Anyone growing lilies in crates?

heirloom_lady(z5 OH)October 7, 2006

Does anyone have experience growing lilies in crates in an unheated greenhouse or hoophouse? I thought I would try to grow some in crates and plant the rest in the field. Is planting and harvest time the same? I'm not sure what the advantage would be to growing them in crates.


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bfff_tx(z8b TX)

Yes I'm sure some users of this forum do what you ask, but everyone is so busy at present, they don't have time to answer. Bear with them, eventually you'll get your answer. thanks for asking coz I wouldn't mind knowing too.
Cheers Kim - BFFF

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 12:03AM
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Sherry and Kim, I just set-up my hoophouses for next spring. I do not have any experience growing them in the hoophouse yet. I have a few thousand in the field and want to expand our time we have them. Planting and harvest are different. You plant them in the crate, keep them in the crate in your walk in cooler. Look at the bloom schedule. Decide when you need them. Pull them out of the cooler and stick them in the hoophouse at the appropriate time. The advantage is having lillies for mothers day, thanksgiving etc. I plan on putting the plastic on once the pussywillows come on next spring about 1st part to mid February and putting in the crates, then having lillies for 1st FM and through fall.

Good luck. Bryan

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 2:25PM
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Noni Morrison

I am interested in this too but alas, I have no walk in cooler. I dream of having one. I just got 7 new crates with my colorblend order in crates make me drool like visiting a lumber yard and wanting to build with all the lumber!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 1:11AM
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Patty_WI(z4 WI)

I grow lilies in crates and they work great. Some advantages are that they are mobile. You could set one/some crates in more shade than others and they will bloom slightly different times. If you want to stretch the harvest time a bit.

Also, if you do not have much space you could set the crates in walkways paths etc. This year with the drought it was handy to put the crates in the main garden where it was the easiest to water them.

Extending the season is a reason to grow them under plastic. Right now I am harvesting an oriental lily named "Arena" it is white with red and yellow in the center. Beautiful and works well with fall colors.

To read more about growing in crates go to

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 7:47AM
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heirloom_lady(z5 OH)

Thank you all for your posts. Patty, the NewFarm link was great -- very informative. I already ordered bulbs before I considered growing them in crates. Maybe I should have waited a while. How soon do I need to plant the bulbs for blooms in May or June? Thanks, Sherry

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 7:43PM
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Patty_WI(z4 WI)

If you get the Ednie catalog they will have some suggestions for ship dates for holidays. They say that for Mother's Day, (on May 13) depending on weeks to bloom you need to start Feb 5-26th (10 -13 weeks to flower) I do not have the timeing down yet, it seems that all my lilies seem to want to bloom at once!

Like Flower Farmer says experience is the best teacher. I have been learning alot this year!

Sherry, are your bulbs pre cooled? From Ednie you can request a ship date the bulbs will hang out there and they will ship when you want them. Makes things easier.

You can order in amounts of 25. I like this because I can sample a lily, see how it looks, and then if I like it I could order a crate the next time. The pictures in the catalog are never the same as the plant in person.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 9:47AM
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Sorry I was unable to post sooner. We've been in the field digging dahlia tubers, and, trying to get that project done before we're blanketed with too much snow. And, Mr. Flower Farmer's middle name is Panic.

Knowledge gained from our successes and failures would be considered experience. Sometimes we can learn from other people's experiences; but, our own successes and failures certainly would have a greater impact in the development of our own flower farming operations.

Lilies are a high dollar crop; therefore, it is important to do some research before taking the plunge. And, so your original question, Sherry, is an important one, and shouldn't be overlooked. You asked, "Does anyone have any experience in growing lilies in crates in an unheated hoophouse". Here in the Midwest they can't be grown in an unheated hoophouse. Our nights are too cold during February, March, April, and sometimes May to successfully grow a crop of lilies with target dates of Mother's Day, Memorial Day, graduations, weddings, etc. Lily bulbs provided by such companies as Ednie's mentioned by Patty are for forcing in a controlled environment.

We receive all of our lily bulbs that we plan to force for the months of May, June and July in one shipment. It takes a fair amount of experience (there's that word again) to schedule crop finishing time. From our experience (again, sorry), those early crops do finish (meaning start to bud) exactly as the "Weeks to Force Chart" in the catalog. And, sometimes we will have a bit of a crossover wherein a few of the crop for example from "Week 8" are continuing to provide harvestable buds just as the crop from "Week 10" begins. This isn't a bad thing. And, holding stems for market is where it's important to have some type of a cooler.

The chart Patty mentioned is for suggested ship dates. Those aren't the planting dates. Our bulbs are usually shipped to us on a Monday; and, we receive them Wednesday or Thursday. We hold them in the barn for a couple of days. This gives them time to start to thaw. We begin planting in the crates Friday or Saturday. The crates are never held in the cooler. They are placed in the heated greenhouse where we maintain a temperature around 45 degrees for two weeks. This is important for the development of the feeder roots. Then, the temperature in the greenhouse is raised to 60 degrees for continued forcing.

