Lilies forum: Trying to understand the rooting process of L .martagon and its hybrids better

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Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
Feb 10, 2016 7:06 PM CST
Last Autumn in Late September, first half of October, I planted my very first martagon lilies or actually it was mostly martagon hybrids. I bought from three different vendors.
Two of these batches where very good, but unfortunately I was also tempted by a lower than it should be price from a third vendor... However these were very dehydrated when they arrived with dead roots and not in great shape, so in that sense I got what I payed for.

Naturally I was a bit disappointed, especially as I had gotten reasonable lilies from this vendor in the past. But as they weren't bad enough to complain about for the price I went ahead and planted them after removing some of the worst scales. Much later I dug down beside one of the worst bulbs and noticed that the bulb looked firm and had hydrated. This was excellent, but it also didn't look like it had any interest in sending out any new roots.

I read that martagon lilies should best be moved when in full bloom. Is this true and if so I also wonder if this is because they send out basal roots at that time? If they do start to grow basal roots that early, when do they stop?

I also read that the reason martagon lilies sometimes sprout in the spring just to suddenly die back is because they haven't rooted properly and therefore can't sustain the foliage?

So any thought on this would be much welcomed Smiling




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
Feb 13, 2016 4:02 PM CST
>>>I read that martagon lilies should best be moved when in full bloom.

Martagons seem to just take a lot longer to grow roots than most other lilies. And since annual stem roots are neglegible, martagons depend on basal roots for sustenance more than most lilies, too. It's likely you read that the best time is right after flowering, not during flowering. This is what Gene Fox writes in his book on martagons. He doesn't claim that this is the necessarily the best time for root growth, but rather, states that transplanting at this stage allows the time necessary for root re-establishment before winter. I have not seen any information that points to a specific time for martagon roots are more active, as there is for trilliums or crested iris, or some other types of plants, for instance. But, that doesn’t mean there is or is not a specific time for major martagon root growth. I just don’t know. However, I will say that it is not like some plants (i.e. daffodills or fritillaria), where root initiation only happens at certain times. For these plants, if that time is past, nothing can spur root gorwth. Martagons are definitely not that picky.

Of course, transplanting during active growth (like after flowering), means that greater care must be taken, in an attempt to keep the foliage alive and well. If however, the foliage does dieback because of transplant shock, that plant would still probably do better the following year, compare to if it was dug in the fall. Especially lilies of the martagon section (Ll. martagon, distichum, medeoloides, tsingtauense, hansonii), bulbs continue to grow underground even without any leaves above.

>>>I also read that the reason martagon lilies sometimes sprout in the spring just to suddenly die back is because they haven't rooted properly and therefore can't sustain the foliage?

That is the most common reason, and it can also be true of many other kinds of Lilium species and hybrids, too, not just martagons. Although, it does happen with martagons more often, simply because of the nature of the species.
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
Feb 13, 2016 6:58 PM CST
That would be "A1 Martagons by E.E.Fox"? Unfortunately I haven't read it. I have found very little info online, that's why I asked and as always I appreciate your input, Rick Thumbs up However what I did find was indeed referring to moving them in full bloom, but I don't think this would be a too critical distinction anyway? One of the sources was BD lilies: "Actually, the optimal time for moving a martagon is while it is in full bloom." http://www.bdlilies.com/martagon.html . Possibly the advantage of moving them after flowering would be to be able to enjoy the flowering outside more fully and that could be why it was recommended by Gene?

Doing a new search I did find a few interesting forum conversations elsewhere that I thought was interesting, perhaps also for others, but especially relevant to me as the experience here comes from my climate, the poster being from Sweden, although a bit further up north:

" I am 90% sure about Lilium martagon both start root formation when the first flowers start to fade."
http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=12573.20;wap2

"The problem with martagon and some of the relatives is that unless they have a good root system in the spring, they do not grow at all well and they need to complete that root system before the cold dormant (vernalisation) period. Of course in this case cold does not mean frozen but around 4°C and thereabouts."
http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=644.10;wap2

Interesting, but obviously can't assume that this is 100% accurate info, can't assume it applies to martagon hybrids either, but it's a place to start at least.

