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How to Successfully Grow Lily Bulbs


Growing lilies bulbs is very rewarding and you will be presented with some beautiful blooms later on in the year. While lilies do not always flower for a long time, they will often be some of the most beautiful and ornate flowers in a garden, attracting lots of attention, especially as they come in a wide array of colours. Lilies are a real statement flower that you will be able to enjoy year after year, with different splashes of colour added to your garden.

If you order lily bulbs, they will usually be sent out to you early on in the year. They should be planted quickly after they arrive if the weather allows you to do so, as this will give you the very best results. Your lilies are going to need rich soil that is well draining in order to grow healthily.

Here is how you should plant your lily bulbs:

  • Add a good amount of manure and compost to help the lilies grow well.
  • If the soil is not well draining, you can add a layer of sharp sand to help.
  • The bulbs will then need to be located at around 10-15cm (bigger bulbs will need to be planted deeper).

Here is a guide if you are going to grow your lilies in pots instead of in the ground:

Ensure that the soil mixture is free draining but will retain some moisture. Loam, peat and leaf mould can be added to help, though avoid fresh manure. Deep pots are needed and the bulbs need to be planted at a depth where they can be covered in plenty of soil – at least 7cm is required.

Pots need to be kept in a shady place. Water needs to be given, but sparingly – soil needs to be moist but well ventilated.

There are many beautiful varieties of lily that you can grow very well from bulb. Some popular ones are oriental trumpet lilies, oriental hybrids, pearl lilies and trumpet lilies. There are many colours and petal and trumpet shapes that you can choose from. Check where your preferred lilies will grow best so you can give your bulbs the best chance of success.

During the first year, lilies grown from bulb will root from the stem. Usually they would grow roots from the basal plate – in practice, what this means is that some lilies will look better in their second years once their basal root system has started to develop. For some varieties, this performance improvement will continue into the third year that they are growing, especially if they are planted in a garden rather than in a pot so they have more space for these root systems to develop.

For the best results in the future, you can add fresh top dressing in autumn – this should always be done once the plants and flowers have died down. One thing you will need to watch out for is greenfly, as they will often like lilies. Any affected flowers should be treated accordingly.