PLANTING AND CARE OF LILY BULBS
By: Doreen Sage
Lily bulbs are never completely dormant, so they must be planted as soon as possible after purchase (or if received as a gift). If you cant plant, store the bulbs in a poly bag in slightly damp peat moss in the fridge crisper.
· Location: Since lilies often remain in the same site for years, choosing and preparing the site is of utmost importance. Lilies Require direct sunlight for part to all of the day, although they will still thrive in filtered sunlight to moderate shade for part of the day. Good morning sun is preferred as it helps dry the dew off the foliage , reducing the occurrence of botrytis.
· Soil: Must be well drained. A medium sandy loan with a reasonable amount of humus (compost) is a idea. Peat moss can also be added. Heavy soils can be light with course sand & peat moss.
· Planting: If planting a single lily bulb, dig a hole about one foot square & one foot deep. To the soil you have removed from the hole, add compost, peat moss, well-rotten leaf molds &/or black peat (peat soil). Make a mixture of about 1/3 additions to 2/3 soil. Do not use new or unrotten manure to the lily bed. Refill about 1/3 to 1/2 of the hole with your prepared soil mixture. Place the lily bulb in the centre of your prepared hole with its roots down & scale points up. Cover with your soil mixture. Pack the soil in well around your bulb but not to tightly as to restrict its root growth. If you are planting a grouping of lilies, make your hole wide enough to accommodate all the lilies at once. There should be a minimum of 12 inches between each bulb. Lilies make a nice show if they are planted in triangular groups of three bulbs pH the same Variety, spaced 12 to 18 apart & to a depth of 4 to 6.
· Watering: It is important to thoroughly water your bulbs in after planting to ensure the soil settles in around the roots. They do not require daily watering, but when watering, be sure to water deeply enough to reach the bulb. Avoid wetting the leaves. Excessive watering will cause your bulb to rot. Lilies must be in a site free of standing water especially in the spring. If you have low garden or drainage problems, raised beds are one solution.
· Fertilizing: A 20-20-20 can be applied just before flowering & after blooming is completed to keep bulbs healthy. Newly planted bulbs should not be fertilized. Use a slow release & apply late enough in the season that it will be there & ready to work in the spring. Otherwise 16-20-0 is good fertilizer for most Prairie Region soil types.
· Labeling: Mark each bulb planted with a stake ( wood or plastic) and a permanent marker. Do this as bulb are planted. This will remain you to be careful in the spring when digging as you do not want to damage new growth which might still be below the soil surface. It is also a good idea to keep track of the names of the bulbs you have planted with a name on a marker.
· Fall Care: Your spring planted bulb grew well & the foliage must not be cut back until it dies down or freezes. Some growers leave stalks to spring as they help hold the snow cover. However, if you have had disease showing, cut off at ground level & dispose of. The fall is the best time to divide existing clumps of lilies. This will probably have to be done about every 4 or 5 years, depending on how bulbs have multiplied. ** Keep a written record of what you have for bulbs.