What You Need to Know About the Lilium – Liliaceae

The lily genus is a large one, comprising around 100 bulbous perennial species. These vary considerably in height and flower size, shape, and color, but they share certain charac­teristics, such as that the bulb is always made up of fleshy, white or yellow scales (these may turn purple when they are exposed to light). Lily bulbs can be bought throughout the winter and spring — choose ones that are plump and glossy, not shriveled or dry.

Plant immediately, keeping the “nose” or tip of the bulb just under the surface of the soil. L. regale, the regal lily from western China, is a fairly tall plant for indoors. In common with other lilies, it prefers a cool spot, perhaps a porch or shady conservatory.

The trumpet-shaped (lowers are produced in summer. They are white with a yellow throat, heavily scented, and up to 6 in. (15 cm) across. The cultivar L. ‘Casa Blanca’ has a stunning scent to match its huge, pure white flowers. L. speciosum originated in China, Japan, and Taiwan, and has highly scented, white bowl-shaped flowers with red markings, 3—5 in. (7—12 cm) across.

Size: Height 3—4 ½ ft. (1—1.3 m)

Light: Indirect sunlight.

Temperature: Cool, but above freez­ing at night in spring.

Moisture: Keep soil thoroughly moist as the plant grows and flowers. After flowering, reduce to keep soil just moist as the plant dies down.

Feeding: Use high potash fertilizer, such as tomato fertilizer, every two weeks from when the flower begins to fade until the leaves die down, espe­cially if the bulb is to be grown indoors again the following season.

Propagation: Break healthy scales from the bulb before planting. Place in a plastic bag of moist soil mix and put in a warm, dark place, such as a n open cupboard. Within 6—8 weeks, tiny new bulblets will begin to form on the lower edges of the scales. These can be potted up and grown on.

Special needs: Lily pollen can mark polished surfaces and clothes when brushed against or when it falls, so remove anthers as they develop. Lilies can be brought into flower the follow­ing season by repotting in fall, after the foliage has died down.