How to Cure and Prevent Common Issues With Lilies

Tiger Lily Infected With Virus


Some lily plant problems – oriental lily problems occur during its’ life span.  There are many factors determining common issues with lilies.  Moreover, one of the most common questions or comments is:  “My Stargazer Oriental lily plant is not producing flowers like it used to.  In addition, it did not even emerge this year. What’s happening?”

Most lily bulbs are very easy to grow and take very little care. However, some instances need investigation.  Especially oriental lily plant problems.  As a result, finding out what if anything, went wrong. It’s difficult to say just what happened without seeing the bulb before planting.  And afterwards.

In addition, there are many factors that created the bulb not to produce.  First: planted too shallow.  Second: a virus or disease.  Third: too wet of soil, etc.  So, let’s start at the beginning.  And look at the more common issues with lily plant problems and oriental lily problems..

I am not going to bore you with scientific explanations of each disease.  However, will give you a summary explanation of each disease.  And, focusing  on control or preventative things you can do.  Helping your bulbs thrive for years.  Please keep in mind:  like all living things, lily bulbs will eventually succumb to age. Therefore, eventually expiring.  Just when this happens is anyone’s guess.

Most Common Lilies – Summary

Oriental Lilies

Probably the most temperamental to grow.  As well as preventing oriental lily problems.  Take a little extra care and thought before you plant them. Therefore, preventing oriental lily problems.  However, they are well worth the extra effort.  Oriental lilies are extremely fragrant and produce large, showy flowers.  And if not cared for and planted properly, they succumb to many environmental.  And disease problems, especially rot.

Asian-Tiger Lilies

Easiest to grow of all lilies in the lilium family. Hardy, will adapt to just about any soil. In addition, not as fragrant or very little fragrance.

Orienpet Lilies

Somewhat temperamental.  But easy to grow. Take little care but need staking. Also, can get quite tall. Prolific, large blooms. Very fragrant.

Trumpet Lilies

Somewhat temperamental but easy to grow. They will require staking.  Their blooms are extremely large. And heavy stalks, blooms.  Extremely fragrant.

Preventing Lily Problems: Environment

Where to Plant

Where to plant is more important than when to plant. Coupled with, drainage, soil texture, air circulation, light, water, food, soil and its’ ph.  Plant ph, too.  All influencing the health of your lily plants. Gardeners who strive to understand the requirements of each particular plant, eliminate those factors which affect the plants in a negative way.  Additionally, increase positive actions for healthier plants.

Lily Bulb Planted at the Correct Depth
Lily Plant Problems: Planting at the correct Depth

Shade or Sun

Take a little extra time in choosing your location.  And get to know your soil.  Orienpets and Orientals do much better where there is morning sun and afternoon shade. Consequently, even in the shade, temperatures can reach well over 90 degrees.  Equally important, as long as they are not exposed to direct sunlight, will be ok.  As a matter of fact, direct hot sun will scorch or burn both leaves and blooms.  Consequently, the flower wilts and spends its’ beautiful appearance.  Making additional lily plant problems, as well as oriental lily problems. 

Preventing Lily Plant Problems:

Garden/Landscape Soil

Outdoor soil should be healthy and well drained.  Equally important, always place a minimum of 1 quart or more of rich potting soil in the hole during planting.  This revitalizes micro organisms.

Potting Mix

Raised beds, large and small containers (pots,too) should all have well drained potting mix.  40% pumus is ideal for good drainage and aeration.  And, good drainage hole in containers.  Likewise, for best results, use our Power Grow Potting Mix.  Do not use garden soil in raised beds or containers.   Not only causes lily plant problems and oriental lily problems, but other situations detrimental to other plants, too.

Power Grow Potting Mix
Power Grow Soil Amendment and Potting Mix

Preventing Lily Plant Problems: Fertilizing

During Planting

Healthy, well nourished plants prevent a large number of lily problems.  Place a tablespoon of our Power Grow Fall Lily Bulb Blend near the bulb when planting.  Likewise, be sure not to place the lily bulb in an area you will be watering often.  Lilies only need watering when the stem has emerged.  Also, are growing to form its’ flower buds.

