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Lily Catalogue Browsing

By: Doreen Sage


Your new lily catalogue has arrived and you are busy reading it. You see (1c) or (1a) in the description. Theses are important to you as you make your selections.

  The world of lilies has been very carefully put into categories so that everyone can read the description of a lily and understand what it should look like when growing and in bloom.

  Each catalogue carries a preface explaining how that particular catalogue lists the lilies they sell

  It is most helpful in making your selections if you read this information. Even if you want that color, if the bloom faces down or grows six feet tall and these are not the characteristics you want, you must search further.

  The time the lily blooms is important as well as with carefully selecting your bulbs, you can have blooms over a long period of time. Catalogues indicate time as Early , meaning June as (E); late June and July (M); late July August (L).

  The vast majority of bulbs available are known as Asiatic Hybrids and are very hardy for all of Manitoba and the Prairies. They fall into Division I. They are further classified by the position of the bloom. The letter (a) indicates that the bloom faces up, the letter (b) indicates that the blooms out-facing and the letter (c) indicates that the bloom faces down. When you see (1a) in the description of a lily, you are being told that it is an Asiatic Hybrid with blooms that face up.

  There are other divisions that are also hardy on the Prairies.

  Division II: Martagons — dainty, mostly downfacing with as many as 50 blooms per stem. They do not need the digging and dividing of the Asiatics. It usually takes seven years from seed to blooming bulbs but modern technology has shortened the time to four years.

  Division VI: Trumpet/Aurelians — These are usually fragrant and need added winter protection.

  Division VII: Orientals — Blooms are large in size and usually perfumed. These will grow on the Prairies but appreciate heavier winter protection.

  Division VIII: L.A. Hybrids (Longiflorum/Asiatics), Orientpets (Oriental/Trumpet) crosses and Aurelian/Asiatic crosses. These have enormous flowers and some do have a slight perfume.

  Division IX: Species — Since these grow naturally world wide, those that thrive in our climate will also grow in our gardens. This Division includes our own wild “Tiger Lily”.

  Your catalogue description will give you the growth habit of each lily. The height that the plant will grow is important when planning your planting.

  Aside from the direction that the bloom faces, colour is probably the most important characteristics of any bloom. Although lilies are classified by many colours, there are standard basic colours used when describing bloom colour. The placement of the colour is also indicated by tips, throat, etc.

  Tetraploids are an improves Asiatic in that they have amazing strength and substance.

  The seed catalogues are now carrying many lily bulbs for Spring planting. Only some lilies do well planted in the Spring and these Spring plantings are listed. All do well if planted in the Fall. Catalogues do not always carry the same detailed descriptions, so compare.

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