Common Name: Lilium or Lilies
Botanical Name: Lilium spp
Family Name: Liliaceae
Plant type: Fleshy bulb
Size: 70 cm to 180cm depending on variety.
Planting time: Winter to spring
Planting width: 20–40cm apart. In the garden Liliums look best when planted in clumps.
Planting depth: 10–20cm
Positioning: Full sun to part shade. Oriental lilies prefer a cooler, more sheltered position and may require staking and protection from hot sun and hot winds. All taller Lily varieties may need staking to support the stems, particularly in open areas where there is less protection from wind.
General information: There are many varieties of lilies including Oriental, Asiatic, and Longiflorum, LA Hybrids, OT Hybrids . All have long lasting flowers.
Soil: Liliums like moist soil but do not like wet feet, so the soil needs to be open and well drained. Drainage can be improved by planting on a slight slope, raising beds or planting in raised mounds of soil. Also a covering of compost type material on the top after planting is a great benefit. Soil mix for the enthusiast – 2 parts sandy loam, 2 parts peat and 1 part sand.
If growing in pots use a potting mix specifically for bulbs.
Double Tiger Lily Lilium lancifolium requires the same conditions as other Liliums except this one grows to a height of 1.5 m and is a little less fussy about soil type.
Watering: Responds well to generous watering in summer.
Fertilising: Ideally lilies should be fertilised at least twice during their growing cycle. At the time of planting prepare the soil with well-rotted animal manure or a complete fertiliser with NPK in it will suffice, but blood and bone types will also grow good lilies. Feed at planting by placing on top of the soil and watering in. Mulch well to keep soil cool and moist. Liquid fertilising once plants are setting buds (small buds appear in the apex of the leaves), this is beneficial to keep lower foliage green. Importantly, fertilise the bulbs again after they have finished flowering. This will provide the bulbs with the energy to repeat flower again the following year. In subsequent years, top dress with fertiliser in late winter.
Pruning: It is best to remove old flower heads once flowers fade to promote bulb growth. Cut down to ground level once foliage has died off completely but not before. By removing the stems any earlier you are in effect starving the bulb of all the energy it needs to flower again the following year. Bulbs can be left in the ground to naturalise or lifted and separated. Replant without delay. Dislikes being moved, wet feet.
Pests: Generally pest resistant though aphids may be a problem but easily dealt with.
Uses: Ideal for pots, excellent cut flowers and can provide colour towards back of garden beds.
General care: Lilies are available for purchase in winter and early spring and are generally packed in a moist organic mix to keep the bulbs moist. Plant immediately after delivery and do not allow the bulbs to dry out. This is very important as lilies do not have a dormant cycle like many other bulbs.
Lilies can be left in the ground for several years without having to transplant them, but if you are planning to dig and replant your bulbs this should be done in autumn. Lilies need to be kept moist during their growing cycle and one way of conserving water is by mulching. This will keep the soil cool and moist whilst also minimising the growth of weeds in your garden.
If growing in pots, make sure the pot is 200 mm minimum. Place no more than 3 bulbs per pot, and make sure the bulbs are leaning slightly inwards to encourage plants to support each other. Grow outside in a sunny aspect and pots can be brought inside once flowering. After flowering, or when picking for cut flowers, cut the plant to about half way down the stem leaving enough leaves to enable the plant to develop the bulb for next year’s flowers.
GROWING LILIUMS IN POTS
Pot size: Minimum 200mm is preferred up to whatever size people are comfortable with. Deep pots are best so that bulbs can be planted as deeply as possible to better support the tall stems.
Planting: In general bulbs should be planted around 75mm apart in pots, so a minimum of 3 in a 200mm pot and then whatever depending on pot size. Lilies are a real companion plant and rely on growing in clusters to grow properly. Point crown of bulb upwards and leaning slightly towards the outside of the pot, definitely not the inside as they need head space for flowers to develop! Insert a stake in the centre of the pot when planting to use to support stems as they get tall.
Pot care: Grow them outside in a sunny aspect, they are an attractive plant during growth, so they don't need to be hidden until flowering time. Once in flower they can be brought inside or placed on patio or balcony etc. When flowering is finished, top up fertiliser and place the pots in the garden to be watered with everything else while they die down. Bring the pots out again in early winter, top dress with fertiliser, water it in well and watch them grow again.