Lilium superbum, Turkscap lily advice

wyldeflwr(z6/7 -MD)March 29, 2008

I received seeds for a Turkscap lily that said they should be sown in the fall. I only received them recently. I can not turn the clock back but would like to try to get these to germinate. I read that they need a period of warm and a period of cold. How should I proceed? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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There are a number of places which will give you instructions on how to hurry germination along using the baggie method ( for example, since dmsms 6 recently posted here).

But this process will take anything from 4 to 6 months to produce an above ground leaf - do you have an area where the resulting seedlings can grow on cool but frost free and in good light for 6 months or more?

If not it might be better to simply sow them in a pot and allow nature to take it's course.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 5:30PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi wyldeflwr,

I'm in the same boat. I also live in Maryland and I have some L. Superbum and L. Canadense (from the NALS seed exchange) that I am trying to germinate.

Lilium Superbum in Delayed Hypogeal. Delayed Hypogeal seed need a warm spell of a few months (to form a bulblet) followed by a cold spell (vernalization) before they will produce a true leaf. That said, There is still a lot of variability in germination behavior within that category - especially for the North American species lilies. I've had a hard time finding info. specific to Superbum though from what I've read it seems it can take a LONG time to germinate (from 3 months up to 2 years!!).

I have my seed laying on top of damp paper towels in a sealed baggie so I can watch for germination without disturbing them. My Martagon v. Album (also DH) germinated right away and has been planted into pots for its warm spell. My Superbum and Canadense were started at the same time (a few weeks ago) and have done absolutely nothing yet - though they still looks healthy and plump. After a couple months I'm going to toss them into the fridge for 4 weeks and then try the warm spell again. Some people first soak their seed in a dilute bleach solution (to remove growth inhibitors natural to the seed). A cold wet winter does that task in nature. The growth inhibitors makes sure that out in the wild the seed doesn't sprout too early and then get killed by frost.

I bought some young Superbum bulbs last year from Doyle Farm (a native plant seller just over the Pennsylvania line). I went to one of their open house dates last year to buy Black Cohosh (they don't even have the Lilium listed on their plant list) and while there I spotted lilium Superbum and Canadense.

I talked to them at the native plant sale this past weekend at the National Arboretum and they said they have them planted in their fields this year also but have to wait to see if they come up. They mailorder plants - and they are reasonably priced -so check out their website for their e-mail address ( I've always gotten a quick helpful response from them.

I'll probably buy more from them this year for my own garden - but I'm still trying my seed. I want to see if I can be successful at it growing the seed. If I am, I can plant them in a natural area near my home where I want to try to establish some.

Good Luck,


Here is a link that might be useful: Doyle Farm

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 4:55PM
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wyldeflwr(z6/7 -MD)

Thank you so much for writing. I wanted to go to that sale so badly. My daughter said she would take me and then when I told her hubby probably would if she didn't want to go, she got huffy. Of course, hubby had to work so I could not be there when it started. He got home around ten and said he would still take me but I figured if they had any lilies, they would be gone. I know the best stuff goes early! Been there, done that. When I do manage to get to a sale, you can bet your bottom dollar I will be one of the first in line, especially if I am on a hunt for something special. I did call the Arboretum to ask if they could tell me if there were any Turks Cap Lilies there but the first person I spoke to didn't even seem to recognize the name and the second one said, maybe but they probably had already been sold, that I would have to come take a look. Well, I live in Laurel and I figured by the time we could get there, if they had any, they would be gone. I sure did hate to miss that one.
Now tell me. When you put the seeds on damp paper towels, did you keep them "warm" or just room temperature? I have started seeds that way on top of the fridge as it is warmer up there but wanted to be sure.
Thank you for the link to a seller. I am going there right now to check it out. Please let me know about the damp paper towel placement. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 8:29AM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi wyldeflwr,

Don't feel bad about missing it. One seller had Canadense for sale - but for almost twice as much as I found it last year at Doyle Farm - so I skipped it.

The lilies at Doyle Farm aren't up yet - so she probably won't be able to tell you anything for a few weeks. But, she does have them planted out - so as long as they come up they should become available.

As for the seeds, I would just put them in a warm "room temp" spot. (I'm using the top of my fridge because there is a little space between it and the overcabinet above it - so it is both a little warmer and out of the way.) Seeds don't normally germinate in the summer so they don't have to be hot.

But, the Superbum may need a couple warm-cold cycles to get going. The baggie method is especially nice for difficult seed since you don't have to guess whether or not they have germinated - you can look.

I really recommend Doyle's Open Houses. There are activities associated with them and it is a pretty (if long) drive. I live in Baltimore so you are a little farther out - but make a day trip out of it. Just call ahead and make sure she has the items you REALLY want (she can put them aside)and then browse areound for inspiration


    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 11:11AM
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