THE NOVICE’S NICHE
Planting Your New Lilies!
By: Nigel B. Strohman
Now that Fall is approaching as well as the MRLS Fall bulb sale. The lilies that
you will pick up or order will need to be tended to right away. Lily bulbs are
never completely dormant like tulips or daffodils. These are fresh and ready to
go, so they must be planted as soon as possible.
If for some reason you are unable to plant your bulbs immediately, then keep
them refrigerated until you can plant them. Store them in a poly bag in slightly
damp peat moss in the crisper of the fridge. There is only a short time before
ground freeze up. The more growing and becoming established the bulb will do
before freeze up, the better it will be able to withstand the rigors of a long,
It is important to choose the right location. Lilies require direct sunlight for
part to all of the day. They also require "Well Drained Soil". A medium sandy
loam soil with a reasonable amount of humus is ideal. Peat moss can also be
added. Heavy soils can be lightened with course sand and peat moss. If using
manure make sure it is well rotted and use as top dress only, otherwise it can
cause damage to the bulbs by lowering their disease resistance.
Most lilies should be planted to a depth of 6” and 12-16”apart. Trumpets and
orientals should be planted to a depth of 8” for extra winter protection. Place
your lily bulb with its roots down and scale points up. A little bone meal may
be added at this time. Cover with your soil mixture. Pack the soil in well
around your bulb. Lilies make a nice show if they are planted in triangular
groups of 3 per variety.
It is important to thoroughly water your bulbs in after planting, so the soil
settles around the bulb to prevent any air pockets.
It is 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 lily bulbs.
These lilies are hardy to zone 2 and very easy to grow. They come in all shades
and color combinations. These hybrids multiply rapidly and bloom over a long
season. The flowers can be up-facing, side-facing or down-facing, vary in height
and flower mid season.
These dainty flowered ones are fast becoming popular, with as many a 50 flowers
on tall erect stems with whorled leaves. These lilies often take a year to
settle in and are known to sulk the first growing season, sometimes not showing
any presence until the next growing season. Once established in the border or
garden they can be left alone for many years. They are the only lilies that
prefer dappled shade.
Orientals, Trumpet and Aurelians:
These varieties are the most exotic and showy of all lilies. These varieties
multiply more slowly. They can be grown on the prairies but it takes a little
more effort on your part of amending the soil and providing heavier winter
protection of straw, leaves and peat moss. Spring planting of these groups
allows them to settle in and are more apt to make it through the winter.
Protecting them from the first frosts, by covering them with a cardboard box
will allow the bulbs to mature more fully for the following year. These large
beautiful scented flowers that bloom late summer will be well worth the extra
Orienpet - Longipet - L.O. Hybrids:
These lilies are breakthroughs in the lily hybridzing world giving improved
hybrid vigor and large showy flower. They are proving more hardy then their
parents, the orientals, trumpets and longiflorums. However these should be mulch
after planting to aid in over wintering.
Species lilies require specialized care due to their different natural growing
conditions through-out the world. Anyone endeavoring to grow these varieties
needs to research their growing requirements. Species bulbs for the most part
are smaller than hybrid varieties, but will produce good quality stems and
blooms. Their delicate, beautiful flowers will be well worth the effort