Lilies

Garden LiliesA favorite! Lilies with their large, attractive flowers add a splash of color to wherever they’re planted.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 70-120 days after spring growth
Height: 1 to 6 feet
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart in all directions

One of the most beautiful summer-flowering plants, home gardeners are growing lilies (lilium) for their exquisite trumpet-shaped blooms. Stems are strong, upright and unbranched, 1-6 feet tall. Flowers are large, beautifully colored in both bold and pastel shades and often fragrant.

Lilies may be grown individually in formal or naturalistic settings or en mass. Smaller species make excellent container plants. Blooms from late spring through early autumn, depending on species. Hardy perennial.

Site Preparation:

Plants thrive in full sun or partial shade and prefer moist, well-drained soil and excellent air circulation. Prior to planting work a shovelful or two of organic matter, such as compost or well-aged manure, into the soil (see How to Prepare Soil for Planting). This helps condition the soil, which improves drainage and will also increase the ability of lighter soils to hold water and nutrients. Most lily varieties perform poorly in extreme heat.

How to Plant:

A good rule of thumb is to plant bulbs with their bottoms resting at a depth three times the diameter of the bulb. For best results, plant lilies 6-9 inches deep and space approximately 8 inches apart. Lilies never go completely dormant — do NOT allow them to dry out. Even tiny lily plants should have no less than 6 inches of soil above the top of the bulb.

Avoid fertilizers containing excessive nitrogen. Organic fish fertilizer is the perfect nutrient source for lilies. Mulch with several inches of organic compost or shredded bark to keep the soil cool and moist.

Move or divide lilies only when overcrowded and bloom production stops. Transplanting should be done in late fall (see Fall Planting, Spring Color). Lily bulbs are very delicate and should be handled gently. Plant them immediately to prevent the bulbs from drying out. Discard any damaged or diseased bulbs.

Insects and Disease:

Common insect problems associated with lilies include aphids and bulb mites. The later are tiny whitish mites, which feed in groups and produce stunted, yellowed or deformed leaves and flowers. Infested bulbs have corky, brown spots that become powdery. Watch closely and dust with diatomaceous earth or other organic pesticide, if necessary.

Lily plants are also susceptible to fungal diseases such as rust and gray mold. Avoid overhead watering whenever possible and apply organic fungicides to prevent further infection.

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