The Asiatic lily (Lilium asiatica) makes a perfect plant for landscape design. One of the hardiest and most popular lilies grown, this true lily when planted correctly, produce long-lasting flowers.
Beginners new to planting bulbs find Asiatic lilies among the easiest of all lilies to play with.
They are the first lilies of the season to flower (early summer), and they multiply fast.
With simple care, these hardy, temperate northern hemisphere natives, grow and do well in USDA hardiness zones 10 all the way to 3.
Deep History Of Asiatic Lily Flowers From Ancient Egypt To China
The history of the Asiatic lilies run deep. Painted flowers of the Asiatic lily were found adorning the walls in ancient Egyptian pyramids.
Chinese paintings with the lily found their way into the power circle of Louis XIV.
Oriental Lily VS Asiatic Hybrid Lily
The Oriental hybrids share a number of features with the Asiatic hybrid lily.
However, they also possess distinct differences and no one should see them as the same. A few of their dissimilarities include fragrance, sizes, and bloom color.
How Big Are Asiatic Lily Bulbs?
The bulbs of Asiatic lilies appear large – 5″ to 6″ inches across – generally white along with a tint of pink.
The bulb color plays no part in flower color. Lily bulbs when harvested often look pinkish after exposure to sunlight.
The large bulbs store a lot of food giving them plenty of flower power in the spring, even with sub-par soil, water and fertilizer.
Asiatic Lily Care: Planting And Growing Asian Lilies
As stated earlier, Asiatic lily hybrids are the hardiest of all the lily hybrids. They flower fast each season and multiply fast making them perfect for beginners.
This hybrid lily comes in a wide range of colors from red, pink, yellow, orange, white and all other shades of bloom and color combinations except blue.
Plants provide a long season of bloom (up to 1 month), with flowers facing mostly upward and some provide a very light scent on warm windless days.
How To Plant Asiatic Lily Bulbs
Plant Asiatic lily bulbs in early spring or fall before frost in a fertile, well-drained soil. This allows the plants to develop a good root system.
Adding organic matter like peat moss will help improve the soil.
When you plant lilies, place them 12″ to 18″ inches apart and at a planting depth of 4″ to 6″ inches in full or partial sun.
A location receiving morning or late afternoon sun with six hours of sunlight minimum is preferable. Asian lilies like a slightly acidic (6.5 pH.) soil.
When you receive fresh bulbs plant them as soon as possible to keep them from drying out.
For a nicer look, place three or more lily bulbs that will eventually multiply into groupings.
Plant them among other flowers to provide the bulbs with shade. A bulb planter comes in handy to make a hole at just the right depth.
Tips For Watering Your Lily bulbs
The best Asiatic lily care will have bulbs planted with good drainage, but not a dry soil. Asiatics need 1 or 2 inches of water per week.
During hot and dry weather, the lilies may need supplemental watering to ensure the root zone stays well moistened. (A drip hose is a great option.) The soil should remain moist and not soggy.
As a guide, water the lilies when the top 1 inch of soil below the surface becomes dry will provide the plant with the needed moisture for them to thrive.
How To Fertilize Asiatic Lilies
A light ring of 5-10-10 fertilizer around the lilies, mixed into the topsoil provides the nutrients required for Asiatic lilies to thrive.
This type of fertilizer supplies phosphorus and other nutrients needed for large and healthy blooms.
Apply the fertilizer once the lilies begin to grow each spring following the application rate directions on the fertilizer bag.
Generally, these lilies do not require frequent fertilizing.
Propagating Asiatic Lilies
Propagate lilies from stem bulblets, bulb scales, stem bulbils, and bulb division. The fastest way comes from dividing plump bulbs.
Pull them apart and plant them separately.
The video below shows how to propagate lily bulbs by ‘Scaling”
When And How To Deadhead Asiatic Lilies
Deadheading the blooms as soon as the petals drop improves the appearance but also prevents the plant from using up its energy on seed development.
DO NOT prune the foliage however until it dies off naturally during fall. The leaves work gathering energy from the sun to store in the bulbs for next season’s bloom.
How To Care For Asiatic Bulbs After Blooming – Mulching and Winter Care
Once the foliage dies back naturally, cut the dead foliage to the ground.
Add a layer of 4 -6 inches of mulch – straw or leaf mold – to provide the bulbs with protection during winter.
This helps maintain soil temperature and prevent heaving.
Remove the mulch during spring after all danger of the frost passes. This will give room for new growth to appear.
A 2″ – inch layer of bark mulch applied after removing the winter mulch helps to preserve soil moisture and prevents weeds.
Asiatic Lilies Pests And Diseases
Asiatic lilies find themselves susceptible to fungal infection and aphids.
Also, use fungicides such as green guard, bravo or a tablespoon of baking soda in about two liters of warm water for fungal infection.
NOTE: Asiatic hybrids and species along with Oriental lilies may experience attacks from the destructive red lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii) which feeds almost exclusively on true lilies species (Lilium spp.).
Asiatic Uses In The Home And Garden
The stems of Asiatic lilies make nice cut flowers for use in floral arrangements. The lilies bloom last for several days up to several weeks.
Grow them as ground covers or in mixed perennial garden borders alongside other woody shrubs and flowering perennials.
They also make wonderful potted specimens.
Keep cats away from your lily bed as they like to lay in them and they can break the stems and ruin the plant.
The Asiatic lily plant could be called the “dream lily” of a home gardener.
Give them good, rich soil, lots of sunshine, water occasionally, and provide a little fertilizer and they do the rest.
During bloom time for most types is late May or June, where the bulbs produce an abundance of 3 to 12 blooms in a wide range of colors.
Don’t forget to give “other” Asiatic lily varieties a try such as the white and orange Asiatic lily.
All of them are easy to grow and also give gardens lots of colorful bloom to enjoy.