What should you be planting now? month by month advice
Lilies for 2018
Lily bulbs are best planted in the spring. If you are moving or dividing bulbs in your own garden this can be done in late autumn once the foliage has started to turn yellow. Whilst the plant is still green photosynthesis is still occurring and the roots are still feeding. Think of the green parts as the food factory building up next year's bulb.
New lily bulbs are best planted in the spring, with the notable exception of martagon and candidum lilies whilst the bulbs are still fresh, full of nutrients and disease free.
Commercial growers do have facilities for storing last years harvest until the autumn but early planting in keeps within the bulbs natural cycle ensuring the best flowering results. Lilies will always be at their best once established, take advantage of this growing season, there is no benefit in delay (except perhaps for your back!).
Lilies make outstanding versatile garden plants and will add beauty, colour and fragrance to your garden for years to come. They are relatively easy to grow provided a few basic rules, both for borders and containers, are followed. Some of the best lily gardens I have seen have been entirely container grown. In my own garden, which pretends to be a woodland garden (I don’t own a wood), all lilies are in pots camouflaged in the border, except for one area that has taken a lot of work to grow some of the species.
The most important factor is well drained soil, lilies will thrive in raised borders or containers. The most common cause for loss over the winter is poor drainage, water freezing in and around the bulb. Ideal is a sandy loam soil. If this is not your garden don’t worry, try the following: -
- Loosen the soil to a depth of 30cm
- Add a layer of horticultural grit for heavy soils to improve drainage
- Work in plenty of good garden compost
- If drainage is a problem plant the bulbs on a layer of sharp sand
- Apply a top dressing as the first shoots start to emerge
Lilies thrive in sunny or light shady conditions but it is important that they are planted deep enough for the bulbs to remain cool during a hot summer (10-15 cm depending on the size of the bulb). With too little light the stems will tend to stretch and lean forward looking for the sun. For shaded areas grow in pots, place in the border a give a half turn every week.
Lilies require a moist but not saturated soil up to the first few weeks of flowering. After that they are generally quite happy with a dry summer and only need watering in exceptional circumstances. Do not water all the plant, especially when in flower, as this may cause burning in full sunlight.
Lilies can be troubled by botrytis, a fungus that spots the leaves in prolonged cool, wet weather. This will not harm the bulbs and can easily be treated with any rose fungicide.
How to choose your Lilies
I hope the following listing, although rather basic is of some benefit. If you can help with further suggestions, tips or information please email me using this address firstname.lastname@example.org
The Different Types of Lilies
Asiatic Hybrids are the earliest to flower (June/July) and among the easiest to grow. They cover the whole colour spectrum, except blue and their compact nature makes them of great value for use a naturalistic setting in the border. The dwarf strains are ideal for the patio or an exposed garden and do not require any support. They will do best in sun or dappled shade.
A wonderful strain of new Lilies, Pearl Lilies have been bred particularly as garden plants. They produce large candelabras of pendant or outfacing flowers borne on tall stiff stems of enormous strength. Highly recommended.
Pollen Free Lilies
This is a wonderful strain of Lilies bred particularly as garden plants. Pollen Free Lilies produce large candelabras of pendant or outfacing flowers borne on tall stiff stems of enormous strength. As their name suggests they have no pollen to shed so are more pet friendly than other varieties and will not affect anybody who has an allergy to Lily pollen.
Oriental Hybrid Lilies are originally derived from a crossing between Lillium speciosum and auratum. Individual blooms are very large and have an exquisite scent. These hybrids are typically stronger and more resistant than their species parents and are often more spectacular. They will thrive with plenty of water, a humus rich soil (use John Innes Ericaceous Compost) and mulch for cool roots.
Oriental Trumpet Lilies
Oriental Trumpet Lilies are a wonderful strain of Lilies, derived from a crossing between Trumpet Lilies and Oriental Hybrids resulting in a magnificent range of imposing garden plants. Tall and very robust, they are of enormous strength and sometimes referred to as "Tree Lilies".
These Lilies, with their large heads borne on tall stout stems, make a fine show grown in the border.
Prima Donnas of the July and August garden these are the lilies that will give your garden individuality, fragrance and distinction. Trumpet Lilies also make an impressive display planted in large pots.
Species and Species Hybrids
These are the wild lilies native to North America, Europe, and especially Asia (Japan, China, Korea, Burma, and India). This group is particularly suitable for garden planting. Our range of Species and Species Hybrids produce strong plants increasing from year to year.