Lilies forum: Stargazer Lily Bulbs- Dead or Alive???

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Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
May 7, 2015 2:08 PM CST
Hi All,

First time planting these. I purchased the bulbs at a big box store several months ago and stored them in a cool basement. I took them out today to plant and the roots were dry and the bulbs were soft but still firm. Not mushy, but just soft and white inside. Some outer parts were darkened a bit. Are these bulbs supposed to be hard? Will these softies grow? I went ahead and planted them anyway just to see what will happened. Thoughts? I'm feeling pretty iffy about this. Thanks!
[Last edited by AnnofPA - May 7, 2015 2:10 PM (+)]
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Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
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William
May 7, 2015 4:15 PM CST
A lily bulb ideally should feel heavy and quite hard. Yours are soft because they are a bit dehydrated. This is of course stressful for the lily and it will probably perform a bit worse for this year, but on the other hand it is rather difficult to kill a lilly. It wants nothing more than to grow Smiling . An extremely stressed lily could skip blooming or it could even break down into several new 'babies', but death as such is rare. Because they are sensitive to drying out lily bulbs are usually stored in peat over the winter. They don't like to be out of the soil for long.

The outer scales are probably darkened a bit from the handling. Bulbs are lifted in Holland, graded for size and cleaned in preparation for export, so this will give a few bruises.

You don't mention anything about the bulbs having long sprouts? Very long sprouts would have indicated a bit more stress, so if in fact your bulbs have minimal sprouts or none at all, it could actually be reasonably healthy. Hard to know without actually having seen the bulbs, but in short I think they will be OK.

Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
May 7, 2015 4:54 PM CST
Thanks William! Your post makes me feel better about the situation. I do hope they flower this year.

I thought about taking pics, but it was at the end of a long hot gardening day and I just wanted to get them in the ground. There were no sprouts btw. They were stored in their original packaging which included peat, but obviously they still dried out. I had been told in another forum initially to leave them in the packaging and not moisten the peat.

Would it have helped to soak them prior to planting? Or just best to plant?

Welcome to the forum! And thanks again for your reply!
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
May 7, 2015 6:18 PM CST
AnnofPA said:I had been told in another forum initially to leave them in the packaging and not moisten the peat.

This is correct.

Would it have helped to soak them prior to planting? Or just best to plant?

It will take longer for the bulb to rehydrate in the soil, but that is the right thing to do. Soaking them can lead to bad infections.
Name: Jason
Gold Bar, Washington (Zone 8b)
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riverman123
May 7, 2015 8:51 PM CST
seems they ended up getting a little weak while in the bag for so long. not a big deal; they all should be fine, I would think. try to get them in the ground ASAP. William had some good advice. they may appear to be a little small this first year due to their condition out of the package, but they'll need to use this years foliage to grow the bulb and store up energy. plant them with some good organic bulb/flower food. one tablespoon per bulb is about right. if they flower, fertilize them again once the flowers fall off. being weak out of the bag and being as how its already the 7th of may, they're gonna need all the strength they can muster before going dormant. but don't be surprised of you see a good amount of flowers as well! post pics, let us know how they worked out!
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
May 8, 2015 4:21 AM CST
Ann: How about this for a solution. Go out and buy a fresh bag of Star Gazer bulbs now. I just saw some yesterday at an outdoor garden center and they were marked down 50% off. They were large, solid and heavy and looked real good. And since bulbs purchased in the spring have been preconditioned with the required winter chill period, you'd be assured of having a good show of flowers this summer. Sure, they'll bloom a little later than usual, but sometimes that can be a good thing, especially if you have several other lilies and want to extend your 'lily season'. And, it's not too late to plant; bulbs planted now will have no problem at all having a good growing season in preparation for next season. In fact, I have several I haven't planted yet and I'm not the least bit concerned. Concerning your dehydrated bulbs you just planted, keep your fingers crossed, hope for the best, and see what happens. Sometimes, when a bulb becomes severely dehydrated or stressed, it senses it doesn't have enough energy reserve to grow a plant, it won't. It, the bulb, will sit an entire summer in a semi dormant state called 'sulking' just to regain strength and then grow normally the following year. So, if yours doesn't come up this year, wait until next year before you start any digging. Smiling
Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
May 8, 2015 4:46 AM CST
Thanks Everyone!