I have no intention of inspecting any of the other superb martagon bulbs I got and I'm unsure if observations about the dried up ones will be really relevant, but it will be interesting to compare growth results come spring. That is of course provided any of the bulbs survive until then Whistling If anything at all comes up from the bad bulbs, I may even cut the stems a bit short and see if that helps to balance the amount of foliage to a poor or completely absent root system.

Some good other info about martagons from you as well, Rick, thank you. Hopefully I won't need to move any martagons anytime soon, but I'm thinking that it would be wise to select a rather cool summer if one was going to move them anyway - I could see high temperatures as being a rather obvious problem.
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
Feb 13, 2016 9:35 PM CST
This is the book. I would say it's about A5 size.
Thumb of 2016-02-14/Leftwood/f96152

I read the section again on transplanting, and he does indeed say the optimal time is right after flowering, but never mentions anything about roots growing more at any particular time of year. He doesn't elaborate about the reasoning, only that it gives more time to acclimate to its new surroundings. He does say that this is not the only time, and that given the right care, martagons can be transplanted any time of year and will at least survive.

I agree with your thinking, William, though as you say, there is so much speculation.
For those who might want easier reading of those link (and with pics), they are here:
http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=12573.15

http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=644.msg15024#msg15...
I respect Göte and Leena. They are long time, knowledgeable contributors to that forum.

Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
William
Feb 14, 2016 4:03 AM CST
Thank You! You didn't have to go through so much trouble, Rick, but of course I'm very thankful for your research!

I was just rather lazily copying the name for the martagon book from the sales text at H.W.Hyde & Son. Not sure why they call it A1, but that's not important, it obviously is the same book. Saying that transplanting after flowering gives them more time to acclimate to their new surroundings, does at least imply that the time for them to settle in is somewhat limited.

Yes, much easier to read at those links you gave and I see that you were posting in one of those threads as well. A really small world sometimes, isn't it?



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
Feb 14, 2016 5:50 PM CST
A fellow member from that forum (SRGC) sent me L. papilliferum pollen to use on my one clone (and with success, too!).

No trouble at all going back to the book, as I was going from memory and I wanted to see if there was anything else written that would be pertinent that I didn't remember.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Feb 14, 2016 8:41 PM CST
This is a great informative discussion, especially to me since I just started gathering Martagons in 2014. Just to add a couple interesting lily history side notes, if I may. B&D referenced to moving Maragons when blooming. This must have been the 'IN THING' to do back in the late 70's, early 80's when making a hybrid selection. My dad would move his selections while near the end of blooming, claiming there was about a two week window. He did this with Asiatics, Orientals and Trumpets as well. Wheelbarrows full of blooming lilies bouncing up and down as they were transferred to their new location. Once transplanted, the flowerhead was removed. I don't remember ever seeing any yellowing of leaves even. While, I personally do not have experience yet with moving Martagons, I do have quite a bit of experience of moving others during late blooming (Asiatic, Trumpet, Oriental and their hybrids).

Now, for a little fun history. Bob Gibson's (B&D) first love with lilies was with Martagons and Species, a love he shared with close friend, Ed McRae. Most of us often think of Ed McRae as a great hybridizer and breeder of many fine commercial hybrids for the OREGON BULB FARM. He may have made his bread and butter that way, but his personal hobby and free time was with Martagons and Species. Bob Gibson had been growing Martagons and Species as a hobby long before B&D got started. It wasn't until John Shaver's heart attack and REX BULB FARMS going out of business that B&D came on board. Their original intent was to go all out in an anticipated growing market for Martigons and Species in North America as it had in Europe and considerable stock was built up.. But when that market didn't take off, B&D eventually took up where REX BULB FARMS left off.
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Mar 22, 2016 5:34 PM CST
I have finally had a Martagon Lily overwinter successfully, after several tries. This 'Guinea Gold' cultivar was planted using all the "wrong" techniques. I bought a sad shriveled up dead-looking tuber from a vendor at the end of a plant sale last June. It was the last one in a box, and I negotiated a price of $2 for it because it looked so bad. However the seller said it was likely to be fine. I stuck it in unimproved clay soil, on the east side of a hedge. It never sprouted last year, confirming the tale that they sometimes "take a year off" when planted. Now it is a foot tall, bushy and in perfect health! My prior attempts were made using better technique. Who knows what was different this time.
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
Mar 23, 2016 2:19 PM CST
Interesting! It may not have been the correct time for foliage, but it could have been the perfect time to grow new roots!!! I think the closeness to the hedge may be very helpful to improve drainage in your clay soil Smiling
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
Mar 23, 2016 8:12 PM CST
William said: I think the closeness to the hedge may be very helpful to improve drainage in your clay soil Smiling


