|Iowa Regional Lily Society (IRLS)
Growing Lilies in Iowa and neighboring states since 1973
|Helpful Tips on Growing Lilies
True Lilies are classified into nine divisions
for horticultural purposes.
Div. 1 - Asiatic Hybrids - the species came
are found growing wild throughout Asia. These
are the “workhorses” of the lily world. They are
easy to grow, multiply quickly and display a wide
variety of colors and forms. Some are upfacing,
some outfacing and some downfacing. Asiatic
hybrids do well in our area. Asiatics grow well in
Div.2 - Martagon hybrids – the species
came from the Balkan countries of Southern
Europe. They are usually tall with down-facing
and reflexed petals. They bloom early
and are long-lived. Love shade!
Div. 3 - Euro-Causian hybrids – the
Madonna Lily and other European hybrids.
Div. 4 - American hybrids – these came
from species which are found on our East and
West coasts. They are not generally available.
Div. 5 - Longiflorum hybrids – the potted
Easter Lilies. Not very hardy in our Iowa winters.
Div. 6 - Trumpet and Aurelian hybrids –
the species came from China and other parts of
Asia. They are usually tall and very fragrant.
Trumpets grow well in sunny areas and should
be staked for support.
Div. 7 - Oriental hybrids – the species came
from Japan and neighboring islands. Beautiful
forms and incredible scents! The “glamour girls”
of the lily world with a 3-5 year life span. They
love sun in the morning and shade in the
Div. 8 – Interdivisional Hybrids are the
fastest growing Lily division. The tall Orienpets
flaunt huge, fragrant long-lasting blooms. The
LAs thrive in sun or part-shade and present an
entire bouquet at the top of their strong stems.
The LOs offer big blooms & a lovely scent for
shady areas.The Asiapets, Martasians and other
new crosses offer a large variety of colors,
shapes and scents to the discriminating Lily
gardener. An incredible selection of beauty for
your garden in this division!
Each Lily is fertile within it's own Division.
Crossing Division x Division requires Embryo
rescue techniques requiring removal of the
embryo from the lily and growing it in a test tube.
Lilies in this Interdivisional section are the
result of Embryo rescue and multiply true to
their mother clone lily.
Div. 9 – Species (or wild) lilies as they grow
throughout the world. One seen in growing wild
in our area is Lilium michiganense. The species
lilies can be a challenge for the more
experienced Lily grower. Most prefer sun or
|Planting & Growing Lilies
1. Choose freshly dug bulbs of varieties suitable for Iowa. Plant from
October to April—if the ground is workable.
2. Plant in porous soil where your lilies will have good air circulation,
and will get at least four to six hours of sunlight each day depending on
the type of lily. Avoid planting too close to trees or large shrubs whose
roots would take moisture from the lilies.
3. Protect your emerging Lily from rabbits & freezing by mulching--
you get only ONE stem per year per bulb!
4. Dig a hole 3 times the height of the bulb. Plant the bulb pointed end
up, add a layer of soil and water. Fill the hole with soil and water in well
to settle the dirt all around the bulb and roots.
5. Mark the spots where you bury your bulbs so you accidently disturb
them later. Use garden label stakes if possible.
6. Mulch the surface to conserve moisture and discourage weeds.
Lilies like their heads in the sun and their roots in the shade.
7. Fertilize in March and October when the lilies are brown and
dormant. Use a granular formula low in Nitrogen such as 10-10-10.
Too much Nitrogen encourages lush foliage and less bloom. Fertilize
lightly again at bloom time.
8. Be sure your lilies get plenty of water in the spring until they bloom.
After bloom, water only if the season is very dry. Trim off the spent
blooming head. Water at ground level to discourage leaf spotting.
9. Dig with a garden fork, separate and replant in the Fall when the
stems in the clump get too close together. Remove the brown stems as
winter approaches and add mulch.
10. If you cut your stems , be sure to leave 2/3 of the stem to nourish
the bulb for the next year’s bloom.
11. Be sure to remove the blooming head after the blooms fade. Letting
the blooms turn into seed wastes the energy of the bulb making seeds
unless you are hybridizing. Your healthy stem of this year is the basis
for beautiful blooms the following summer.
12. Make friends with others who grow lilies and exchange ideas,
experiences and surplus bulbs. Visit gardens and see how others
landscape with lilies. They are lovely in mixed borders.
|Healthy fall bulbs!
|Wire cage protects against
hungry bunnies & mulch
protects against winter cold.
|Freeze damage from a rare
late May freeze.
|Protecting early emerging
stems from late frost.
|Paper or cloth hold the heat
better than plastic.
|LABEL your lilies so you can learn their
names & find them in your garden .
|Mulch is a lily's best friend!