Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
August, 2006
Regional Report

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Burgundy Splash Tango Asiatic lily is a wonderful result of new breeding efforts.

Lilies Galore

Plant lovers always seem to be running into another lily. From Asiatic to calla to gloriosa to Peruvian to torch to water, lilies appear at every turn. While they don't all belong to the genus Lilium, most are bulbous plants that are easy to grow, beautiful to look at, and come back year after year. Because their scaly bulbs never go dormant, we can add them to our gardens year 'round, although spring and fall are best. But now is fine as long as you keep the soil slightly moist. If planting in the garden, mix some potting mix in with the native soil; if planting in containers, use fresh potting mix.

Recent interest in commercial breeding has created many new colors, multiple heights for long seasonal delight.

True lilies include the Easter Lily (L. longiflorum var. eximium). Also popular are tiger lily (L. lancifolium), trumpet lily (also L. longiflorum), regal lily (L. regale), and gold band lily (L. auratum var. platyphyllum) -- it's fragrant!

Lilies do best when their blooms are warmed by the sun and their roots are kept cool and moist in the shade or under organic mulch. Where summers are hot, the plants prefer light shade, especially in the late afternoon, since pastel-colored blooms may bleach out in full sun. Lilies need good drainage, so they do well in containers as well as in loose garden soil.

Choose bulbs that have thick, fleshy scales and perhaps several roots. Bulb health is more important than size, and be aware that species differ in size from less than three inches around to as much as ten.

Amend the planting area well with compost to lighten up heavy soil and help sandy soil hold moisture. Plant bulbs twice as deep as their height. Water well, and add another two or three inches of mulch on top.

Leave bulbs undisturbed for years, until their blooms aren't as vigorous as in previous years. Then dig up clumps, and replant large bulbs in soil enrichened with manure and compost. Smaller bulbs will bloom after maturing in a couple of years. Bulbils and scales can also form new (and free!) plantlets.

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