Bulbs forum: Fritillaries and the Lily Beetle

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Name: Debbie
Manitoba, Canada (Zone 3a)
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DebbieC
Jan 6, 2016 8:22 AM CST
I would like to add some Frittilaria to my garden, particularly Meleagris, but understand that they are favoured by the Lily Beetle. Since I removed most of my lilies due to this scourge, I am reluctant. Is there anyone growing these that has this problem?
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
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William
Jan 6, 2016 10:26 AM CST
I use Fritillaria imperialis as a capture plant in the spring. The Lily Beetle's love them so much that they will hardly touch my lilies at this time of the year, with the exception of my 'Lankon' lilies that also seems very attractive. It saves me a lot of time as I don't need to inspect my lilies as much at this busy time of the year. So on the one hand I'd highly recommend planting some to protect the foliage of your remaining lilies, but on the other hand I'd strongly advice not to plant them, if you want to avoid the beetle all together.

I have had little success in growing Fritillaria meleagris in the past, so can't say how attractive these are to the lily beetles. I have however planted some this autumn and could perhaps report back later on, if I succeed with these (I suspect the bulbs were a bit too dry so may be another failure). The problem here is that even if they do emerge I have the Fritillaria imperialis that probably will attract a majority of the beetles. Even if Fritillaria meleagris manages to remain unharmed the result may not be representative. For what it's worth I've read reports about people having both terrible problems with beetles on Fritillaria meleagris, while others have had less problems. My own assumption is that they probably will go for them at least if they have depleted other food sources Sad .
Name: Debbie
Manitoba, Canada (Zone 3a)
Hostas Cat Lover Annuals Bulbs Container Gardener Critters Allowed
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Houseplants Foliage Fan Butterflies Bee Lover Native Plants and Wildflowers
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DebbieC
Jan 6, 2016 2:41 PM CST
Thanks William, certainly gives me some food for thought! I think the beetles are here to stay regardless of planting the frittilary, so maybe using them as a capture plant is something to consider. I still have my Martagons that I treasure and up to now have been relatively spared ( in part I think to their situation in more shaded areas of the property), but also a few remnants of asiatics and oriental/ trumpets that have survived the 'big cull' and that I would like keep. I've never tried Crown Imperials due to hardiness issues.
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
Jan 6, 2016 4:16 PM CST
Good observation about the Martagon lilies, Debbie. It comes in handy as I for the first time planted some Martagons this autumn and I feel that it helps to know the 'enemy' so to speak as one need to concentrate the picking and crushing efforts where it's most effective. Those Lily Beetles do love to sunbath in the spring, so it makes much sense that the more shaded placement would help to protect them some.

When we got the Lily Beetle here many years ago, we just simply gave up and stopped growing lilies altogether - it wasn't a huge loss as we didn't have many to start with (and a few of 'Stargazer's managed to survive pretty much on their own, but now I'm back as I simply couldn't help myself - I was suckered in reading about 'tree lilies' lol. However we don't have many gardening neighbors (certainly not many that grows lilies) and I believe that helps a lot as in the end one pretty much have to deal with their Lily Beetles as well Sad .

I'm afraid I didn't look at your zone before. Growing Crown Imperials where you are would involve extra steps and perhaps not be worth it in the end. A pity as they do work really well as a capture crop.

Do you grow any LA lilies? In my garden they seem to be preferred food later on in the summer, but not completely sure about this yet as the observation needs to be repeated a few years more. I was thinking that this had to do with them having L. longiflorum in their "blood" and if so it would be consistent with my observations about 'Lankon' being extra delicious as it also has L. longiflorum heritage. At any rate it's not as good a capture crop as the Crown Imperial, but still I find it interesting and in the end perhaps useful as well.


