|Iowa Regional Lily Society (IRLS)
Growing Lilies in Iowa and neighboring states since 1973
|Planting your True Lilies
First, choose lily bulbs suitable for the sunny or shady areas of your garden. Different cultivars have different sun
requirements, but most need 4-6 hours of sun per day. Plant your bulbs in well-drained soil, but away from trees or
shrubs. Dig a hole 4 inches wide and plant the bulb twice as deep as it is tall. Do not feed, but water it in well to remove
air pockets. Mulch well. Lilies like their heads in the sun and their roots cool. Be sure to mark your bulb with a garden
name stake so you do not accidentally dig it up later .
Caring for your True Lilies
Fertilize your lilies in the spring before the first lily shoots appear--usually in March. Use a formula low in nitrogen such
as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Too much nitrogen encourages heavy foliage, less bloom and could rot your bulb. Add acid
fertilizer to your martagon beds. Protect your emerging stems from late frosts and critters –this will be the only stem
your bulb will send up this season.
After your gorgeous true lilies bloom, be sure to cut off the spent blooming head but leave the leafy stem to feed the bulb
for the rest of the season. Hybrid lilies do not grow true from the seed, but rather from the young clone bulblets under
ground. If the summer is very dry, water at ground level. Wet foliage encourages botrytis, which attacks the leaves and
damages the plants. Mulch lightly round the stem to conserve water.
Protect your Lilies
Mulch your lilies well in the winter. In the spring, cover your lilies to protect from a hard frost that will kill the stem.
Keep safe from rabbits & deer who will eat it--you get only ONE stem per year per bulb!
Thin Out Your Lily Clumps
Dig, separate and replant only in the fall and when the stems are closer than 2 inches to each other. Cut the brown stems
in the fall and mulch well to protect your lilies from the cold winter.
Notes on Living With Lilies
Browned Leaves — Brown leaves on lilies may well indicate botrytis blight, a fungal disease. It is a weather-related
difficulty and not permanent. However, it will disfigure the plants in the current growing season. Sometimes flowers will
not open properly, with one or more “missing” petals, smaller-than-normal petals or odd shapes to the flowers.
Double Lilies— Lilies with double flowers need some patience. Don’t freak out if the first year the flowers look
deformed. All the doubles look ugly the first year! You may get one decent bloom if you are lucky. It’s just part of the
bulb adjustment to a new location. Like most perennial yearly growth: sleep, creep and leap. The second year you will
see some nice blooms and by year three it likely will put on quite a show.
Emergency Move— Is a new patio or city road, water or power line work endangering your lily garden in bloom? If you
are very careful, by digging up the entire clump with a good root ball of soil, you should be able to move them without
any damage. Dig a hole slightly bigger than what you need, fill with water and some loose soil to create mud. Place the
firm the soil and withhold water until the soil has started to dry out. Do not over water!The biggest mistake is to give the
bulbs extra water to make up for transplant shock. If the lower leaves turn yellow and fall off, they received more
moisture than they could handle, and you need to stop watering until the soil is dry at least 2 inches below the surface.
In spring, if the bulbs are just beginning to break though the soil surface and need to be moved, dig carefully so you do
not break the stem. The lily will not grow another stem the same season and you will have no bloom from that bulb.
Leave Some Stem— If you cut a lily for a lily competition or for floral arrangements, do not take more than half to 2/3
of the stem (leaves) or they will not be able to rebuild themselves to bloom the following summer. Lily bulbs only put up
one stem a year, so you need to take care of it. A better choice and leave enough leaves to nourish the bulb. The flower
head should removed after blooming, but the stem left to feed the bulb.
Sun and Shade— Asiatic hybrids are generally best suited to areas of direct sun with at least 6 hours of sun per day.
They can also take some light shade, without leaning too much.
Trumpet Lilies grow best in full sun . Trumpet lilies will tend to grow very tall and will need staking if blooms are too
heavy or grown in too much shade. If you are unsure as to whether or not to stake, try placing a short, 24-inch thin
wood or plastic stake 4-6 inches from the stem . Tie loosely with soft material at 2 foot intervals. If more support is
needed, simply replace the marker stake with a taller one.
Oriental Lilies like to have 4 hours or more of sunlight to be at their best. This could be spots of sun scattered
throughout the day, or a couple hours in the morning followed by a couple of hours in the afternoon, as long as it added
up to 4 hours or more of bright light on their leaves. In areas of high heat, orientals prefer to be in light to moderate
shade throughout the hot afternoon hours or in dappled shade all day long.
When Should Lilies be Divided —After the lily stems have turned brown in the fall is the best time to divide them.
Dig and divide when you see multiple stems emerging from the same bulb or the stems are closer than 2 inches to each
other. Stems will often be shorter than normal and blooms will be less plentiful. During transplanting, if they have split,
you will see two distinct bulbs. Simply pull them apart from one another. Replant or share with your gardening friends!
|Trim the blooming head off your
lily when the blooms fade.
Making seed takes energy your
lily will need to bloom next year
|Stems too close together .
Lilies need to be divided!
|Lily bulbs multiply underground
and are clones of the mother bulb
|Bunnies love lilies!
|Planting and Caring for Your Lilies
by IRLS member Wanda Lunn
|When to Plant Lily Bulbs
Lily bulbs can be planted as long as the ground is unfrozen in the fall or first thing in the
spring. Some cultivars prefer spring planting (Orientals) while others prefer fall
(martagons) but most can be planted either season. Be so be sure to mulch the base of
your lily stems to protect them from the weather.
Choosing your Lily Bulbs
Pick bulbs that are solid--NOT mushy, bruised or dried out. Fresh bulbs should still
have intact roots and no sprout or only a short sprout. Lily bulbs are never dormant, so
handle them gently. You get ONE stem per year, so take care of it!
|Cover your lilies if a late frost is
|Chicken wire wrapped around a
tomato cage can repel rabbits &
|A beautiful Lily Garden is no accident!