After Planting

In addition, after covering the hole, sprinkle our Spring Lily Bulb Fertilizer at ground level.  And mark each bulb placement, preventing other lily plant problems, as well as oriental lily problems.

Power Grow All Season Bulb Food:
Apply our Power Grow Blend After Covering and Each Fall.

Repeat Fertilizing

Without removing the bulb, you should repeat this process every year. Make sure the lily bulb is not placed in water saturated soil, and well nourished. As a result, producing its’ full bloom color and healthy stem.

Above ground feeding:  Each Fall and Spring, feed bulbs with Our Power Grow Lily Bulb blends.  Together with, place a couple of handfuls of rich potting soil around the stems.  Equally important, use our Power Grow Potting Mix.  Preventing more lily plant problems or oriental lily problems.

Lily Plant Problems: Viruses, Diseases

Most importantly, with regards to disease resistance, soil and overall plant health means healthy plants.  Lily bulbs love acidic soil, similarly preventing lily plant problems or oriental lily problems.  And should be at the 6.2 to 6.5 level to prevent lily problems.  Likewise, test every year.  And adjust, if needed.

Like all living things, a healthy vigorous plant is much more resistant to disease or insects.  As a matter of fact, lily plants under stress are extremely susceptible to both.

There are plenty of DIY soil testers that can be purchased at garden centers.  Or ordered on line.  However, we have tried them all.  And Rapitest is the quickest, inexpensive, most accurate method we have found.  Preventing oriental lily problems.

Inexpensive yet effective soil ph tester. It's What we use.

Common Diseases

The most common diseases are Botrytis, powdery mildew, stem and bulb rot.  All diseases occur as a direct result from environmental conditions.   Or, the bulbs were infected at the nursery purchased from.  However, in most cases it’s an environmental issue.  Let’s take a closer look at the causes.  And some corrective actions…


Viruses are very simple organisms.  And are nothing more than RNA contained within a protein shell. Also, are so small they can only be see seen with the aid of an electron microscope.

Viruses invade a cell by injecting its own RNA into the cell, hijack the cells’ DNA.  Then, replace it with the Virus RNA several times. The new viruses grow in the plant cells and mature. Moreover, once mature they burst open from the infected cell.  Then move to infect other cells.  Starting the process all over again.

Consequently, when this happens the normal plant cell functions are disrupted.  Also with symptoms showing up on the exterior of the plant surfaces.  In addition, streaking or molting, twisted growth, reduced plant size.  And or rings on the bulbs.  Making oriental lily problems.

Tiger lilies, as well as some Oriental cultivars, are more susceptible to viruses.  Others can tolerate them quite well with little or no symptoms.

Tiger Lily Infected With Virus
Tiger Lily Virus
Oriental lily distorted from virus

How Viruses are Transmitted

The most common viruses found in lilies, making lily plant problems and oriental lily problems, are often transmitted by aphids.  Consequently, biting into the infected plant and ingest the virus.  Further, landing on a non infected plant, passing the virus to it after biting into it. For example, Lily Symptomless Virus or LVS (the most common), Tulip Breaking Virus or TBV.  And, Cucumber Mosaic Virus or CMV.

Control of Viruses

Viruses are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to control with commercial spray treatments. However, there are a few steps taken to help prevent further infections.

Steps for Control of Viruses

1.)  Dig out and destroy the entire plant preferably by burning.

2.)  Disinfect your tools immediately, soaking or dipping in 100% bleach.

3.)  The most important method of controlling viruses is to have good gardening practices.  And observe your lilies regularly.  Be aware that some nutrient deficiencies cause streaking (resembling a virus infection) in leaves and flowers.

The continuing hybridization of viral resistant cultivars will greatly help controlling viruses.  Therefore, preventing oriental lily problems.  Check with whomever you are purchasing from for susceptibility of any lily cultivar.

Lily Plant Problems: Fungal Diseases

Fungi are organisms that live in or on plant tissues, creating lily plant problems.  And thrive on a host plant or in the soil on decaying leaves or wood.  They are closely related to mushrooms.  But, do not necessarily grow the fruiting bodies.  Also, known as mushrooms. Equally, fungi take their nutrients from the plant.  Destroying the host material.

