How to: grow lilies
Our favourite lilium of all time the musk sticks of 'Pearl Jessica'. Photo - Linda Ross
For wow factor in the summer garden it’s hard to go past lilies, and a new bunch of liliums is now opening bold big blooms across the country.
So-called Garden Lilies have been developed to better suit garden conditions than the traditional florist-focused blooms. Their flowers on these new varieties face to the side and slightly down, so that the blooms don’t fill with water and perish.
The result is a longer show in the garden. The plants have been bred in the US, Holland and Tasmania, and Van Diemen Quality Bulbs has played an instrumental part in making them available. The one shown here is ‘Pearl Jessica’. Also look out for ‘Kushi Maya’, which is cream with a burgundy centre and ‘Robert Swanson’, whose yellow blooms are flashed with red.
Choose a well-lit location that stays relatively cool and has good air circulation. In warm climates find a spot that offers some protection from summer’s afternoon sun.
Bulbs can rot if the soil is too wet, so in pots choose a well-draining mix and don’t put saucers under pots. In the garden find a well-drained position and add plenty of compost.
Straw or sugarcane to a depth of 5-10cm will keep roots cool and moisture available.
Lilies don’t require much feeding. Start with a general purpose fertiliser at planting, follow up with a high-nitrogen feed, such as Thrive when foliage emerges and give Yates bulb food as flowers form.
Remember to water regularly once the foliage starts to emerge. Cut off old stalks after they have died down. There is no need to lift the bulbs at the end of the growing season, unless they have become overcrowded.