slow Release with 21% secondary nutrients blends. Through years of testing, they have been proven to really be the best for lily bulbs, day lily plants, and any other flowering plants. They are custom made and sold through our on line store.
Fall: Do not over fertilize bulbs especially with a high nitrogen base unless there is a minimum of 80% slow release nitrogen (the first number in the mix: 0-0-0). If using a different mix without slow release, use a high mineral content (the last two numbers in the mix: 0-0-0) and a nitrogen level below 10% instead and make sure there is an iron level below 5%. Too much nitrogen or iron at once when mixing with the bulb at the time of planting will burn the bulb and promote diseases, especially rot. The high mineral count will promote good root and bulb growth, bloom color and count, and a much stronger, healthier plant. The fertilizer can be applied before covering the bulb being careful not to use more than two tablespoons, again about two weeks before flowering, and after blooming is completed to keep bulbs healthy. Do not fertilize too late in the fall as bulbs can become too soft and rot.
Spring: Do not over fertilize bulbs especially with a high nitrogen base unless there is a minimum of 80% slow release with the nitrogen (the first number in the mix 0-0-0). If using a different mix without slow release, use a high mineral content and a level below 10 of the nitrogen count (the next two numbers in the mix 0-0-0) instead and make sure there is an iron level below 5%. Too much nitrogen or iron at once when mixing with the bulb at time of planting will promote diseases and especially rot. The high mineral count will promote good root and bulb growth, bloom color and count, and a much stronger, healthier plant. Apply the fertilizer before covering the bulb being careful not to use more than a tablespoon. Once the stem has emerged and is about four inches in height, apply evenly two tablespoons of our four month Power Grow Lily Spring Flower Food mix around the base of the stem. For more than one bulb or stem, use one/half cup applied evenly around the group of stems. After blooming is completed and during the fall, apply our “Power Grow Fall Bulb & Flower Food mix evenly at the rates listed above.
LABELS ATTACHED TO PLASTIC MARKER TAGS ARE FOUND INSIDE THE SHIPPING BOX PLACED IN THE BAG THEY ARE SHIPPED IN. It is also wise to mark each bulb planted with a stake and a weather resistant marker, so as not to damage the lily shoots in the spring when working around your bulbs.
Once the bulb has emerged and is forming its’ flower buds, you may need to support each stem (especially the taller verities). Be careful not to puncture the bulb while placing its’ support. Also, look for aphids growing on the flowering bud and stem…they will usually appear just before the bud swells prior to opening. Treat with an insecticidal soap or mineral oil in the cool of the day (mornings are best).
Do not remove or cutback the spent stalks until complete die back has occurred in the fall or it could weaken the bulb. Fall is the best time to divide your clump of lilies and can be done every 4-5 years. Use a spading fork and carefully lift the bulbs from underneath, being careful not to damage the bulbs. Separate the larger bulbs and replant (see planting instructions above) as soon as possible into freshly amended soil. Plant the smaller bulblits 2 inches deep in small containers (protected from extreme cold weather) until they are large enough (14-18 cm) to plant outdoors.
When cutting a stem, leave at least one third of the stalk to feed the bulb so it can mature properly for the following year. Before you cut, grab the stem just above your cut with the other hand, cut the stem. While holding the stem and flower away from you and facing the flower towards the ground, you can cut the antlers off but leave the style and stigma on (it’s the part of the flower that provides the fragrance). This will prevent pollen stains (see below) and help the flower last longer. The best time to cut is early in the morning. Place in warm water and enjoy their beauty and fragrance!
To prevent staining, the pollen should be removed from the anthers of cut flowers (see instructions above). If staining occurs, brush access pollen off lightly and treat the stain with any stain remover or dish detergent. Launder as usual.