Moreover, the two most common and recognizable diseases causing the most lily plant problems are Basal Rot.  And Botrytis blight.

Basal Rot is more destructive to the entire plant.  As a result, it attacks not only the stem but the bulb, also.  Botrytis attacks the leaves, stem, and flowers as it weakens the entire plant over time.  And can kill the lily.

Botrytis Elliptica on Oriental Lily
Oriental Lily Problems: Botrytis disease showing on lily leaves.
Basal Rot
Basal Rot in Asian Lily

Fungal Diseases

Most fungal diseases can be corrected and prevented with commercial sprays.  Additionally, if detected in time.  However, some cannot.  After several treatments the disease comes back, it’s best to destroy the plant.  And start again with a new, healthy one.  Preventing even more lily plant problems.  As well as, oriental lily problems.

Basal Rot: AKA Fusarium

Basal rot is caused by two different fungi. Fusarium oxysporum va lilii and Cylindrocarpon.Fusarium. Fusarium oxysporum has a tendency to attack Asiatics. Cylindrocarpon attacks Orientals and Orienpets. Of the two, Fusarium oxysporum is the most serious. Above all, it can exist in the soil for years without a host.  Also, easily recognized by a dark brown rot.  Equally, extending into the bulb scales from the basal plate. The scales might fall apart as they become unattached from the mother bulb.

The pathogen enters the plant from the roots.  Then moves into the basal plate.  And into the scales. It reproduces by spores.   Which are carried in the soil by decaying wood, previously infected plant tissue, garden or agricultural tools, packing material, bulbs.  And even potting soil.  Creating more lily plant problems or oriental lily problems.


Basal Rot symptoms are premature yellowing of foliage, stunting.  And drying of the stalk.  Or no root growth.

By the same token, basal rot will usually destroy the mother bulb.  Any bulb-lets that have formed from the basal plate are infected.  However, in efforts to survive, the plant may grow large numbers of stem bulb-lets, likewise located just below ground level on the main stem.  Therefore, believing it has solved its’ lily plant problems.  They are sometimes not infected. So, these can be dug up and planted in another location, continuing the cultivar.  Do not replant anything in the same spot.  Also, clean your garden tools and equipment before you plant the new bulb-lets elsewhere.

Lily Bulbs Early Stage of Root & Basal Rot
Lily bulb showing signs of root rot after 1 month growing

Fusarium is most active where soil temperature and moisture level is high.  Also, where soil temps are lower, it’s not a problem.  Additionally, growing lily bulbs in containers outside then moving them indoors during the colder periods creates lily plant problems or oriental lily problems. Consequently, when indoors during colder period does not kill the disease.

Controlling Basal Rot/Fusarium

 Once basal rot/fusarium infects a plant, it cannot be corrected or controlled.  It’s useless to try and save it.  ALL of the infected bulbs must be removed and destroyed. However, there are some preventative sprays, bulb dips sometimes helping to prevent this disease.

Plant only healthy, non-infected bulbs.  And completely get rid of ANY bulbs, scales, and bulb-lets showing signs of the disease.

The best defense is a good offense.  And is true in controlling infections from occurring.  Again, THE BEST OFFENSE IS PREVENTION!

Exposed Lily Flowering Bulb
Plant only Healthy Bulbs.

Non Chemical Tips to Prevent: Fusarium

1.) Avoid fertilizers high in Nitrogen. High Nitrates will cause rapid soft growth of the bulb.  Organic fertilizers, such as manures and composts, must be aged two to three years.  And used ONLY as a top dressing.  As well as, placed no more than an inch below the surface.  Well rotted manures and compost keeps the soil cool and help control Fusarium.  Uniquely, needing warm moist soils to propagate.  Making more lily plant problems and oriental lily problems.

2.) Control soil moisture.  Equally important when planting your bulbs in commercial potting mix.  In most cases, commercial potting mix contains a wetting agent which keeps the mix moist.  Even in dry conditions.

