Oriental Lily Care: Learn To Grow The Tough, Fragrant, Showy Lilium Orientalis

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Many homeowners confuse the “Oriental lily” with “Asian lily” (Asiatic lilium). The Oriental Lily plants holds several distinct characteristics compared to its lily cousin.

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The Difference Between Asiatic And Oriental Lilies?

The Oriental (Lilium Orientalis) usually grows taller reaching 3′ to 6′ feet compared to Asian lilies 2′ to 5′ feet height size. Some overlap occurs, but these are general averages. Orientals also bear fragrant flowers and are loved for their toughness.

How To Care For Oriental Lilies

Showy and tough, Lilium Oriental are steady year after year showy performers. One simple reminder for oriental lily care:

Roots in the shade, foliage, and blooms in the full sun for about 6 hours or less. When protected from the hot afternoon sun, they thrive but do not hold up well when faced with high winds.

An excellent location for planting is close to the house on a west side.

Here they should receive ample sunlight, but less of that blazing afternoon or late day heat. Winds around buildings tend to spin and swirl. Often close to the walls is a narrow ‘eye of the hurricane’.

Planting close to walls can shield lilies oriental stems from strong winds which could snap the stalk if not staked.

The plants under genus lilium are easy to grow.

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Selecting A Location For Planting

When selecting a planting location near a house, look for an area that does not hold excess water after a rain or from roof runoff. A location with a gentle slope away from the foundation (all good houses do) is best.

If the planting location does not drain due to improper site landscape grading, proper soil type can encourage drainage.

Soil can be removed and a good well-drained soil can replace the non-draining soil.

Rotting roots and a bluish mold – botrytis – can ruin bulbs when soils hold excess water. Remember these before you start to sow seeds.

“Drainage is more important than fertility when growing lilies,” advises Birmingham gardener Weesie Smith. She recommends mixing in Gran-I-Grit (a crushed granite product used as a supplement to feed chickens) to loosen the soil and improve drainage. It comes in three grades. Use the 1/16-inch granite particles (called Starter grade) for soil preparation. The coarser 1/4-inch granite particles (called Developer-Layer grade) help deter voles, which love the bulbs. Look for it at your local feed and seed. via Southern Living

Best Soil For Planting The Oriental Lily

The Oriental lilies prefer rich, moist and well-drained soils. If you have soil with lots of clay or sand, add organic matter such as leaf molds, peat or composted manure to improve it. Work the organic material into the about a foot deep into planting bed and the soil feels loose.

How To Plant Bulbs Of Oriental Lilies:

  • Lily bulbs can be planted pretty much all year round but spring or fall is best. Bulbs planted in spring will generally produce healthier plants.
  • Handle bulbs with care as scales easily break off the lily bulb.
  • When planting lily bulbs space them 6″-10″ inches apart in a hole 4″-6″ inches deep, usually twice as deep as the height of the bulbs.
  • Add fertilizer to the planting hole, using the recommended amount and cover it with soil before placing the bulb.
  • In the hole place the bulbs roots down and point up like a Hershey’s Kisses. Cover the bulb with soil and water well. To keep bulbs cool and conserve moisture add a layer of mulch.
  • When shoots begin to show, start a monthly fertilizing program with a 1-2-1 ratio (6-12-6, 4-8-4).
  • Protect lilies from high winds, stake tall stalks if needed. Keep roots cool with mulch.
  • Prevent seed pods from forming by removing dead blooms. When stems turn brown, cut the stems down to ground level. Never cut bloom stalks down while they are still green.

Fertilizing Oriental Lilies

Besides applying the fertilizer when planting, continue feeding the plant with high phosphorous food or bone meal to produce bigger, longer lasting blooms.

Stargazer lilies (Lilium ‘Stargazer’) require fertilizers with high-potassium content. This oriental hybrid lily may thrive without this for as long as you got a good quality of soil.

Top-dressing bulbs with slow releasing fertilizer in early spring will also help in growing strong and healthy plants.

