How to Grow Lilies

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Luscious Lilies for your garden pots or borders

Whether you’re a fan of scented or unscented; tall or short; subtle or bold colours, there’s a  lily for everyone. I often get asked how to choose a lily and I guess this is where I start…

Where are you thinking of planting your lilies?

Firstly, where would you like to grow your lilies? Pots or garden borders? If you’re planning on planting up your lily bulbs in pots for your patio (or making a pot feature around your garden), then the world is your oyster when it comes to lily choice. This is because different lilies like different soil types. Therefore, you can choose any lily and just mix up the right soil/compost for it. Lilies are generally happy in a good-quality, peat-free, multi-purpose compost. This leads me to the next question…

Scented or unscented Lilies?

Do you prefer to have the gorgeous scent filling your garden in the summer months or are you just hooked on having a garden bursting with vibrant colour? These are the two clear differentiators in my mind. So, if you’re the latter then the unscented Asiatic lilies are the clear winners when it comes to bold and beautiful colour. Asiatics vary from bright yellows and oranges to the deepest dark reds as well as two-toned lilies. But if it’s the perfume you just can’t resist, then the Oriental lilies and Roselilies are your best pick. Oriental lilies come in a palette of pinks, whites and even yellows. Some are amazingly decorative too.

Roselily Felicia

Tall or short Lilies?

If you’re happy to have either colour or scent, then you may want to ask yourself how tall you would you like your lilies to be? There’s short varieties (known as Pot lilies or Dwarf lilies) in both Asiatic or Oriental, and you can even produce a spectacular display of Tree-like lilies which can reach up to an impressive height of 7ft.

Do you know your soil type?

When it comes to planting your lilies in your garden borders, you will need to know which soil type you have as this will affect the growth of the lilies. The one key rule for where ever you are growing lilies is well-drained soil. They must have plenty of drainage to avoid the bulbs from rotting. Asiatic lilies prefer an alkaline soil and Orientals an acidic soil. If you are unsure of your soil type, then we would advise planting in pots or opting for any of the hybrid lilies like the Oriental trumpets (tree-like lilies), Longiflorum Asiatics or Longiflorum Orientals. All of which are equally gorgeous and happy in any well-drained soil! 

Helpful tips on growing lilies

Planting your lilies couldn’t be easier once you have chosen the right soil for the variety.

Simply plant with the growing tip pointing upwards and the roots below and cover the top of the bulb with 4-6” (10-15cm) of soil. 

If planting in pots, plant 3 bulbs in a 10-14” (25-35cm) ‘patio type’ pot. You can plant more in a larger pot or less in a smaller pot. It really depends on the display you would like to achieve. You can also stagger the planting, using different lilies to achieve different heights.

Lilies can tolerate very cold conditions but they do not like to get wet. 

Most lilies prefer to be planted in a location with at least half a day’s full sunshine, if it’s a bit too shady they will lean their stems towards the sun. Unless you have Martagon lilies, as these actually like their head in the sun but feet in the shade. 

Lilies are generally happy in a good-quality, peat-free, multi-purpose compost.

When the Lily has finished flowering, cut any seed heads back and allow the foliage to die back naturally. Do not be tempted to cut the stem back until stems become hollow and brown.

Believe it or not, lilies like a cold-dormant phase and like to be left where they are during winter, just ensure there is adequate drainage so they can’t get waterlogged. Lilies are very hardy and can tolerate up to -20°c.

Many people have lilies for a cut flower garden, if you do wish to cut lilies for indoor arrangements, then ensure to leave 50cm of stem to allow for another season of flower the following year. 

To prevent Lily Beetles from damaging your lilies, we recommend using the Lily Beetle Prevention Spray or you can make up your own with the Concentrate. This Spray (Grazers G4) will also stimulate growth of your lilies.

You can feed your lilies with a Tomato Feed to stimulate and strengthen your lilies when you start to see signs of growth. Make up your tomato feed with half the recommended dilution (written on the instructions on the bottle) and feed once every 3 weeks. 

FAQ on growing lilies

Lilies

How do I plant my lily bulbs?

Lilies are very hardy bulbs. They can tolerate very cold conditions but do not like to get wet. If planting in borders the soil must be free draining and preferably humus rich. Some lilies prefer acid soil, mainly Oriental lilies, and some prefer alkaline mainly Asiatic lilies. It is best to check which soil you have. When planting in pots or tubs you must make sure that they are kept moist but do not get waterlogged. Plant bulbs with 4-6″ (10-15cm) of soil above them. If planting in pots, plant 3 in a 10-14″ (25-35cm) pot, in a good-quality, peat-free, multi-purpose compost.. John Innes No.3 is ideal for Lilies also. If it appears too dense, add some horticultural grit to improve drainage.

Some lilies are lime-haters (e.g. L. Auratum and L. Speciosum), and should be potted into pure ericaceous compost. John Innes ericaceous compost is recommended.

