6 Tips For Selecting The BEST Lilies For Your Garden

Lilies come as elegant, fragrant, and colorful, yet give the impression of being quite difficult to grow. But in fact, lilies are very easy to plant, care for, and grow.

Although they come in such a wide variety of bloom or foliage colors and types, you can easily keep an attractive and lush garden consisting entirely of lilies with very little care.

red lilies

In this article, we will discuss the types of lilies available to you. Furthermore, we will provide some smart tips on making good selections for your specific area. Read on to learn more.

Growing Lilies – Look for True Lilies

You may believe that the Daylily, Calla lily bulbs, Canna Lily and the famous Peace plant (peace lily) are all classified as lilies because their names contain verbiage giving that impression. As a matter of fact, these and several other similarly named plants does not actually belong to the genus Lilium. Members of this genus appear distinct in several ways, including:

  • The leaves look very narrow and emerge from the top to the bottom of the stems.
  • Bulbs consist of fleshy, overlapping scales.
  • The bulbs hold no protective covering.
  • The stems appear very stiff and sturdy.
  • True lily blossoms are large, fragrant, decorous, and come in a variety of shapes, such as the trumpet-shaped flower, bowl, and bell.

Depending upon the type of lily, flower buds may face upwards, downwards, or outwards.

Bloom colors and patterns vary in great abundance. You can find true lilies ranging in hue from pure white to nearly black. Flowering shrubs may show freckled markings, variegated blossoms, frilled edges, and other attractive variations in many different combinations.

6 Tips For Selecting the Right Lilies for Your Setting?

Most lilies will get off to a grand start during the growing season, but if they do not suit your area, they will not thrive. Many different varieties of lilies exist, and you need to make sure to read the information about your bulbs carefully to determine whether they will grow in your environment or not.

Familiarize yourself with your area’s hardiness zone designation and choose bulbs resilient in your climate. All kinds of lilies seem frequently chosen as additions in arboretums. Visiting your local arboretum during the growing season is a good way to find out which lilies do well in your area.

Look for a local supplier to make sure you acquire bulbs suitable in your area. When lilies do well, they do very well, indeed, and you can often find local lily gardeners who will sell you (or even give you) the offspring of their plants. Check with local gardening societies and clubs to find good sources.

Bulbs produced by parent plants during the summer usually grow available late in autumn. You should plant them soon after purchasing because lily bulbs cannot last storages through late winter as other types of bulbs can.

Specific Traits to Seek

Superior stamina makes a trait running consistently through genus Lilium. Some of the toughest types include Oriental lily and prolific flowering Asiatic lily.

These varieties are easy to grow, rugged, and do not need staking to keep them standing, as they typically possess very sturdy stems. Moreover, they do well in almost any kind of soil with good drainage.

Even in the most challenging conditions, Oriental and Asiatic lilies produce big, beautiful, sweetly fragrant blooms. They come in a variety of colors, and the blossoms often look quite fancy with frilly edges.

Northeastern gardeners often choose these types of lilies. Also, many recommend them for cold climates. When properly cared for and deeply mulched, the bulbs can survive through extremely cold winters and thrive throughout the growing season.

Consider Height, Color, and Bloom Time

To create an interesting and varied “all-lily” garden, look for specimens that vary in height, color and patterns. Assembling a collection of flowers that grow and bloom at different times will also help keep your garden interesting and visually appealing from early spring to late fall.

When thinking of height, consider some lilies such as:

… only reaches a maximum height of 2 to 3 feet. Other types such as Casablanca, Journey’s End, and Black BeautyBlack Beauty can reach heights up to 6 feet.

When you pay close attention to the height of the specimens you select, you can create an attractive tiered effect in your garden.

Bloom time also takes a significant part as some varieties bloom as early as June, while others may not bloom until mid-autumn. Pay close attention to the information coming along with your bulbs to plan your plantings to experience the greatest advantage of bloom time. Caring for a varied mix keeps your garden colorful and attractive throughout the growing season.

