Lily FAQ

What are the optimum growing requirements for lilies?

Lilies grow best in a full sun and well-drained soil.  Prepare the soil for your new bulbs by mixing in a liberal amount of a high-grade compost and add a good low-nitrogen fertilizer.  A balanced organic fertilizer added once in May and once right after bloom will slowly release the nutrients as the bulbs require them.  Lilies like a neutral to slightly acid soil.  If your soil is quite alkaline (pH of 7.5 or above), adding a sulphur-based amendment with chelated iron may be helpful.


What pests or diseases may affect my lilies?

Most lilies are quite resistant to both insect pests and fungal diseases.  The most devastating pest, the lily leaf beetle, has yet to make an appearance in Montana, so we'll continue to work toward keeping it beyond our borders.  Sometimes, aphids may become a problem, and the main reason you'll want to limit them is because they can spread viruses from plant to plant.  A good organic soap or pyrethrin-based spray will generally control their population.  Botrytis is a fungal disease that can affect lilies, particularly during cold wet springs; it leaves unsightly black spots on the foliage.  The best prevention is to water only when necessary and use drip irrigation if possible.  Also, cutting back all dormant foliage in the fall and burning it will help prevent the disease from overwintering.  Finally, there are organic sprays, either neem oil or bacterial-based, that can effectively limit the spread of botrytis.


What is an Orienpet lily?

An Orienpet lily is a cross between a trumpet and Oriental lily.  Many of these hybrids have proven to be hardier, more heat resistant, and more widely adapted than either parent.  Sometimes referred to as “tree lilies,” Orienpets, in fact, are no different than any other lily, but do often resemble small trees because of their height and very thick stems.  These lilies generally have very large fragrant flowers.  Orienpets, particularly those that I offer, have proven themselves to be hardy even on the Canadian prairies; however,  I recommend, after the ground freezes in late fall, covering them with a loose winter mulch such as evergreen boughs, coarse wood chips, or straw; it would be a shame to risk losing even one of these gorgeous lilies. 


What are Asiatic lilies?

Asiatic lilies are the hardiest of all lilies and very reliable in Montana and similar climates.  These lilies come in many different colors and forms, but are rarely fragrant.  Asiatics are excellent growers and will generally reproduce freely after residing for a few years in your garden.


Do lilies make good cut flowers?

Lilies make excellent cut flowers.  If cut when the first bud is about to open, one lily stem will often bloom for two weeks or longer.  An especially fine cut flower lily is the L.A. (longiflorum-Asiatic) hybrid.  This type of lily generally has very large flowers with heavy substance and sometimes a light pleasant fragrance due to its Easter lily parentage.


Do lilies grow well in pots?

Many lilies make an excellent pot plant, particularly shorter stockier varieties such as Conca D' Or.  The pots will, however, need to be planted down in the ground in the fall if you plan to try to overwinter them for the next season.


What is a Hall of Fame lily?

Each year members of the North American Lily Society choose their ten favorite  lilies in a popularity poll.  Once a lily has been chosen for more than ten years, it achieves Hall of Fame status.  These lilies are an excellent first choice to consider when selecting varieties for your own garden.

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