Lilies are heavy feeders, so add granules of a controlled-release fertiliser when planting.

You can find planting instructions for every variety of flowering bulbs at the bottom of every product page on our website.

Do I need to feed my lilies?

If you want to feed your lilies then a slow release fertilizer is best. Also a general tomato feed has shown to be beneficial for lily growth, use 1/2 the dilution recommended on the bottle. Or use the Lily Beetle Prevention Spray which has great results for strengthening and stimulating lily growth.

How do I get rid of the Lily Beetle?

We recommend using the Lily Beetle Prevention Spray. The key is to be vigilant and keep checking your foliage each day when you can.

Do Lilies multiply?

Lilies do multiply but if in containers will need lifting every 2 or 3 years as they will become pot bound. Lift the bulbs out of the soil and carefully pull off any attached bulblets. Replant the original bulbs. You can also plant the bulblets, but bare in mind these will take a couple of years to become established.

Are Lilies poisonous to cats and dogs?

Lilies are toxic to cats and dogs if consumed (like a lot of plants). Lilies should be kept out of reach of small children as well. Lily pollen is poisonous to cats and dogs but it has to be ingested. Cats/dogs are very clever animals and will very rarely eat anything they are unsure about. There are also numerous lilies now that are pollen free including our Roselilies and Double Oriental Lilies. If you’re worried then just nip the stamen out of the lily as it opens and avoid placing them where pets can brush past the stamen and get it on their fur.

Do I lift my Lily bulbs over winter?

Lilies do not like to be dried out, they must be kept in soil at all times. Lilies, in fact, like a cold dormant phase and are happy to stay out in the winter. If you are worried about leaving them out in the borders over winter, lift them and store them in peat until replanting the following spring. A good tip is to tilt your pots on their sides over winter, lifting them upright again in the spring, preventing them becoming waterlogged.

Keep Positive And Get Out In Your Garden

Featured

We hope you are all keeping safe and well during these uncertain times and making the most of this glorious weather we are having. We are using this time away from the shows to bring you some videos to watch in the comfort of your own home. We will try and bring you some light-hearted entertainment on how to look after your lilies and other summer flowering bulbs over the coming months. 

Hopefully, with the weather improving now, it’s a great time to spend in the garden! We’re relying more and more on the soothing effect of gardening to
keep us busy and happy. Check out our offers below! 

Happy Gardening! 
The Harts

Great planting tips and promotions on lilies

Pat shows us how to:
Plant your Oriental Trumpet lilies in pots. Remember well-drained soil, and cover with 6 inches of soil over the top of the bulbs. 

https://www.hartsnursery.co.uk/Robina-harts10291.html

Plant and protect your Gloriosa Bulbs, special promotion! Buy 3 get 3 FREE!! for £10!

https://www.hartsnursery.co.uk/Gloriosa-Pack-of-3-Bulbs.html

Lily Beetle Repellent

Have you got your Lily Beetle Prevention? These little pests will be starting to come out now, try our fab prevention spray to keep them from destroying your Lily and Fritillaria foliage.

https://www.hartsnursery.co.uk/Lily-Beetle-Prevention.html
Lily Beetle Prevention Spray £6.95

Caring for lily bulbs over winter

This question was asked by
Merilyn Ainley –

I bought some lily bulbs from you this year. Some went in the ground some in pots.
Do I cut the ones in the ground right ground to over winter and do they need covering?
What do I do with the ones in tubs? Do they need separating and repotting now and where do I put them over the winter? Do they need watering over winter?
Thank you

Hi Merylin

You can find all planting and care instructions on every product page on our website. Here are some key tips for caring for your lily bulbs:

When the Lily has finished flowering, cut any seed heads back and allow the foliage to die back naturally. Do not be tempted to cut the stem back until stems becomes hollow and brown.
Lilies like a cold dormant phase throughout winter so they do not need lifting or protecting. Do ensure they have adequate drainage so they don’t get waterlogged as this will cause the bulbs to rot.
If planting in pots, it may be an idea to tilt the pots on their side in the winter to prevent waterlog.
After a few years of flowering, you may find your lilies produce less blooms, it may be time to lift your bulbs and divide them by breaking off the bulblets. All the bulbs will then need replanting.

You can feed your lilies with a Tomato Feed to stimulate and strengthen your lilies when you start to see signs of growth. Make up your tomato feed with half the recommended dilution (written on the instructions on the bottle) and feed once every 3 weeks.

LILIES

The Hart Family

Estimate of the delivery cost to France of my order

This question was asked by
Nathalie L –

Good Afternoon, I selected lilies and would like to order them. But I can\’t finalise my order because of the non possibility to estimate the delivery costs to France. All my thanks for confirming the delivery costs in order to be able to finalise the order.
Best regards, Nathalie

HI Nathalie

Unfortunately, We can’t take any international orders at the moment as we are uncertain of what Brexit will bring. As soon as we know of any deal, we will update our website/prices accordingly.