Plan your color choices carefully. True lilies come in a vast array of colors and patterns ranging from the classic white of Casa Blanca to the sunny yellow of Connecticut King, to the deep and impressive red of Black Beauty. You can create a lily bed in coordinated shades of whites, yellows, and creams, mix shades of red and orange, create a fragrant and feminine display of pinks, or mix it all up with a crazy quilt concept. The possibilities for color combining come endless when you plant true lilies.

No matter what sort of color combinations you conceive, keep in mind your lilies will look best if you plant them in groupings of three to five of the same shade. This helps prevent having subtle colors overshadowed by bolder hues.

Helping Your Lilies Thrive

If spring comes upon you and you want to have lilies this year, you can certainly go ahead and plant your bulbs. Additionally, if you received lily plants during the growing season or purchased them at a nursery, you can always transplant them into your garden during the spring, summer, and early fall.

Tough, adaptable true lilies tend to do well if you provide proper growing conditions. Bulbs can be planted either in the early spring or the autumn. Either way, you should plant your bulbs soon after acquiring them. Because they wear no protective covering, lily bulbs will dry out and die when stored.

Provide Plenty of Sunlight

For the most part, lilies love the sun. A minimum of six hours of direct sunlight daily will help your lilies grow strong and stay healthy. Without this minimum amount of light, they may become floppy and spindly.

Some hybrids can do well with partial shade. If getting enough sun seems challenging in your location, look for Martagon Hybrid Turk’s Cap Lilies.

Don’t Crowd!

Plant the plump, healthy lily bulbs between eight and twelve inches apart. Each group of bulbs should stay three to five feet away from the nearest group. This will give the plants room to spread and grow.

Proper spacing of your plants will also help provide suitable air circulation and good sun exposure. Moreover, ample air circulation helps prevent fungal infection. Sufficient sun exposure promotes healthy photosynthesis.

Larger, plumper bulbs do better and produce healthier, stronger plants. Plant at a depth of about six inches.

On the other hand, plant medium-sized bulbs at about 4 inches. Avoid planting small bulbs as they simply will not do well.

When you leave enough space between your groupings, the bulbs get room to spread and thrive. When they become crowded, you will end up with a few top-performing large bulbs and a lot of small, under-performing bulbs. These tend to consume nutrients without providing much return.

Some gardeners divide their lilies annually, but you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. Lilies can do quite well when divided and replanted every few years.

Make Sure Your Drainage Is Good

As with all bulbs, lily bulbs will rot when left to stand in water. Plant them in an area elevated enough to allow excess water to run off freely. For best results plant lilies in a location with well-drained soil.

Soil should stay light and airy. If your soil holds heavy clay content, you will need to amend it by adding organic matter to improve aeration, drainage, and fertility.

Excessive moisture can cause a fungal disease called Botrytis blight. This can come as a result of overcrowding and excessive rain, excessive watering, or watering too late in the day.

Take care to water lightly and do this early in the day to dry out the water splashed onto the leaves. Avoid overhead watering. Instead, use a soaker hose or a buried irrigation system.

Protect Against Freezing

In areas of reliable and lasting snow cover, mulching does not come necessary for established lily beds. A blanket of snow can help to protect the soil against freezing. Meanwhile, in areas getting hard freezes without snow covering, lily beds will require mulching.

If you just planted your bulbs in the late fall, mulch them before winter regardless of snow cover. Freshly planted bulbs need extra protection to help them get established.

Few materials making a good mulch includes

When springtime comes, you do not need to remove the mulch. It will continue to protect the soil, nourish your bulbs, and help conserve moisture.

Enjoy a Bright and Colorful Growing Season with Easy Care Lilies

Compared with many other types of gorgeous and exotic plants, lilies make absolute tops when it comes to carefree enjoyment.

Pests and diseases rarely plague them, but you need to take crucial steps to protect young shoots against slugs, spider mites and rabbits.

Moreover, aphids may also pose problems early on. You can easily deal with aphids by a blast from the garden hose and the introduction of friendly fauna such as ladybugs.

