fortnight lily management

socalsis(9)January 8, 2012

I love these when they bloom, but they're looking increasingly ratty, with old seedpods and occasional dead leaves. What's the best way to keep them tidy, other than just clip out the dead stuff stem by stem? There's gotta be a better way!

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Hello! I live just a few miles south of you in Pasadena. And I know exactly what you mean about fortnight lilies (Dietes vegeta, sometimes still aka Moraea iridioides). The old seed pods are unsightly when they split open, and the dead and dying leaves cling to their clumps in desperation -- you tug and tug -- nuthin'. Getting them out of there ain't easy.
What was recommended to me took some bravery the first time I did it, but it's worked out. And you don't have to do it all that often. I dug up the humongous clump, separated it into smaller fans, and cleaned them up. Much easier out of the ground. Then I planted them back where they were, fans reasonably close together.
I was told not to cut green bloom stalks back to the base, just to snap or clip off the dead part at the top. New buds did indeed form. Now when the pods turn green, I snap 'em off as I go through the garden. Much easier.
Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 9:24AM
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bev2009(6 IN)

I had to look up what a fortnight lily was...being in zone 6, we don't see them here. They are a beautiful flower. The image I found searching showed the plant in a container with coleus. I wonder if I could bring the container in the attached garage for the winter to preserve the lily. I can do that with agapanthus.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 8:00AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I wish there was a better way. I plant them tiny and dig them out and throw them away when they get large. My dad left his to get huge, and he had to hire tree trimmers to come in with a stump grinder to get them out. Some people cut them off about 8 inches above the ground straight across, and wait for new foliage to grow in.

As Kay noted, leave the flowering stalks intact and just cut off the green seed pods before they go to seed. The stalks can produce flowers for two years, I'm told.

Bev, these are pretty tough plants. I'd try it if I was in your position.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Indeed, Bev -- what Renee said. In theory, agapanthus are at least as tender as dietes. If you've been able to winter them over in a garage, you should be successful with fortnight lilies.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:28AM
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When you say winter over in a garage - is that in an unheated garage with minimum water and no light, or in a cold, bright place? I'm in Tehachapi - and we get winter temps sometimes through May !

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 3:18PM
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