Lily bulbs are made up of fleshy, overlapping scales. There is no outer protective skin and they must therefore not be allowed to dry out. Do not store Lily bulbs – plant them when they arrive. Pick carefully – choose bulbs which are neither bruised nor shrivelled.

PLANTING The planting season stretchesfrom late summer toearly spring-October is the best month. Pick a day when the soil is moist and frost-free. If the bulbs are shrivelled or if the weather is not suit-able on the day they arrive, pot up in moist peat beforeplantingout.MostLiliesarestem-rooting, producing roots on the stem just above the bulb as well as at the base. These bulbs will need 6 in. of soil on top of them. Afew Lilies, such as L.can-didum, are basal-rooting only and they need planting in the autumn and require only 2 in. of soil above them. Sprinkle coarse sand in the bottom of the hole before planting. Spread out the roots and sprinkle sand between them. Finally, refill the hole with soil.

SITE AND SOIL A well-drained site is essential. Most soil types are satisfactory, but light land should be enriched with organic matter and heavy soil will need peat and coarse sand if you wish to take Lily growing seriously. It is impossible to generalise about lime content – many species, such as L.auratum and L.pardalinum, will not thrive if it is presentwhilstafewothers.suchasL.candidum, require an alkaline soil. Fortunately most of the modern Lily Hybrids are quite tolerant and are not bothered either way. Most Lilies relish a sunny site but a little shade during the day is not a problem. The lower partsof the plant should be shaded by surrounding shrubs or low-growing perennials. Many varieties are not happy in an exposed situation – choose a sheltered spot.


English: Madonna Lily (Lilium candidum) is a p...

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Lilies must not be allowed to dry out – water thoroughly and regularly during dry weather. Feed occasionally with a liquid fertilizer, such as Instant Bio, and do not hoe – place a mulch around the stems instead. Not all Lilies have to be staked, but if you have a specimen over 3 ft high in an exposed situation thenstaking will certainly be needed. Stake in March rather than waiting until the stems have been blown over.

DEAD-HEADING Nipoff faded flowers beforetheseedsform-this will maintain the strength of the plant. At the end of the season allow the stems to die down naturally – cut off at ground level when dead.


Slugs are a menace when the shoots are beginning to appear – sprinkle Slug Pellets around the stems. Aphids are easily controlled by spraying and botrytis can be kept in check with a systemic fungicide. It is mosaic virus which threatens the life of the plant – the warning sign is a yellow mottling of the leaves followed by stunting of the plant and a reduction in both flower numbers and quality in subsequent years. There is no cure – lift the bulbs and burn the infected plants.

PROPAGATION The easiest method is the division of mature clumps in autumn. Replant immediately and accept the fact that the divided parts may not flower next year. Scaling is a popular method – pull off plump scales from a bulb and plant each one in Seed and Cutting Compost so that the bottom half of each scale is buried. Within 6 weeks tiny bulbs will appear at the scalebases-pot up each new plant in 3 in. potsand stand them in a cold frame or cool greenhouse.

Many Lilies can be raised from seed, but named varieties will not come true to type. Sow seeds under glass in autumn.

Fascinating flowers

There is a tremendous variation in lily flowers. Although always recognizable as lilies, they appear in no less than six different shapes.

Those that have bell-shaped flowers, such as L. nanum, have petals that are either straight or curve inwards towards the tips. In bowl-shaped flowers (L. auratum, for exam-

I pie), the petals are more widely spaced and slightly recurved or reflexed (that is, rolled back) at the tips.

Cup- or star-shaped flowers, as in the hybrid ‘Bright Star’, are similar but more compact, and may or may not roll back at the tips. L. regale has funnel-shaped flowers. These are more tubular, flaring out towards the mouth. Trumpet-shaped flowers, like those of the popular Easter lily (L. lon-gifiorum) are the same but longer and narrower.

Perhaps the best-known flower form is the turk’s cap or martagon type, with strongly recurved petals – sometimes so much so that the flower becomes actually ball shaped and the long, graceful stamens are fully exposed.

This is not the end of the lily flowers’ variety. While some are pendent, nodding their heads to the ground, others point outwards, or upwards to face the sun.

Many lilies add to their attractiveness with a rich fragrance, although some, such as L. pyrenaicum, actually smell rather unpleasant.

Most lilies flower in mid-summer, but some flower ear-lier or later, so it is perfectly possible to have a succession of lilies blooming in your garden for almost half the year.

The flowers are produced at the top of a single upright stem, grouped in pairs or bunches. The number of flowers can be up to 50 or more, and they appear over a period of several weeks. They vary in size from the modest 2.5cm/1in blooms of L. pumi-lum to those produced by the golden-rayed lily (L. auratum), which can reach 30cm/12in across. Lily leaves are stalkless and relatively insignificant, growing in whorls or scattered evenly up the stem.

True and false lilies

All true lilies – members of the genus Lilium – grow from bulbs. This distinguishes them from plants like arum lily (Zantedeschia) and day lily (Hemerocallis). The bulbs are different from ordinary ones like those of the daffodil, having no papery covering, and consisting of a large number of fleshy scales.