Name: Debbie
Manitoba, Canada (Zone 3a)
Hostas Cat Lover Annuals Bulbs Container Gardener Critters Allowed
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DebbieC
Jan 6, 2016 5:00 PM CST
I did have some LA's: Suncrest, Madrid, Brindisi, Royal Sunset and a few others I can't recall at the moment. They were pretty decimated so you may be on the right track with your theory. It certainly did seem that some were more "tasty" to the beetle than others. I still have a small clump of Royal Sunset, missed digging a few bulbs I suppose. On the Prairies where I live the lily was "the" plant along with the Peony so it has been devastating for gardeners here. We never thought that asiatic beetle would survive our brutal winters; boy were we wrong!
I looked up your Laukon Lily- it's a beautiful one! I can definitely understand getting suckered back in, especially now that some are saying the beetle is declining-?maybe cyclical? It was very difficult digging out those lilies that's for sure.
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
Apr 30, 2016 3:47 AM CST
Fritillaria meleagris is in bloom and so far has had no issues with the lily beetle at all. That's good... but the problem for your question @DebbieC , is that I haven't observed a single lily beetle this year on anything - possibly it's still too cold as I highly doubt I killed them all last year. So sadly can't draw any conclusions, but will continue to observe them and report back if I see something.

I can speculate that how much the beetle likes them, may very well be related to how much sun the plants get and the temperature when they bloom. The beetles do prefer a sunny, warm spot in spring. So different planting positions and weather could perhaps give different results, even in the same garden.
Name: Gary
Wyoming MN (Zone 4a)
hostasmore
Apr 30, 2016 6:33 PM CST
Martagons are supposed to have some deer resistance, wondering if this might also have some limitations on the lily beetles desire for them? I don't have any issues with the fragrance of martagons, but it is sure not floral.

Fritillaria meleagris does well for me here in my zone. I only tried imperialis once and it didn't return after the first year.
Name: Debbie
Manitoba, Canada (Zone 3a)
Hostas Cat Lover Annuals Bulbs Container Gardener Critters Allowed
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Houseplants Foliage Fan Butterflies Bee Lover Native Plants and Wildflowers
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DebbieC
Apr 30, 2016 8:05 PM CST
@William, I haven't seen any beetles yet, but a gardening friend has. Our daytime temps have improved, but nighttime temps are still hovering around 0 C. Hopefully you will see few or none this year; wouldn't that be great! Thank you for your observations and updates.
@hostamore, interesting ; I wasn't aware that Martagons had a fragrance. Guess I've never given them a good sniff! Good to know they are not a prime choice for deer, although I've not had an issue with them in my yard. (touch wood!)
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
May 1, 2016 2:21 PM CST
I only had to mention that I hadn't seen any and here they are now - the lily beetles are back after a long winter nap. Picked two on the F. imperialis and one on the martagons and there has been no lilies in that spot in the past, so looks like it made an active choice to go for it. That particular group of martagons are in a warmer spot than most of them, so this may have made a difference. For now, martagons will need to go on my watch list for lily beetles.The Fritillaria meleagris is however still unharmed Hurray! .
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
May 6, 2016 12:37 PM CST
I was just thinking today that the foliage of Fritillaria meleagris doesn't really seem to offer much protection as compared to the lily shoots that are pretty dense with foliage this time of year. I just have a hard time to see why the lily beetles would go for Fritillaria meleagris over lilies, given a choice. In addition they bloom rather early and most plants are most nutritious right up to bloom, so could loose its appeal to lily beetles quickly.

I captured three more lily beetles on the Martagons today. I don't think this necessarily contradicts that Martagon lilies are less attractive to beetles, rather I think these might have flown in from some neighbors and the Martagons are simply the first food source the beetle encounters in the garden here. All other beetles has been on the OT lilies that had an infestation last year and I know I missed a few of them, so these are "my own" beetles emerging in the warm weather we are having now. They just start to chew on what's closest to them as they wake up. Fritillaria imperialis doesn't work as a capture crop in this case as the beetles are already where they are happy.


Name: Steve
Millbury, MA (Zone 5b)
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steve_mass
May 7, 2016 6:36 AM CST
If you only have a few beetles hand picking early will do the trick. Last year I pulled 36 beetles in one day off of a single plant of L. Siberica. So I went to Neem. Neem dries up all of the larvae (you have to get the underside of the leaves) and it tends to repel the adults. You have to repeat the treatment at least once after 7-10 days to get those larvae that recently hatched. The Neem treatment saved that L. Siberica from being totally stripped of its leaves.

Steve

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