Trumpets lilies

gigi-fJune 9, 2006

Hi all. Got my Trumpet Lilies yesterday. The bulbs seem to be in good condition. They had started to grow, one had a "neck" about 6 inches and then a green "tuft". The neck was bent at an angle, at least 90 degrees. Please let me know - do I plant this bulb with the "tuft" coming out of the soil, which would mean planting it about 2 inches deep and sideways, do I cut off the "neck", do I plant 6 inches deep and hope it changes direction?

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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi gigi-f,
Do NOT cut off the "neck" (that's the stem) and make SURE the "tuft" is above the ground. That tuft is the leaves and future flower buds and has only formed already because its very late to be planting lilies. Its OK to plant the bulb sideways (at anytime) and lilies are stem rooting so its fine for the "neck" to be underground. Its OK (for now) for them to be planted shallowly. In the Fall after the foliage dies down dig them up again and plant 10" deep.

Also, the "tuft" does not need to be pointing absolutely straight up. It is more likely to "change direction" to follow the sun (which my trumpet lilies do quite a bit).

Generally, the ideal time to plant lilies is in the Fall, though they may be spring planted as well. Like you I planted some late this year - there was an "end of season" 50% off sale at Brent and Becky's I just couldn't resist. Even so, they ended their sale May 22nd.

Some of these bulbs had already sprouted - and it was too late to move the plants that had grown up in their future garden spot.

So, I planted them up in pots. I put 5 bulbs per 14" pot. They'll get this summer to grow and establish roots and (maybe) bloom, and in the Fall they'll be easy to plant out in the garden.

If your lilies don't do that well this year don't worry, they'll come up fine next year. I have 2nd year trumpets with over 20 buds on them that last year only had six.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 6:29PM
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I just planted mine today, and have a special bit for my drill (augur). I was doing well to get them 5 or 6 in deep; how I'll ever get down to 10 is beyond me. I ran into tree roots and had all sorts of problems.

I'm glad to see this answer because I was wondering myself and just winging it. One of the necks had burst through the packet already, and I felt I needed to get them planted right away. I put mine straight up and down and hope the necks will straighten out in time. I'm not expecting flowers this year, but it could happen.

Then I got worried about my squirrels, chipmunks, a few raccoons we get once in awhile and went and bought some Liquid Fence that was highly recommended both on the net and by the local landscape place. $39.95. I about dropped my teeth. Lowe's didn't have it, and if I'd ordered on the net, I'd have had to pay shipping, but if I go through this (it makes 4 gallons), I will try to find it cheaper somewhere.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 8:28PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi aliska,
I wouldn't try to put late spring planted bulbs 10" deep now, especially if they've already have a couple inches of sprout. They might be getting ready to leaf out since they haven't been underground. Even 6" might be a little much since these may be "confused" bulbs. I'd plant them with the very tip of the sprout just at ground level poking out a little bit.

As for squirrels, we are squirrel heaven around here. They made short work of my cyclamen bulbs (which are surface planted) but my Lilies have never been bothered by them. You'd have to be a pretty beefy squirrel to get through 10" of Maryland clay. So deep planting should work for you too (especially if your auger is having a hard time getting through the soil).

I did have a problem with moles/voles this year that munched up a couple of bunches of oriental lilies. If you have those they might be a bigger problem for you than squirrels.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 1:43PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Oh, and by "tip of the sprout" I was thinking of a late bulb that has only sprouted a little. I don't mean the "tuft" you might find on sprouted Trumpet bulbs, again that's the leaves, and needs to be above ground.
(Just didn't want to lead anyone astray.)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 6:30PM
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Helen, I wasn't meaning to dig them up now but one poster suggested digging them up in the fall, dividing them and putting them 10" deep. I only meant if I had done something drastically wrong would I even consider digging them up. That was a lot of work for me.

Intuitively, I buried them about 6" like the directions said, but some had sprouted so much that I left all the sprout above the ground and made sure the bulb was well covered. Some of the sprouts were about 6 inches long already and terribly crooked, almost doubled back. One had two. I suppose I could have split that one but didn't want to risk it because this is my first try with lilies.

I'm inclined to just let them grow as they are for a couple years, then reassess the situation.

Just got finished spraying with Liquid Fence all around the little plot. My was that stuff expensive. Smelled bad but not as bad as I thought.

How those kinky stems are going to straighten (and turn green, they're white now) is beyond me. If they are a mess this year, maybe they will die back for the winter and grow more normally next year if I'm lucky and don't lose them.

Haven't had evidence of moles for years but see it all the time in the park a block away, don't know if we have voles. Liquid Fence would be ineffective for them. The lilies are close to the house foundation (out just a little bit), so that might help with that potential problem.

Thanks much for your helpful post. I'm having trouble keeping track of my threads here. If I do a self search, it doesn't pick most of them up, so I just have to try to remember where I posted. If I start a thread, I check the notify me email now but it doesn't work if you tack a comment onto an existing thread. I almost missed your reply.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 2:47PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi again Aliska,

The stems will turn green as soon as they've had a little light.

As for their kinks, I have trumpet lilies in shade that get quite "Dr. Suess looking" as they follow the sun. They fall over as they get tall, turn up to find the light, then grow out to find better light - ending up with a couple of 90 degree bends. (They're getting moved this Fall to a sunny spot.) Yours will probably stay a little kinky on the bottom but they should turn up to reach the sun.