I did think about buying new bulbs, but figured they'll be the same bulbs I purchased months ago and possibly in worse conditions in the warm stores. I'll keep my eye out though.

Am I planting late? When should I have planted these in zone 6? I had read 2 weeks before the last frost, so I guess I am a week late. We had such a cold beginning to spring, I doubt the soil was very warm to plant earlier.

Do I water these regularly prior to growth or wait until(if) I see growth?

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patweppler
May 8, 2015 4:54 AM CST
I am still planting here in Zone 5. I suspect that I will have some late bloomers here too. A lot of the fall planted bulbs have not even peaked through the ground yet....
You will have a later bloom but that is all and next year in the ground they will right themselves to the correct time for blooming
I read somewhere that you can plant lilies for quite awhile into the year....
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
May 8, 2015 5:12 AM CST
Ann, if you watered them in well when you planted them, then don't need water again until you see growth. And you are not planting late, by any means. Actually, you can plant lily bulbs anytime you can work the ground. It's just that sometimes are a little more favorable than others; the spring and the fall being the best.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
May 8, 2015 6:00 AM CST
Ann, in zone 6, Pittsburgh area anytime from April 15th to May 15th would be optimal for planting lily bulbs during the spring. In the Fall, the entire month of October. So, your planting time above was just fine.

By the way, the bulbs on the shelves now are not the same as the ones you purchased months ago. The lily bulbs sold in the spring for spring planting were only recently pulled from the growers coolers which gave them the required winter chill to get them ready for spring planting. They would be 'fresh' stock.
[Last edited by Roosterlorn - May 8, 2015 6:07 AM (+)]
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Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Joebass
May 8, 2015 6:06 AM CST
I agree with Lorn's statement completely. Anytime you can work the soil and get them watered is a good time. The longer the bulb has to adjust to its new soil and rehydrate really helps before it puts up a stem. I always prefer to plant in the fall but really the earlier you can put it in the ground the better.
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
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William
May 8, 2015 10:17 AM CST
Thanks for the welcome, Ann .

And I'm very happy to hear that your bulbs were in peat and still had no sprouts Smiling . Sounds great.
This actually makes them seem better than 98% of the bulbs you see in stores here in Sweden.
Here they are usually sold in a bag of wood shavings, hanged up to dry until the sprouts are 2-4 inches long and then they are sold at a discount to a happy (or perhaps not so happy customer) Thumbs down . Still in the end they usually grow anyway.
Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
May 8, 2015 5:49 PM CST
Thank you All for the support and valuable information! It's sometimes difficult to piece together proper information for a particular situation by googling. Now I just hope I chose a proper planting location. Time will tell!

William, Why do you think you receive bulbs in that condition? You're certainly closer to the source.
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
May 8, 2015 11:44 PM CST
Ann, this is going to be more or less speculation, but I think the issues with lily bulb quality here has nothing to do with distance, but more about a lack of interest for lilies, because of the lily beetle. Also we are a small country and there are low volumes and little competition. So lilies are often bought pre-packed from Dutch sellers and shipped in ordinary trucks, without cooling. I have found one seller that buys in bulk and repacks themself, in fact claiming that they let them stay in cold storage in Holland for as long as possible and these bulbs are quite a bit better, but still not always excellent and they can be a bit dehydrated with long sprouts.

In the US on the other hand it would make more sense to buy lilies in a container and these have cooling facilities, so you could basically ship them anywhere in the world and the quality would still be basically as good (or bad) as when it was shipped. In a large country there is going to be more competition, and there is also (sometimes) going to be more competent staff handling the import and putting demands on the seller to deliver quality bulbs. Also of course you have your local lily growers providing even better quality. So the chance to find bulbs of all levels of quality, from 'this bag makes me cry' to 'wow I didn't know lily bulbs could grow this large or be this healthy' should theoretically be much better.

In contrast I have gotten very good and very large bulbs when buying Dutch bulbs from the UK from a specialist or directly from mail order companies in the Netherlands. These bulbs are delivered fresh from cold storage, most often packed in peat and those guys obviously knows whom to buy from and whom to avoid.






[Last edited by William - May 8, 2015 11:45 PM (+)]
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Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
May 9, 2015 8:29 AM CST
Thanks, William, for the interesting reply. It's good you found alternative venues for healthy bulbs. Happy growing!

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