If you chose the location of your lily bed correctly, amended your soil wisely, and planted and mulched properly, you should enjoy your beautiful lilies throughout the spring, summer, and early autumn.

Use a liquid water-soluble fertilizer or provide a dose of slow-release fertilizer (5–10–10) early in the springtime to provide extra phosphorus and encourage healthy growth.

Throughout the growing season, make sure to deadhead faded flowers to help conserve the plants’ energy. Leave foliage in place until it begins to fade in the fall. You can cut down dead stalks in the autumn, or leave them in place until spring and remove them just before the beginning of the growing season.

With this light, simple, consistent care, true lilies provide a wealth of delight for many months, year after year. They grow, bloom, and spread actively, awakening the senses with vibrant colors and a delicious aroma.

What To Do About Lily Troubles – Virus, Fungus & Rot

It’s true – lilies years ago were difficult plants to grow in the average garden. But thanks to years of research on lily diseases, growing lilies can be a very gratifying gardening experience.

Success with lilies requires that the grower of lily bulbs and the gardener make full use of the present knowledge of lily diseases.

The control measures for these diseases are not difficult, but they do require some study and long-range planning. Getting out the sprayer about June 1 and squirting some all-purpose mixture on the plants at intervals is not the answer.

Approach the control of lily diseases as a challenge to your skill and knowledge as a gardener. Your reward of mastering the subject is a beautiful garden full of a large and varied assortment of plants.

What Are The 3 Most Important Lily Diseases

Three diseases of lilies are important:

  • Mosaic, a virus disease
  • Botrytis, a fungus disease of the foliage
  • Basal rot, which attacks the bulb

Other diseases are usually of minor importance.

The Lily Mosaic Virus Is The Most Important

Mosaic is the most important disease of lilies. In fact, mosiac is why many consider lily bulbs difficult to grow.

Lily mosaic is a virus disease. The virus is systemic, and found in all parts of the plant except the seeds. It does not live in the soil or in dead parts of the lily plant.

Aphids commonly transmit the virus from infected to healthy plants. The common melon aphid being particularly offensive in this respect. Any environmental condition that favors the aphid and its movements means an increased rate of spread of mosaic among the lilies.

Lily mosaic causes the leaves to become mottled with irregular, elongated light streaks, varying in width and sometimes extending the entire length of the leaf.

In Lilium auratum, speciosum, superbum, canadense, monadelphum, formosanum and others, the symptoms are very distinct, especially in early spring when the leaves have expanded and while the weather is still cool.

Colorful Tiger Lily Flower
Colorful Tiger Lilies in Flower

Unfortunately, with some species, the symptoms are less distinct, especially after a few warm days. And even the expert would have trouble in identifying mosaic in virus tolerant species.

However, it is well to be suspicious of lilies in which the leaves are not uniformly dark green. Chlorosis, probably caused by iron deficiency, produces a yellowish coloring, but the pattern is uniform, the areas between the leaves turning yellow while the veins remain green.

The control of mosaic may be handled in various ways, depending upon how deeply involved you are in lily growing.

The collector of every new lily that comes on the market has a different and much more difficult problem than the gardener who grows only a few species.

Lily mosaic is not transmitted through the seeds; hence all lilies raised from seeds, away from diseased lilies, are healthy.

The best advice I can give the beginner with lilies is to raise all of his lilies from seeds and have no others in the garden, or within a few hundred feet.

Roguing Out and Destroying Diseased Lilies

However, since many will purchase bulbs, it will be necessary to resort to roguing out and destroying the diseased lilies as soon as the symptoms become evident in the spring.

Remove diseased plants from the garden. Burn them and not leave them to wilt near healthy lilies.

Another approach to the problem is based upon the fact that some lilies rarely become infected with mosaic, while others, even though infected, are very tolerant of the virus and may be expected to perform well.

There are enough of these to make a fair showing in the garden without growing the susceptible types.

The Martagons, Lilium hansoni, and hybrids between them, including the Back-house hybrids, rarely take mosaic. Lilium pardalinum and the Bellingham hybrids are fairly free from mosaic.

