Complete and Utter Newbie

mitanoff(Z4b Ontario)August 11, 2009


I was given some lily bulbs last year (and this year) for my B-Day.

The bulbs I planted last year were large and beautiful. . .well. . only 3 flowers, the deer got the rest. This year, the flowers are smaller, the stems weaker.


1. I live in Zone4, (-35C not uncommon). Am I supposed to dig up these bulbs and store in the basement or something?

2. From the research I did on the web, I thought the bulbs would get bigger and better every year (i.e. good flowers). This year, the lilies were not better at all. (NOTE: not planted in optimal sunlight, but they did ok last year). I haven't dug up the soil yet to check on the bulbs.It's a raised bed,with well drained soil so I doubt it rotted. There seemed to be lots of little tiny bulbs, but no flowers on the plants.

3. If I can leave them in the ground, when can I dig them up and replant? -- The bulbs were a complete surprise and I had to sacrifice a vegetable bed to plant them. Not sure where I'm going to put the lilies! Raised bed ok to overwinter?

3b. The bulbs that I planted this year were about 2/3 the size of a baseball and had scales coming off them. If I do dig them up and the scales are still there, should I break off the scales and plant those too?

If the type of lily is an issue, they're mostly Asiatic (Wizard, landini, bestfriends). Others are Asiatic Longiflorum cross (eyeliner) and a few pot lilies (I think these are all asiatic)

My searches on the net came up with differing information and I was getting confused. Hope at least one of you can help me out here. Although I have tons of room on my property, I can't dig down a foot. Too much builder's crap (broken bricks etc). I'm hoping you'll say a raised bed is ok to overwinter the bulbs and I can do a temporary bed in full sun in the back and just dump everything there. Maybe separate the tiny bulbs from the mature? If they have to be stored indoors, well. . .my garage is probably too cold and the basement too warm. ..kinda screwed.

Thanks for reading.

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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I'm in zone 4 as well. There should be no problem growing asiatics including LA's in zone 4.Mine always stay in the ground. If you feel you must dig/move them, wait until the foliage has turned brown. As long as the leaves are green they are producing energy to feed the bulb for next years blooms.
As to the lily that came back weak, did the deer eat the leaves off as well? If so they may not have had enough stored energy to bloom this year. Or hungry critters may have eaten the mother bulb leaving you with just babies.I grow several of my lilies in raised beds, Should be fine. Also if they've only been in the ground for a year they shouldn't need dividing yet.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 11:27PM
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Leave the bulbs in the ground, try not to disturb them for at least a couple years so they can become well established. As noted, lilies need their leaves to feed the bulb for next year. I have had stems stripped bare by rabbits which has caused thinner stems/weaker plants the next spring. We now
use the green vinyl coated chicken around many of our lilies so the rabbits don't eliminate them entirely.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:48PM
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mitanoff(Z4b Ontario)

Thanks for the replies. You've given me a plan of action. I'll build a bed to get the lilies that are in my vegetable garden (deer proofed and space limited) out of there. The lilies that the deer got last year, had only their flower buds eaten, not the foliage. Maybe the light just wasn't enough. They'll get replanted too. I'm inferring that I can leave the lilies in the ground then. No need to store in the garage. Whew!
Thanks a bunch! Now I can start planning and get something done instead of wondering what to do.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:47AM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

Sounds like you are off to a great start. Asiatics are a great lily that can be left in the ground from year to year. Not sure for your zone, but fall is the best time usually to move and plant lilies.
Do you have other garden beds? I like to mix my lilies with other plants to help support them and hide the foliage as it browns down.

A raised bed is a great idea if your soil is compact and poor.
Have fun and can be very addicting!!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 8:25PM
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