Like the flowers, the bulb shapes vary – some are round and some shaped like the rhi-zome of an iris, while others produce chains of round bulbs linked by stolons.

Many lilies produce bulblets on the underground part of the stem, just above the bulb. A few produce bulbils where the leaves join the stem. Both can be used for propagation.


L. amabile Height 4 ft.

Spacing: 1/2 ft. Stem-rooting. 3 in. turk’s-cap flowers – red with black spots. Disagreeable odour.

Flowering period: June-July.

L. auratum (Golden-rayed Lily) Height 5-8 ft.

A lilium longiflorum, commonly known as an Eas...

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Spacing: 1 ft. Stem-rooting. 8-10 in. bowl-shaped flowers – white with yellow stripes, brown spots. Fragrant.

Flowering period: August-September.

L. bulbiferum (Orange Lily) Height 2-4 ft.

Spacing: 9 in. Stem-rooting. 3 in. trumpet-shaped flowers – orange with purple spots.

Flowering period: June-July.

L. canadense (Canada Lily) Height 4-6 ft.

Spacing: 1 ft. Basal-rooting. 2 in. trumpet-shaped flowers – yellow with brown spots.

Flowering period: September- October. Grow in partial shade.

L. candidum (Madonna Lily) Height 4-5 ft.

Spacing: 9 in. Basal-rooting. 3 in. trumpet-shaped flowers – pure white. Fragrant.

Flowering period: June-July.

L. hansonii (Golden Turk’s-cap Lily) Height 4-5 (t.

Spacing: 1 ft. Stem-rooting. VA In, turk’s-cap flowers – yellow with brown spots. Fragrant.

Flowering period: June- July.

L. henryi (Henry’s Lily) Height 6-8 ft.

Single orange day lily

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Spacing: 1/2 ft. Stem-rooting. 3 in. turk’s-cap flowers – yellow with dark red spots. Fragrant.

Flowering period: August- September.

L. longiflorum (Easter Lily) Height 2.5-3 ft.

Spacing: 9in. Stem-rooting. 5-6 in. trumpet-shaped flowers – white. Fragrant.

Flowering period: July-August. Hall hardy – grow under glass.

L. martagon (Turk’s-cap Lily) Height 3-5 ft.

Spacing: 1 ft. Basal-rooting, ½ in. turk’s-cap flowers – purplish brown with dark spots. Disagreeable odour.

Flowering period: June-July.

L. pardalinum (Leopard Lily) Height 3-6 ft.

Spacing: 1 ft. Basal-rooting. 2’/? in. turk’s-cap flowers – dark orange with purple spots.

Flowering period: July.

L. pumilum (Coral Lily) Height 1-1.5 ft.

Spacing: 6 in. Stem-rooting.

VA in. turk’s-cap flowers – scarlet.

Flowering period: June. L. regale (Regal Lily) Height 3-6 ft.

Spacing: 1/2 ft. Stem-rooting. 5 in. trumpet-shaped flowers – white with yellow throat. Fragrant.

Flowering period: July- August.

L. speclosum Height 3-5 ft.

Spacing: VA ft. Stem-rooting. 3-5 in. bowl-shaped flowers – white with red markings. Fragrant.

Flowering period: August-September. Half hardy – grow under glass. L. tigrinum (Tiger Lily) Height 3-5 ft.

Spacing: 1/2 ft. Stem-rooting. 3-4 in. turk’s-cap flowers – deep orange with purple spots.

Flowering period: July- September.


L. ’Backhouse Hybrids’ Height3-5ft.

Spacing: 1/2 ft. Basal-rooting. VA in. turk’s-cap flowers – various colours.

Flowering period: June-July. Examples: ‘Brocade’ and ‘Sutton Court’.

L. ’Belllngham Hybrids’ Height 4-7 ft.

Spacing: 1/2 ft. Rhizome-rooting, 3 in. turk’s-cap flowers – various colours, all spotted.

Flowering period: July. Examples: ‘Shuksan’ and ‘Afterglow’.

L. Fiesta Hybrids’ Height 3-5 ft.

Spacing: 1/2 ft. Stem-rooting. 3 in. turk’s-cap flowers – various colours.

Flowering period: July. Examples: ‘Adagio’ and ‘Many Moons’.

L. ’Mid-Century Hybrids’ Height 2-4 ft.

Spacing: 1 ft. Stem-rooting. 4-5 in. trumpet-shaped flowers-yellow, orangeor red, all spotted.

Flowering period: June-July. Example: ‘Enchantment’.

L. ’Olympic Hybrids’ Height 5-6 ft.

Spacing: 1/2 ft. Stem-rooting. 5 in. trumpet-shaped flowers – various colours. Fragrant.

Flowering period: July-August. Example: ‘Black Dragon’.

L. ’Parkmannii Hybrids’ Height 3-5 ft.

Spacing: 1 ft. Stem-rooting. 6-7 in. bowl-shaped flowers – various colours.

Flowering period: July-August. Examples: ‘Imperial Crimson’ and ‘Pink Glory’.

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