THE NOVICE’S NICHE
Spring Planting Lilies
By: Doreen Sage
Most stores that handle gardening supplies will soon be stocking shelves with bulbs for spring planting. Not all bulbs can be planted in the spring, as many need a cold period before they grow.
Asiatic lilies are a good example. All will grow well if properly cared for and planted in the fall. Only some do well if planted in the spring. Reputable catalogues indicate this in their listings and you should not find any fall planting only in stores.
However, at this time of the year, most gardening sections have an extensive selection of lily bulbs for spring planting.
These could include such exotic names as Lilium Oriental hybrids Stargazer (pink /white edges), Muscadet (ruffled white with many pink spots), Con Amore (pink/pink spots). These blooms will be huge, often 10 inches across. They also can be packaged in 10 to a package. Share with a friend. Try some others.
If you have a large container or deep pots, these bulbs can be planted immediately and will give you early flowers in the house/greenhouse. If you want to wait, these bulbs can be stored in the refrigerator until you want to plant them outside. This will only work if the bulbs have not been out of storage very long. If the dormancy is broken and they have started to grow, you will have to pot them up. Placing the pot in your cold room or the coolest place in your house can still slow them down. Watch carefully, as they must not dry out or be to wet and if the leaves do come up, then pot must be placed in a south window or under a grow light. Hopefully, they will not do this and you can put the pot directly outside.
You may think that this sounds like extra work but the results are worth it. The many blooms will be large and usually fragrant. An early start in a pot means you have earlier flowers. If planted into the ground, frost could get the last buds, as these are later bloomers.
If planting in the ground, make certain you follow good lily planting procedures. These Orientals could over winter in the ground if given some winter protection and/or good snow cover that stays there. Make certain these bulbs do not have spring run off sitting in and around the planting area. Bulbs could rot. Once up, they like good light and moisture. Morning sun is best.
Even these can be subject to disease. If botrytis strikes, take your disinfected scissors and cut off each infected leaf. Disinfect scissors between each cut. This will usually control the disease. Make certain all cuttings are gathered and destroyed. Water carefully so the soil does not splash up onto the stem and leaves, as this is one way the disease spreads.
If bulbs are planted in a container, they might grow again next year, so follow a good fertilizing program and give them the best chance possible. If planted in the ground, fertilize as you would for other lilies and give your bulbs a good growing season. They could just give you an even better show next year. Do mark where you plant these bulbs as they do not necessarily come up early and you do not want to damage the emerging top by digging in the wrong place.