Virus tolerant lilies include:

  • The umbellatum group
  • The Elegans varieties
  • The trumpet lilies and their hybrids with henryi, of which Havemeyer and aurelianense and their numerous offspring were widely distributed.

Among the susceptible types are:

  • Lilium auratum
  • Lilium browni
  • Lilium colchesteri
  • Lilium canadense
  • Lilium cernutim
  • Lilium formosantim
  • Lilium japonicum
  • Lilium leichtlini
  • Lilium maximowiczi
  • Lilium monadelphum
  • Lilium rubellum
  • Lilium sargentiae

… and other less common lilies. These must be grown apart from the others and grown carefully.

Botrytis On Lily Leaves A Fungus Disease Foliage Attack

Botrytis blight, or botrytis, is a fungus disease which attacks the foliage. Lilium candidum and Lilium testaceum are both very susceptible and in periods of warm wet weather in May and June, most of the leaves on these species may be blighted. Occasionally even the flower buds are attacked.

Other susceptible species are Lilium longiflorum, the Easter lily, and Lilium sargentiae, humboldti, washingtonianum and formosanum. Under severe conditions, other lilies may be attacked.

The disease first appears as small reddish brown circular spots on the leaves, which in severe attacks in wet weather may merge and destroy the whole leaf.

Prolonged wet periods which cause moisture to remain long on the foliage when temperatures are 60 degrees or above favor the rapid development of botrytis.

Botrytis may be prevented or at least greatly reduced, by spraying the lilies with Bordeaux spray, 4-2-50, at intervals of ten days to two weeks during the period of rapid growth in May and June.

In wet seasons more frequent spraying is necessary than in dry seasons. The spray should be on the foliage before, not after the rain.

Bordeaux Spray Mixture

Make a Bordeaux mixture in three-gallon batches by dissolving:

  • 4 oz of copper sulphate in part of the water
  • Put 2 oz of hydrated lime in the rest of the water
  • Pour the two solutions together

The spray should be used immediately as it soon loses its efficiency. A wetting agent or spreader-sticker, increases the effectiveness of the spray.

A copper lime dust may also be used, but the spray is more effective. If the dust is used, it should he applied when the foliage is wet with dew.

Good air circulation, as on a slope or an airy site, favors rapid drying of the foliage after rain or heavy dews and tends to reduce injury front botrytis.

Many gardeners never spray their Madonna lilies and have fair results. But generally speaking, any plant on which the foliage is maintained at full efficiency throughout the growing season will turn in a better performance next year than one which loses its leaves, or has their efficiency reduced prematurely by disease.

What Is Basal Rot? How Does It Affect Bulbs?

Basal rot is a fungus disease of the bulbs. The fungus, a species of fusarium, lives in the soil and invades the plant through the roots and the basal plate, causing the bulb to fall apart and the plant to die.

Above ground symptoms are a premature yellowing of the foliage and a stunting of the plant. When these symptoms appear, the plant should be dug and the bulb examined. Infected bulbs should be destroyed if they are of easily replaced varieties.

Rare and expensive lilies may be cleaned up and replanted elsewhere if the basal plate is still intact and only a few scales have become loosened.

Lilies vary greatly in their susceptibility to basal rot. L. candidum and L. testaceum are very susceptible. However, in some gardens those species thrive if left alone.

It is when they are moved about in a general collection of lilies that much trouble from basal rot may be expected. Other susceptible lilies are the Martagons and some of their hybrids, L. browni, formosanum, japonicum, rubellum, bulbiferum, bulbiferum croceum, auratum and a few others.

The lily specialist who grows many species, brings in bulbs from many sources and is digging, propagating and moving them about, may expect the fungus to build up in his soil to the point where it will be difficult to grow the susceptible types.

Planting sterilized bulbs in soil which has not previously grown lilies will keep the situation in hand as long as new land is available.

Basal rot is sometimes serious in seed flats. Grow seedlings of all susceptible species in a sterile medium. Sterilized soil, vermiculite as recommended. Sawdust is another possibility.

More on Lily Troubles here.

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