Back about ten plus years ago when my garden was all heavy clay, experts were quite surprise that I was able to grow so many different species lilies there, even Ll. fargesii, papilliferum and majoense. Like you suggest, I figured the same reasoning because my garden was flanked by a hedge of old lilacs and a very large maple tree. They sucked out the excess moisture before it would become a problem for the lilies.

Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
Image
Pistil
Mar 24, 2016 1:09 PM CST
Maybe I will stop cursing the Escallonia hedge, which is quite ugly. Also, there is a very slight slope there, so water never pools. There are two very old Ceanothus trees nearby, possibly 30 years old, quite gnarly, so although clay, the soil must get dry enough!
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
William
Jul 10, 2016 4:46 AM CST
I thought I'd revisit this thread with some new thoughts and results.

In the best performing garden with cold, open shade and some morning and very late afternoon sun 'Claude Shride' and 'Maroon King' both gave 2 blooming stems. 'Manitoba Morning' gave 4!!! Foliage has been looking good the whole time as well. These were bulbs I bought from Guntis Grants. They were enormous with beautiful healthy roots. Others of his gave one nice stem. The bulbs I bought from HW Hyde did the next best. These were good sized with for the most part a reasonable root system. All bloomed, but the foliage looks a bit unhappier. Sold as 12+, none were as small as that.

What was interesting was the cheap Claude Shride bulbs. Sold as size 22+, some were larger than that and they were dehydrated, but otherwise OK, but no roots. I planted 2 in the mentioned garden and both bloomed with a good stem. However the remaining 8 was planted in a bed that is a bit warmer, particularly in the afternoon and a bit drier. Of these only 2 managed two bloom and the rest aborted prior to bloom. This is only 25% success rate. Obviously they couldn't absorb as much water as they needed in these conditions.

I also planted 5 'Terrace City' in the first garden with cold open shade and they bloomed 100% with a smaller stem although the quality of the bulb was worse than the cheap 'Claude Shride'. They were much drier and a bit smaller bulbs. Sold as size 16/18.

In the third garden I planted 'Pepper Gold' or 'Peppard Gold' as it also is called and these were the absolutely worst bulbs. Lots of damages scales, a little rot and very, very dry. So had to remove some scales from them, but still one of them managed to bloom! One didn't emerge at all and was the only no show of all bulbs planted. Regarding suitability this third garden was a bit middle ground. Sunnier than the best garden, but not as warm as the worst.

So although one often says that martagons can take a bit of sun in a northern climate, one perhaps should take into account that particularly bulbs of poorer quality can suffer greatly in the first year if planted in a warmer site, even when adequately watered. But even bulbs of lesser quality can make a good first year in a really good site. We were for our conditions here in the southern part of Sweden extremely warm and sunny in May and a good portion of June. So colder weather could have given better results. One also have to take into account that I didn't plant any of the best bulbs in the warmer beds and that I compare different cultivars against each other, which isn't completely fair.

I didn't take any documentary photos of the bulbs but I have at least some images of how the bulbs of lesser quality bloomed:

22+ size dehydrated 'Claude Shride' , 100% (2 of 2 bulbs) bloomed in shade, 25% (2 of 8) in more sun.


Size 16/18, "Can't-believe-I'm-still-alive-quality", 'Peppard Gold' 20% (1 of 5) bloomed



Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
Image
Pistil
Jul 10, 2016 12:13 PM CST
They look terrific!

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