Your final comment, Sherry, "I'm not sure what the advantage would be to growing them in crates." It's all about marketing. Cut flower growers who can provide certain crops earlier in the season can also command higher dollars for their product. It's that old Supply and Demand theory.

One final point on marketing; and, Paul touched on this briefly in the Newfarm article: lily bulbs are expensive, freight on these bulbs has increased drastically this past year. You really need to know your market before investing heavily in growing lilies.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 12:55PM
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heirloom_lady(z5 OH)

Thanks for answering my main question about growing lilies in an unheated hoophouse, Trish. I'm glad I don't have to learn that from experience. My bulbs arrived today so I'll go ahead and plant most of them in the field as I originally planned.
I still want to experiment with the crates though. If I plant some in crates and leave them outside can I move them inside the hoophouse in May and gain a couple weeks earlier bloom?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 6:59PM
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We have been digging dahlia tubers in the rain -- which we have been getting for weeks now it seems. Some of the tubers are drying out on skids in the greenhouse. Tonight the temperature is dropping down to 32 again. This means we're heating the greenhouse. We have to get these tubers dry before storing them. What does this have to do with lily bulbs? Nothing. Except that I can't imagine planting lily bulbs right now in our field.

We do put our used lilies in crates out on landscape fabric in several different areas. The Asiatic and LA do just fine in our winters. The Orientals not so much. Pretty much they rot in the crates. We get several feet of snow here in the "snow belt." This blanket helps I'm pretty certain. In the past, we pulled the crates back into the greenhouse to force. We're no longer doing that. So, we consider these used lilies a bonus; and, they work great in bouquets. And, they bloom when they bloom.

So, to your question: "If I plant some in crates and leave them outside can I move them inside the hoophouse in May and gain a couple weeks earlier bloom?" That will push your lilies along; and, most likely you'll have earlier blooms. You could probably move them into the hoophouse in April. However, you will have to watch those nightime temperatures, and use Remay when necessary. Remay fabric is also necessary for field grown lilies here in our area. We no longer grow lilies in the field. Some years we have a really warm April; and, then the May weather brings us back to reality.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 8:27PM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Hi everyone - like you all, we've been busy! Finished last weekend's harvest festival (and had a hard frost the week before, so not as many fresh as dried flowers this year).

But, I wanted to post here too...I grew lilies in crates outside in our field (no hoophouses here yet) this year. We had 450 come every 3 weeks (I don't yet have a walkin cooler to order them all at once), but Gloeckner's westcoast facility is not too far from me. I loved having lilies all fact picked 20 stems of tall orientals last night. I ran out of crates, so some of my later shipment went in the ground and they're just starting to bloom, some may not if we keep getting frost!

I found that we definitely needed to water these regularly, one section that missed some water early on didn't get as tall. Still usable, but not to florists. Trish, the Asiatics will winter over in the crates outide??
Guess, I should have asked...we've been taking them out of the crates and planting them! But, I need the crates to store my dahlias too! - just started digging these.

One advantage to this system...I placed the crates over my daff/allium beds on top of, it helped with weed control and I got double use of the space for the year.

I will do this again next year, splitting the orders between asiatics and orientals, but planning more orange/yellow/rust for the final shipment with fall bloom times and not as much pink! I don't have my list handy, but the supplier did a great job since I ordered these in March -- pretty late. I think that you can have the asiatics come as late as the end of July and have my elevation/climate, I am not going to have as many of the 95-110 day orientals for later, too hard on my nerves with the frost danger!

Its worth doing! Good luck,

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 1:50AM
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heirloom_lady(z5 OH)

Do you use any special potting mix for planting lilies in crates? I'm going to try to get the crates planted this weekend. Unfortunately we've had so much rain, I don't expect to be able to get any field planting done. I appreciate everyone's wonderful advice.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 10:38PM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

I used bagged organic potting mix - obtained locally, but if I were doing larger quantities, I'd prefer to have a dump truck load delivered. Maybe next year! It worked great.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 1:22AM
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Hi everyone,

I crated my lilies and stored them away in our barn. The soil i used was a mixture of native loam and compost. Will this mixture be alright (not get too compacted) when spring comes around for my asiatic and oriental lilies to sprout? The compost has a lot of crushed clam shells mixed in though. should I add vermiculite in the spring to be on the safe side for drainage? I am worried that the soil I mixed for the lily bulbs are not what they should be growing in. But in a way, the lilies in the grow at the house were planted in compost and native thats why I thought it would be okay to plant bulbs in similar soil in crates. Should I have done differently, like using soilless medium (Pro-mix)?

It might be early to ask about fertilizer, but I want to learn now rather than rushing to learn later when the bulbs emerge. As far as my research goes, I have et found info on fertilizer for growing lilies in crates. Hence, it makes me think that the fertilizer/fertilizing topic is a ssshhhhhh ssshhhh.

Can i use 17-8-17 during vegetative growth stage? or is that too much and will overwhelm/burn them? and then 2-4-5 for flowering (when bud shows)? How much and often should I feed them?

I also would like to grow glads in crates, but unsure how. Are glads easier than lilies?

Thank you in advance for your advice(s)!


    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 3:52PM
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