Martagons grow best in soil that is alkaline, or in acidic soil with lime added to the soil at planting time and added each year. Regardless of the type of soil you have, adding an ample amount of compost at planting time and providing excellent drainage are extremely important. Providing the correct soil conditions will allow for optimum growth. Since martagons are slower to grow and multiply, this will allow the planting location to remain relatively undisturbed. Martagons have been known to sulk (not put up any growth) the first year after planting. This condition is said to be normal as the lily bulb settles into its new location. Also know that many times this does not happen and you will get growth that first spring. Fall-planted bulbs are preferred as they have more time to acclimate to their new location.
Providing a good location is a key to success. Unlike most other types of Lilium that prefer full to part sun, these lilies prefer a woodland or shade setting. Mine are in high shade and perform remarkably well. Sunny locations tend to burn the blossoms and stunt the growth.
Martagon lily prices are higher than the prices of other types of lilies. If you consider that it takes five to seven years to grow one from seed, you can understand the reason. They are, for the most part, slow to multiply and seldom need dividing.
Martagons have a unique leaf structure, as the leaves are whirled, instead of alternating. This provides additional interest, as do their turk's cap flowers. Martagons come in a variety of colors and recently have been more easily found in commerce. Purchasing martagons from a reputable source that stands behind its product is helpful. Regional Lily Society sales are also a great place to get information and to get bulbs of excellent quality, often with additional resources provided to help with your success.
Planting martagon lilies in your woodland area will provide color and attract butterflies and other pollinators. They take a bit of extra care with location selection and soil preparation, but they add unique interest to the garden. They provide a graceful presence that visitors are always in awe of, and they will bring you many years of enjoyment.
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