From your post I was just afraid you'd buried an entire long sprout underground. I did that one year with a lost bag of home depot oriental bulbs. I carefully planted them 8" deep with the top of the sprouts ~ 3" below the surface and the sprouts never made it out of the ground. They were probably ready to leaf out and I confused them by burying them. Amazingly some of them came up the next year and more the year after. They've bloomed beautifully the last couple years and this year are already well over 5' tall. I did everyting I could do wrong with those bulbs yet they still survived. That's what I love about lilies. They're very tolerant of imperfect handling.

So don't worry, as long as something doesn't eat the bulbs you won't lose them. You may even get a few blooms this year and they should be nice and strong with a lot of blooms next year. My second year Lilium Regale (planted in morning sun) have 20 - 25 buds on them. The first year they only had 4 - 6 buds per stem.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 6:07PM
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Hi again, Helen,

They were a "mistake" but I'm glad I ordered and planted them anyway. I wanted daylilies (didn't know the difference!) to plant where I've had new steps poured hoping that it would help prevent erosion, grow larger with less tedious work than other plants.

I hastily had to choose a place to put them when I realized they would work as well where I originally wanted to put them (place isn't going to be ready for awhile so it's just as well), and decided on the east side of the house. A birch tree will be blocking much of the southern sun, so it's only going to get morning sun and maybe just a bit more. Just tonight we have started rototilling edging to the sidewalk coming up the front, so maybe in time I'll move them there. They still won't get a complete full day of sun but more than they will get where I put them.

We'll see how it goes this year with them. An old tiger lily has come up on the east side by the new garage next door and is leaning just a little, but nice straight stem, hardly gets any sun at all. It has a bud on it; I'll see if it blooms. Was surprised it survived what it went through with the humongous excavating they did.

I realize different varieties of lilies may perform differently.

BTW, I stuck in an Easter lily with the new ones; my daughter gave it to me this year. Don't know how forced bulbs like that will do outside but thought I'd give it a try since I was planting lilies anyway.

You are a great source of info. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 11:16PM
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Hello Helen and Aliska!
Your discussion was very informative. I am a newbie and.. can you answer some of my questions also?
I got my mail 'end of season sale' order with collections of asiatic and oriental lilies. Some of them have these 'necks' you were talking about. Maybe it is off-topic here, since the name of the thread is Trumpet lilies - sorry, if so...
I am planning to plant these bulbs as soon as possible, hoping to get them blooming next year. As I figured out from your discussion, I have to plant them about 4" deep now and replant deeper in the fall. I have the flower bed where I suppose to plant them full of some kind of very invasive lilies - orange ones, about 3-4' high. Helen, you probably know what I am talking about, they grow like weeds here in Maryland. I am going to get rid of them, or at least of some of them.
My questions:
Can I improve the soil somehow before planting? Any other advice?
Thanks in advance for any helpful information.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 4:09PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi Alina,
If your soil is like mine (solid clay you could cut into bricks) then almost anything you do will be an improvement. But hybrid lilies are amazingly tolerant and even grow in our clay.

Assuming you have mostly clay:
Amend the soil now, before the bulbs go in. Orientals like acidic soil so peat moss is a good affordable soil amendment. Buy one of those big blocks of it from Lowe's (~ $9.00), dig about 18" of the soil out of the garden (onto a tarp) and then pile in a bunch of peat moss, add clay on top and chop it up with your shovel. Repeat with more peat moss clay layers. Chopping clay chuncks up well and mixing in a LOT of peat moss. You should end up with a sort of raised bed (you can use a border or just mound it up). Press it down by walking on it. This will firm it up but it will still be much less dense than the clay.

With the soil freshly dug up, digging holes for the bulbs will be easy. Those that have already sprouted to any degree, plant so the tip of the sprout is just out of the soil. In the Fall plant 10" deep. Deep planting does two things. 1) Hungry squirrels can't dig them up (lilies are tasty!). 2) In Maryland where you'll have a week long spell of almost summer weather in the middle of February followed by an arctic blast, bulbs deep underground will be insulated from these wide temperature extremes - hopefully keeping them from sprouting too early.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 6:57PM
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Thank you, Helen,
I think some agricultural web sites should copy your post and paste it into their instructions :-)
A couple of follow-ups:
Should I add bone meal to the soil or directly into the holes? Can I plant button mums in front of lilies (I want to add some interest in the fall time and I have a collection of beautiful mums from the Bluestone Perennials)?
Thanks again,

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 10:41AM
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hld6(z7 MD)

I don't use bone meal, and I've read that it should be avoided because it attracts critters (but I don't know if that's true). Again, with only a couple of exceptions, lilies are acid loving, so I don't think bone meal would be helpful. And really, unless your soil is particularly nutrient poor you should be fine without any fertilizing. The problem with clay is its poor drainage and lack of air, not low nutrients. Leaf-Gro is a leaf humus compost available in Maryland (Anne Arundel County composts and sells their collected leaves and lawn cuttings.) It's a good clay amendment but is a bit expensive so I use it for my woodland natives and use peat moss for the lilies and other acid loving plants.

I don't have any button mums, but lilys like their bulbs to stay cool so shading the lower part of the lily with other plants is usually beneficial.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 3:54PM
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Thank you, Helen, sooo much!
For a novice like me your advices are priceless.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 4:39PM
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My new trumpet lily bed is a sorry looking mess, and we had quite a downpour today. I went out to see how all the plants were doing, it is almost dark, and I gently picked up one of those with the long necks. It had developed roots! It looks like it is rooting so that the shorter part of the leaf end of the stem is now turning upward, don't know if the rest will do that and one looks like it might be a goner.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 9:57PM
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