The Hart Family

Daffodils for long flowering display

This question was asked by
David B – 

I could do with about 500 bulbs, different varieties, but split across the flowering time, so we get the longest display.

What can you do?

Hi David

We now have a new sear engine on our website where you can filter the varieties by flowering month. So you could enter May and choose which ones you like, then April and so forth.
Narcissi

I would suggest the following:

March Flowering:

Narcissus ‘Replete’ (Pack of 20 Bulbs) (harts1137121)

Narcissus ‘Dutch Master’ (Pack of 20 Bulbs) (harts113711)

April Flowering:

Narcissus ‘Tahiti’ (Pack of 20 Bulbs) (harts11371)

Narcissus ‘My Story’ (Pack of 15 Bulbs) (harts113712212)

May Flowering:

Narcissus ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ (Pack of 20 Bulbs) (harts1150)

The Hart Family

How to get lilies to flower

This question was asked by
Rosemary C – 

Hello,
Late last spring I planted three varieties of Asiatic lily in two lily pots with general purpose compost. The ‘Delicate Joy’ and ‘Flore Pleno’ bulbs flowered beautifully, but neither of the two ‘Scoubidou’ bulbs produced any flowers at all, yet the stem and leaf growth was strong. Any advice on how I might get them to flower next year?
Many thanks.

Hi Rosemary

As long as there was plenty of foliage the bulbs are nice and healthy. You can give them a diluted tomato feed to help them on their their way.

Make up your tomato feed with half the recommended dilution (written on the instructions on the bottle) and feed once every 3 weeks.

The Hart Family

Magnificent Asiatic Lilies

This question was asked by
Mary C – 

I bought some Asiatic Lily bulbs from you in the Spring. I planted them in pots and they were absolutely magnificent after an initial worry that they were not going to flower. You assured me that they would! Some of them were over 5 foot tall. My query now is can I leave the lilies in the pots in which I planted them in the spring or do I need to take them out, dry them off and store them for next year. Thank you.

Hi Mary
That’s fantastic to hear!
Yes leave the bulbs in the pots. You can cut off the seed heads and leave everything to die back naturally. Once the foliage and stem has turned yellow/brown, they can be removed. Ensure the bulbs don’t get too wet but they like a cold dormant phase and can remain outside during the winter.

The Hart Family

Alliums Need to go in pot (whiskey barrel)

This question was asked by
Debbie W – 

Need help with number of bulbs – don’t want them too tall.
Late spring to Early Summer.
Colours blue purple.

HI Debbie

You mention Alliums for potting up into a Whiskey Barrel – some alliums can be quite tall. I would suggest using our filter search at the top of the Allium page and opting for the Low or Medium Heights. This will then show you all the varieties that are not too tall.

Are you wanted to plant other bulbs as well? You can do this by layering your planting. We have more information on our website on how to layer your planting here.

With regards to the number of bulbs, it really depends on the size of the barrel and the size/height of the bulbs you would like to have. For a more fuller and mixed arrangement, I would advise starting with the following:

1 x Pack of Allium Rosy Dream (10 Bulbs)
1 x Pack of Hyacinth Paul Herman (6 Bulbs)
1 x Pack of Muscari Marleen (20 Bulbs)

The Hart Family

Delivery in February

This question was asked by
Laurence F –

I was about to check out but see delivery is in February. I would like my order now as the beds are prepared, is this possible?

HI Laurence

It depends what you are ordering – if you are ordering Autumn planted bulbs then they are dispatched now. If it’s Spring planted bulbs including lilies, then they are sent in February ready for planting,
You can find all bulbs that are ready for planting now here:

AUTUMN PLANTED BULBS

The Hart Family

Nerines –

This question was asked by
Roberts – 

When do I divide nerines?

Good morning,
You do not need to divide Nerine bulbs as they prefer to become quite congested and grow in clumps. Also, Nerines do not like to be disturbed so establish a decent position from the off and avoid moving them.
Protect in very cold areas with a mulch over winter.
Hope this helps. Further instructions on planting and caring for Nerines can be found on each product page:

Nerine

The Hart Family

Dwarf tulip to go go with Estella Rynveld

This question was asked by
Eileen R –

I need a dwarf tulip to complement Estella Rynveld. What do you suggest and do you have it in stock?

Hello there

We have the following dwarf tulips that I think would work very well with Estella Rynveld:
Tulip Heart’s Delight (harts11402)
Tulip ‘Concerto’ (harts11401)

Or for a bolder contrast:
Tulip ‘Stresa’ (SKU1762111)

The Hart Family

Tree lily purchase

This question was asked by
Dave W – 

When would be the best time of year to purchase some tree lilies from you?

Hi Dave

You can pre-order your tree lilies from us now to guarantee you get the varieties you would like incase we sell out. However, these won’t be dispatched until the spring when they need planting.

Tree-like Lilies

The Hart Family