How to Grow Lilies Indoors
Lilies can be grown indoors! They are more difficult than say tulips or daffodils, but it can be done! The reason you see lily flowers being sold during the winter months at florist shops, and grocery store flower arrangements is because they are “forced” to grow indoors. Granted, they are grown commercially and in huge greenhouses under a controlled environment and lighting, but you can do the same thing too and without breaking the bank!
By growing lily flower bulbs indoors, you get to enjoy the feeling of summertime during the dull, cold winter months. Then, when the weather is warmer outdoors, the bulbs can be transplanted to a garden or even remain indoors for blooming. They will take a little extra care…by using a few extra growing techniques you may or may not be familiar with, and with the proper care and attention, lilies can be grown indoors (and just about all flower bulbs for that matter).
Lily plants are good to grow indoors their first season, but they should be planted outside after the threat of freezing temperatures has passed. For the best results, it’s easier to buy new bulbs each year instead of trying to use last year’s bulbs to bloom indoors. However, last year’s bulbs can be used.
Starting with a new or purchased bulb that has been properly prepared for forcing (cooled), if you apply some basic growing and forcing techniques, you can get them grow and bloom indoors. Here’s how: Asiatics and Orientals are the easiest ones to try. The orienpets, trumpets, and tiger lilies are the most difficult. I prefer the smaller bulbs (8 to 10 cm) because they do not need to be planted in a large container thus taking up a lot of space.
If purchasing from a commercial grower and you want to grow them indoors, make sure you have bought bulbs that have been prepared for forcing indoors or you can do it yourself. It’s hard to say when to start because it depends upon the variety and cultivar you are trying to grow indoors and when you want them to bloom. Usually it takes ten to twelve weeks for cooling or giving them a dormancy period and another ninety days growing indoors to bloom. So, plan well in advance.
Blooming Lilies in Time for Mother’s day
Normally for blooming around Mother’s Day, you will want to start the process about the first of October or November. Place the bulb in a plastic freezer bag with a zip lock top and some new potting mix. Leave the top open for ventilation. Place in your refridgerator in an upright position, keeping it at 35 to 45 degrees, make sure it doesn’t freeze. Leave it for about twelve weeks (I like to use the vegetable or fresh fruit section, (refridgerators nowadays usually have better air circulation in these sections so the veggies will last longer). This will “cool” the bulb down keeping it in a dormant state of mind, except the roots. Keep checking the bulb from time to time, making sure it’s not too wet or dry. If it should dry out, immediately put enough water in so it’s damp, not wet. You will notice the roots will grow a lot during this time. That’s good! It’s better to plant any bulb knowing it has a good, healthy, live root system and this is a good way of knowing. Lilies never stop growing, they are always active in one form or another. Unless you see the top starting to sprout, LEAVE IT IN TACT AND DO NOT REMOVE IT thinking that it’s starting to grow.
Plant your bulb into a suitable container after about eight weeks of cooling. The container should be large and deep enough without impeding root growth. Remember, the lily bulb will remain in the container you chose for several months. Plant them in a container with potting soil about three inches deep and at least a six inch deep container (the deeper the container, the better). You will need to place the planted container bulb where there is plenty of light and above fifty degrees.
Placing the Planted Container
Usually in an indoor location, such as a house, there is adequate room temperature for the lilies to thrive. The problem is light. Place the planted lily container in an area where they will receive full sunlight during daylight hours, or use an adjustable florescent light with a stand (you’ll want to be able to adjust the light to accommodate the change in growth of your lily plant, this is best). Keep it in light as much as possible or under your “grow light” turned on during normal daylight hours and for a couple of hours afterwards. If you have a garage or shop with flourescent lights, this is ideal as long as the temperature stays around fifty degrees or more.