Apply fish emulsion fertilizer, compost tea, worm casting and nitrogen plant food for the best results.

Take precautions not to over-fertilize as this can create lush green foliage and limit blooms

Watering and Mulching

For best results, give Oriental lily bulbs least 1 inch of water every week. They don’t like wet feet, keep the soil moist but not wet by adding a layer of 5″ to 6″ inches of mulch. To avoid water logging in containers make sure planters drain well.

Pest and Diseases Affecting Oriental Lilies

One of the main pests affecting oriental lilies is the red lily leaf beetle. Spray insecticidal soaps regularly for control. Control slugs and snails using a variety of control options found here.

The fungal disease – gray mold affects the oriental’s. Reduce humidity with better ventilation and not overcrowding plants.

Garden Fragrance and Lovely Scent

One lovely “fragrant” advantage Oriental lilies offer is a spicy scent. The beautiful Asiatic lilies lack any particular aroma. Oriental’s produce a blend of spicy perfumes, making them beautiful to look at and wonderful to smell in the fragrant garden.

They naturally produce a fragrant scent, but without proper care, the spicy scent can be destroyed.

Pink Oriental lilies “play” well with other garden perennials and Asiatics, they can all be planted in the same garden. Beware, Asiatics have a tendency to spread, so providing plenty of space between stalks should give underground roots adequate space.

Propagating Lilium Oriental by Dividing

To propagate lily types by dividing you only need a few tools: Shovel, 5-gallon bucket and garden gloves.

Overwintering The Oriental Flowers

Depending on where you live your Oriental bulbs will need to come indoors or can stay outdoors. Wikihow put together a quick step by step for both indoors and outdoors winter bulb care.

Storing bulbs indoors during winter.

  • Lift your lily bulbs after the first frost.
  • Carefully dig out your bulbs.
  • Check your bulbs carefully for rot or any signs of disease.
  • Put the bulbs on a tray and allow them to dry for a few days.
  • Dust the bulbs with fungicidal powder and put them in storage.
  • Store the bulbs in a dark, dry place.
  • Re-plant the bulbs outdoors in mid to late spring.

If your bulbs will winter outdoors during the winter season.

  • Leave lily bulbs outdoors in milder climates.
  • Allow the plant to die back on its own.
  • Improve soil drainage.
  • Raise the bulbs above water level.
  • Cover the ground with mulch.
  • Replant the overwintered bulbs in middle to late spring.
  • Choose a well-drained spot in a sunny position.
  • Alternatively, re-plant overwintered bulbs in a container. If you want your flowers to bloom especially early, try container planting in December.
  • Water the bulbs after replanting.
  • Feed the lilies once every two weeks.
  • Keep an eye out for pests.

Read the full article with images and more information at wikihow.com

Live in a “cold area?” Emmett & Marie Wenger share their experience at titled – Growing Orientals in the Colder Zones.

Support Flower Stalks with Stakes

The Oriental lilly requires extra support since most varieties tend to get top-heavy when in bloom. A strong summer rainstorm and wind which usually occurs in late July can cause toss them about. To keep them upright use Bamboo stakes tied with raffia.

Prolong Flowers In The Garden

As with most flowers, avoid getting water on the blooms. Water drops may make for impressive images, but are generally not best for blooms. They tend to shorten a blooms life, especially on hot weather and causes petals to wilt.

Water drops can also produce burn spots when water droplets function like mini magnifying glasses in the sun.

To continue enjoying the beautiful blooms in the garden, remove flowers as they fade. This encourages flowering by keeping the plant from using energy to produce seeds. When the leaves and stems turn yellow and die, cut the plant back to the ground.

Uses Of Oriental lilies

The oriental lilies make excellent landscaping additions for late summer time flower color in the garden. Their blooms work as great cut flowers making them perfect in flower arrangements. Cut stems as the lily flowers open in the early morning when still cool. Just a few stems will make a beautiful bouquet.

Caution: As the blooms begin to open, take care not to let their pollen stain your clothes.

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