Star of the Season: The Sensation Lily05 August 2020 Sandra Ross
Lily bulbs are one of the most exciting bulbs to grow, with a scent, scale and drama hard to beat in the flower world. Lilies will look gorgeous for years.
Our favourite types of lily:
1. Asiatic lilies are strong, tough performers that will stay undisturbed in the garden for years and flower reliably for years. The clump will increase in size and so you will have more and more flowers from each clump. Our favourite varieties include:
‘Black Charm’ is almost black and sophisticated, lovely against a white wall.
‘Sundew’ is a double, golden yellow with a hint of freckles.
'Black Charm' (left) and 'Sundew' (right).
2. Tiger Lilies are tough and reliable with prolific freckled flowers over a longer period. Lovely in pots and in the garden.
‘Pink Flight’ is soft pink with hint of salmon and maroon freckles (divine).
‘Tiger Babies’ is a popular variety from the famous American breeder, Judith Freeman; soft apricot with dark brown freckles and standing one metre tall.
Lancifolium splendens is the ‘original’ classic orange tiger lily, delightfully reflexed and spotty. Very long lived.
'Pink Flight' (left), Lancifolium splendens (centre) and 'Tiger Baby' (right)
In the Garden
Plant your lilies in sun or light shade, where they won’t be disturbed. Lilies will appear year after year; they are reliably perennial so bear this in mind when you choose where to plant them. Most colours look better with some shade, particularly the pinks.
We like to plant lily bulbs in clumps of five. Without these numbers, the effect loses impact. Dig a hole for each group at least 8in/20cm deep. We dig out a trench or shallow hole, taking up as much space as we have room for between other plants. Dig one big hole for all five bulbs, not lots of mini holes. Lilies can be planted during late winter and spring.
Plant lilies pointy end up. Don’t worry if the bulbs have a shoot. Plant them with the shoot just above ground.
Plant lilies into a 5cm bed of sand or grit to help drainage so your lilies don’t rot. All lilies flower better and live longer if the soil is not cold and clammy. Lilies like their feet (roots) in the shade, and their flowers in the sun. Mark clearly wherever you plant a lily bulb so you don’t later slice through it and protect against snails and slugs.
Courtyard and balcony gardeners can grow lilies in ornamental pots. But remember you can grow lilies in black plastic pots and tuck them into a flower garden border when you have a gap.
We use a gritty succulent potting mix for our lilies as they are susceptible to rotting if the mix holds too much moisture. Feed your potted lilies with liquid potash every two weeks and top dress each pot with controlled release fertiliser.
Read more about the tantalising Casablanca lily here: