when to plant?

veryzerMarch 14, 2009

I live in N. Illinois and am wondering when I can plant some oriental lilies without risking frost damage. I guess the basic question is how long does it take for the bulb to sprout? Around here we live by the (conservative) rule of thumb that anything above the ground can succumb before Mother's Day. Thanks in advance for your replies.

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We're even farther behind with Memorial Day being "safe". I've always planted lily bulbs in the fall since my biggest fear would be spring planted lily bulbs might produce shoots, but might not bloom until the following season.

But I can't attest to this being true.

Planted 6 or so inches deep once the soil is workable should prevent any weather related sprout damage.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 3:09PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

I was going to ask this question also. I bought a pack of Oriental lily bulbs at Costco and was wondering when to plant them. I've always planted them in the fall, also.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 9:04PM
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Nancy zone 6

I'm zone 6 & just bought some bulbs. I'll plant as soon as I can, it will probably be a couple of weeks at least before they start showing above ground & by then we probably won't have a hard frost. I've found they can take light frosts fine. I always buy lilies any time I find new-to-me varieties locally. Normally I will get weak blooms the first summer, a little later than my other lilies. Probably good advice would be to cut off the bud this summer so more energy will go into the bulb, but I just can't do it.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 4:52PM
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Thanks for the replies. I did plant some Legend orientals last spring and they came up about 1' and that's it. I hope that means I get big blooms this year. I planted my Marco Polos about six weeks earlier this year, so we'll see if that makes a difference, but I expect ngraham's results: stunted plants and small blooms.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:31PM
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Last frost date only applies to cold sensitive plants (tender perennials) and annuals. Like other hardy bulbs, lilies emerging now will easily withstand cold weather and frosts. Because lilies are summer (rather than spring) blooming bulbs, they can be planted in spring for for this summer's flowering, especially if the bulbs are decently sized. Many times, Costco and other discounters/home improvement stores offer inexpensive, undersized bulbs that need additional time to develop into good flowering size. Mail order lily specialty nurseries will offer better sized bulbs that should produce the same season - you get what you pay for :-) You can plant out as soon as your soil is workable - no longer frozen and not overly saturated.

FWIW, without exception all my lilies have been spring planted as that is when my local vendors (B&D, The Lily Pad) have the biggest and best selection. None have failed to bloom well that first season.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 12:32PM
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