3.) Lilies do not require a lot of moisture to thrive, preventing lily plant problems, as well as oriental lily problems.  Avoid over watering during the months of hot temperatures.  Place them in afternoon shade, instead.  Planting in a landscape area, make sure the soil is well drained and light in texture.  Light, well drained soils are better than heavy soils.  Therefore, reducing the moisture that Fusarium needs to survive.

4.) Fusarium likes too much acidic soils (below 6.0ph). Test your soil ph.  If it’s too low, then adding some lime each year with fertilizer, will increase the pH.  Changing to a more neutral or alkaline level in some soils.

5.) Avoid damaging the bulbs during planting, transplanting, and weeding.  Any lesions, including scales that have been removed, will be an entrance for the fungi.

6.) If possible, try to purchase resistant varieties.

Lily Problems: Drip Irrigation is the preferred method for growing lilies.
Oriental Early Stages of Fusarium
Calla infected with Fusarium
Lily Problems: Calla Lily infected with Fusarium.

Common Lily Diseases: Botrytis

Botrytis is caused by two species of fungi, causing serious lily plant problems.   B.elliptica and B.cinerea.   Most importantly, attacking above ground plant parts, causing lily plant problems or oriental lily problems.  B.elliptica is the more destructive of the two.  Also, both fungi can be found on the same plant at the same time.  B.cinerea attacks the leaves, open flowers, and seed pods in cool summer weather.  And late fall. Not to mention, warm, moist coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest or western coast regions of Britain are often called “Botrytis Climates”.  Dry, cooler climates are rarely affected.  Therefore, preventing lily plant problems from this disease.  As well as oriental lily problems.

Botrytis on Lilies
Botrytis on Oriental Lilies

The fungus over winters’ on the leaves of the previous year. Consequently, producing spores during summer months.  Spreading by wind or splashing water.  The first sign of Botrytis are white spots on the leaves.  Also, becoming teardrop shaped on the upper surface.  They are lighter in color on the margins and darker in the center.  Uniquely, the attack starts then continues as the leaf collapses.  And decays. Consequently, the fungus produces more spores on the decaying leaf.   Creating lily plant problems and oriental lily problems.

Control of Botrytis

Botrytis only attacks the surface of the plant leaves, stems, and flowers.   Equally, spreading to other surfaces or neighboring plants as more spores develop.  Moisture is essential to the spread the fungi. Therefore, careful watering practices should be followed.  Use soaker hoses or drip line method rather than over the head watering.  Preventing additional lily plant problems.  In addition to, oriental lily problems. 

Fungicidal Sprays

Commercial fungicides that can prevent and control this disease from making lily plant problems or oriental lily problems. Be careful when using these products.  Natural or man made, commercial or non-commercial.  Treat well before infection occurs.  Likewise, at the 6 inch stem size.  Be sure to treat the underside, as well as, top sides of all leaves.  Treat during the cool of the day.  Equally, early mornings are best, preventing more lily plant problems or oriental lily problems.

  • Always follow label directions.
Lily Problems: Spraying underside of lily leaves.
Spray underside of leaves.

Preventing lily plant problems, as well as oriental lily problems, from Botrytis, good air circulation is important.  As a matter of fact, drying the leaves after watering or rain occurs can prevent this disease. Most importantly, try not get the leaves or the flowers wet, making lily plant problems.  Look for infected leaves.  Then, remove them asap even while still wet. This stops or prohibits the spread of the fungi, making more lily plant problems and oriental lily problems.  Again, warm dry sunny weather aids in controlling the fungi.

Control of Root Rot

Root rot is not a disease but is directly associated with poor drainage.  Subsequently, a bulb or any other plant placed where there is little or no drainage will rot.  Lack of good soil aeration and planting in thick, heavy fine textured soils like clay, creates more lily plant problems and oriental lily problems.  Therefore, detrimental to lily bulbs.  So, to prevent this or other lily plant problems, plant in light airy soils draining water quickly.  Therefore, roots and the bulb do not sit in water for long periods of time.  Also, roots need oxygen.  And being in water provides little or no oxygen.

Power Grow Potting Mix
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