Growing Lilies is rewarding and they make attractive additions to the early summer garden. Tall varieties are suitable for the border although some might grow well in pots too. Shorter varieties are brilliant on pots on the patio.
Lilies are hardy but hate wet feet. If you garden soil pools with water after heavy rain and is also slow to drain growing in pots may be worthwhile even f it’s until the soil has drained as spring finishes. In heavy soils that stay wet it is worth incorporating horticultural grit or grit sand in to the border planting holes. Lilies should be plants 5″ (13cm) deep. for heavy soil dig a hole deeper (8-10″ / 20-25cm) and sit the lily on a bed of grit or grit sand. Infill around and above the bulb with some of your sol including at least 25% of the same grit or grit sand.
Taller varieties may need the support of garden canes. Tree Lilies are very tall, usually take 2 or 3 years to grow to their full height. They will benefit from the support of other border plants. Plant at the rear of borders
After flowering, remove the faded flowers leaving the stem in place. Removing the flowers prevents seed from forming. This will ensure that the bulb receives nutrient and produce next years flowers. Feed them at the same time with a high potash feed to encourage more flowers. in the border apply rose food to the soil surface. In pots, feed with soluble high potash food as instructed in the pack. See our page on High Potash Food for more info.
Lilies may need regular watering during summer in your border. It will be essential when growing in pots and containers. Lilies flower for 4-6 weeks. Removing fading flowers including the seed pods will ensure they flower for the longest time. After flowering leave the stems in place as they will build the flower bulb up for next year’s flowers. Feed with a high potash food to encourage flower bud production. Once the leaves have turned yellow in autumn cut the stems of just above the soil level. Don’t pull them as you may pull the bulb out of the ground or pot. In very wet soils you can lift the bulbs and store them in paper bags over winter. Lilies grown in pots can stay there for many years with repotting when they become tight in the pot.
Lilies occasionally suffer from leaf diseases. At the first signs spray with a fungicide.
The bigger pest is Lily Beetle. This red shiny beetle attacks the stems and leaves of the Lily and can kill them if not dealt with. The beetle lays eggs that hatch into a grub the protects itself with its own faeces – nice. Spraying with a ready mixed insecticide organic or non-organic should control them if you attack them at first signs. They appear from April to mid summer so stay alert and pick the adults off and stamp on them when you see them will reduce or prevent them being a nuisance.
Lilies are poisonous to cats.