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

Choosing lilies

This question was asked by
Paul B

Hi could you help me select Lilies Longiflorum and advise which are autumn and which are Spring planters and general welfare advice.
Many thanks , Paul

Hi Paul

The only lily we have for planting in the Autumn is the Madonna Lily as this is a slightly earlier flowering Lily.

All the other lilies we have, will be dispatched in February ready for planting,

All lilies are easy to grow. The hybrid lilies are the easiest as they like any soil type as are the Longiflorum Lily Bulbs, which are lime tolerant and therefore suitable for borders or pots in either Alkaline or Acidic soils that are well drained.

All our Longiflorum Lilies are white and carry a gorgeous fragrance.

Longiflorum Lilies

Lilium Candidum (Madonna Lily)

The Hart Family

flame lily tubers

This question was asked by
Martin

To whom it may concern.

I would be very grateful for your advice, please.

Months ago you kindly sent me some Flame Lily tubers…to great success…the flowers are breathtaking!

Once the flowers are over and the leaves dried down…how should I look after the tubers with a view to growing more again next year? (Assuming that they do
flower a second time)

Best Wishes

Martin

Good afternoon,
After your Gloriosa has finished flowering for the season, leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future.
Leaves and stalks may be removed when they yellow.
Gloriosa Lily Bulbs don’t like to get too cold, therefore if the temperature drops to -7 degrees, you’ll need to lift Gloriosa lily bulbs and store them indoors in ever so slightly damp peat moss. Or you can just replace them next spring for another year of winged blooms.
Your Gloriosa lilies will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle in the spring/summer.
TAKE CARE NOT to touch the growing points on the bulbs; bumping and abraiding this area tends to reduce sprouting.

The Hart Family

My lilies have been infected with lily bug

This question was asked by
Clare J

Dear Harts Nursery,
My lilies have been infected with lily bug. Can I save them from this or do I need to throw them away? They have finished flowering but the bugs are still laying eggs on the leaves. 🙁
The flowers were BEAUTIFUL until the bugs infected the plant.

Hi Clare

They will be fine for next year so don’t throw them. The key is to be vigilant and keep wiping off the eggs and faeces (a brown yucky mess that contains the eggs to start with). If you can, try using the Lily Beetle Prevention spray but you need to spray constantly during active growth periods especially after rainfall and watering. You can also make a garlic solution spray with crushed garlic and water. If you grow fritillaria, you will need to spray and check them also.

Lily Beetle Prevention Spray (SKU17972)

The Hart Family

Begonias

This question was asked by
Peter Blick

On your site you offer 15 begonia corms for £12.50 and 5 colours.
Do they come packed in separate colours to allow them to be planted say 3 pink in a basket?

Hi Peter
They are a pre-mixed bag at a discounted price.

Begonia

The Hart Family

Query on delivery of Eucomis

This question was asked by
Rob H

Hello. I was just looking to find out when my order of Eucomis may be delivered. Thanks. Kind regards. Rob

Hello there
Your Eucomis need planting in the spring so they will dispatched out to you in February.

The Hart Family

Oriental Lilies

This question was asked by
Joan S

Could you advise me how to treat Oriental lilies grown in containers when they have finished flowering please?

Regards.
Joan

How to care for Oriental Lilies

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 the winter so they don’t need lifting. However, do ensure they have adequate drainage and do not 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.
You can feed your lilies with a Tomato Feed to stimulate and strengthen your lilies when you start to see signs of growth for the spring. Make up your tomato feed with half the recommended dilution (written on the instructions on the bottle) and feed once every 3 weeks.

Oriental Lilies

The Hart Family

Planting tulip bulbs

This question was asked by
Wanda

Good morning,
I received my tulip bulbs ordered earlier this year, thank you.
It seems that the recommended time for planting them is October/ November. I live in Kent and it’s still quite warm here (next week we’ll have a mini heatwave for 2 days…) What would you recommend? Is it ok to wait until October to plant them? If yes, can I store the bulbs in their original packaging? Or, is it ok to plant them now?
Kind regards, Wanda

Hi Wanda

We advise planting tulips after the first frosts to kill off any virus in the soil.
You can keep the tulips in their packaging in a cool dark place where they won’t get wet at all.
Hope this helps.

The Hart Family

Purchasing Arsenal Lilies

This question was asked by
Christine W

Hi would you be able to email me when you get the Arsenal lily back in stock please.
Regards
Christine

Unfortunately, I don’t think this one will be available again.

Have you seen Delicate Joy or Heartstrings? These are quite similar to Lilium Arsenal.

Lily ‘Delicate Joy’ (SKU17647)

Lily ‘Heartstrings’ (SKU17739)

The Hart Family

Giant and martagon lilies

This question was asked by
Sheila C

These are out of stock at the moment. When will you have them in again for planting next year, please?

Hi Sheila

Everything we will have for next year is available to pre-order now:

Tree-like Lilies

Martagon Lilies

The Hart Family

BIG THANK YOU

This question was asked by
Mr andrew S

just to say a big thank you for your service just had some of my tulip bulbs delivered great size some lillies i ordered in june are in full bud and should have some late flowering lillies thanks for a great service due these trying times

HI Andrew
You’re very welcome. Thank you so much for your kind words. It really means a lot in the current circumstances.
Take care.

The Hart Family