Lilies are prized for their fragrant flowers and often giant, trumpet-shaped flowers. Lily bulbs are planted in containers and flower borders, and lily plants are the perfect summer flowers to add color and cheer to the garden.
There are two main types of lilies to grow: oriental lily and Asiatic lily. Oriental lilies usually have large, fragrant pink flowers. They thrive in acidic soils and should therefore be grown in containers with ericaceous compost. Asiatic lilies have a greater variety of colors including yellow, orange, red and near-black, but they are not fragrant and tend to be smaller than Oriental types. But they thrive in alkaline soil and are extremely hardy, so they’re easier to grow – just plant the bulbs in the garden or in pots of peat-free multi-purpose compost.
How to grow lilies
Grow Oriental lilies in acidic soil or ericaceous compost, and other types, including Asiatic and Turk’s cap lilies in neutral to alkaline soil or multi-purpose compost. All types need a sheltered sunny spot to thrive, and a deep pot if growing in containers. Plant lily bulbs from October to April. Play higher varieties and protect all types from lily beetles. Allow the foliage to die down naturally after flowering.
How to grow lilies from bulbils
Several lily varieties form small bulbs on their stems from late summer to autumn, from which new plants can be propagated. If they fall off the plant, they rarely grow into large plants, so it’s best to remove the bulbs by hand and plant them in pots. Grow the bulbs for next summer and then plant them where you want them to bloom. Have patience; it can take up to three years before they start producing flowers.
You will need
30 cm pots
Multifunctional, peat-free compost
Carefully remove the small bulbs that grow from the leaf axils of the plant.
Treat the bulbs as if they were large seeds. Plant several in a pot or multi-stemmed tray of multi-purpose compost, spacing them 2.5cm apart.
Cover with a layer of compost and water well, letting the water drain. Place the pot or tray in a cold frame or on a sunny windowsill.
The seeds will germinate within a couple of weeks. When the roots protrude from the bottom of the tray or pot, carefully transplant each plant into individual pots to grow in.