Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
There is a reason lilies are one of the most popular plants in the world – they are, quite simply – SPECTACULAR!
Lilies graced my flower gardens early on as I created my first flower border along the western edge of the vegetable garden. I was a very NEW gardener when I set off to the garden centres that first spring – no real plan or garden design in my mind – just wild enthusiasm at the prospect of filling the newly dug beds with as much glorious colour, scent and variety I could find.
I consider it good fortune that the sheer beauty of Asiatic lilies captured my attention immediately.
Three Asiatic lilies and one Oriental lily ‘Stargazer‘ came home with me that day and have proven over the years to be extremely hardy for our Zone 3 Manitoba garden as well as prolific – they SPREAD like crazy!
The Asiatic lilies in particular are very easy to grow for a new gardener and come in a phenomenal variety of colours; Bright orange, yellow and red or more pastel ranges in pink, plum and white.
My Mom, and sister Pat, have helped me many times over the years on our spring visits to divide and move all the lilies in my garden as they became overcrowded and in need of…SPACE. Knowing my love of lilies, my sister gave me a stained glass window filled with Madonna lilies which now hangs happily in my greenhouse catching the morning sun each day.
Some FACTS about lilies
- All lilies have six petals (well, technically – three sepals and three petals)
- The flower forms can vary from:
- The flower shapes can vary from:
- bowl shaped
- star shaped
- trumpet shaped
- any of the above can also have recurved petals (‘Martagons’ are a good example)
- Lance-shaped leaves and sturdy upright stems make these beauties superb for mass plantings
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LILIES
- Oriental (beautifully scented varieties!)
- Orientpets (bred at the Morden Research Center in Manitoba)
Some excellent resources to learn more about lilies and find varieties for your own garden:
- The Lily Nook in Neepawa, Manitoba – beautiful 2016 catalogue on their website to check out!
- The North American Lily Society
- Honeywood Lilies in Parkside, Saskatchewan
All lilies grow from fleshy bulbs with many overlapping scales…these bulbs are rather delicate, so handle them gently when planting or transplanting so you don’t bruise them!
Much like Clematis – these plants prefer a SUNNY location (some shade in the afternoon is welcome) and a nice organic mulch to keep their ‘feet’ cool.
General advice is to plant in the fall (bulbs are available at most garden centres in fall). But you can also purchase potted plants in the springtime; or what I do, is buy bagged bulbs which are also available in springtime.
TIP: If you buy lily bulbs in a bag – make sure you can see good pale roots and green growth which indicates they are sprouting and ready to get growing in your garden!
When you purchase bulbs – you’ll find they are not inexpensive…so turn your attention to decent organic soil to get these exotic beauties off to a good start and ensure many years of healthy growth.
They DO NOT appreciate overly damp soil – nor do they take kindly to sandy or dry locations. So the best organic loam you can provide is what you want to aim for.
I dig a fairly deep hole (to make sure the roots aren’t cramped in any way) add compost and a little bit of bonemeal to the bottom of the hole.
POINTY SIDE UP! 🙂
Make sure you gently firm the bulb into the hole and take care to remove any air pockets from around the roots…fingertips work best to make sure you have nice contact with the soil all around.
When I have them firmly planted in the soil to a depth approximately 4 times the bulb height – I finish off with a good top dressing of Sea Soil or organic compost to act as a living mulch…COOL…keep them cool at the soil level.
TIP: Lilies are similar to tomatoes/peppers in that the roots not only grow from the bottom of the bulb, but also from the sides of the stems…this is why you want to plant them at a good depth, because they will send out pale roots horizontally.
Some final notes on TRANSPLANTING lilies
Last fall I had to remove many perennials from two of our foundational beds which will be refurbished this season.
The vegetable garden at the end of the growing season serves a dual purpose in our lives – it becomes a ‘nursery bed‘ for any perennials that are awaiting permanent homes in new garden beds.
Yesterday, I transplanted several Asiatic lilies that overwintered in the vegetable nursery bed and planted them in the herbaceous border en mass.
Carefully dig around the emerging lily and try to get a large bit of soil around the plant so you don’t disturb the roots too much.
Follow the Planting tips above when you are transplanting lily bulbs to their new home – and follow with a good drink of water with a bit of root booster to lesson the shock.
I hope you feel inspired to try lilies in your own garden – and if you are already a BIG FAN of this gorgeous plant, have fun exploring the many colours and varieties and add some MORE to the mix!!
Garden lovers welcome💚
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