Lilies in pots?

johnsaunt(7)November 6, 2006

I got my first lily bulbs last year and was so anxious to see the beautiful flowers, but some #!$* varmint ate all the buds off my lilies before they bloomed. So today I dug them up, thinking I could put them in pots that I would be able to protect better. But then I read that they need to be planted at least 8" deep. Since they presumably need some space underneath the bulb, this means I need really, really deep pots. It seems to me that I've seen blooming lilies for sale at nurserys and they're in regular plastic pots that are about 6" wide and 6" deep. Is my memory faulty?

Does anyone have advice about growing lilies in pots?

Thanks, Ginny

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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi Ginny,
The lilies for sale in nurseries aren't expected to live in those small pots permanently. The bulbs in them are also packed in tight next to each other. If you want to grow lilies as annuals that would work fine, (I'd wait 'til spring then to buy them), but I don't think it would be successful long term.

But lilies can be grown in larger pots. I don't keep lilies in pots all year round, but I do grow spring purchased bulbs in pots over the summer (while I wait until Fall to make room for them in the garden). I plant 5 bulbs per 16" diameter pot. They bloomed great and looked really good on my cement walk. And I could rotate pots in and out as they came into bloom. If you want to keep them in pots over the winter I'd go with a pretty large pot to keep them insulated or move moderately sized pots into an unheated garage when the winter gets really cold.

You can plant lilies more shallowly in a pot since you don't have to worry about critters as much. Though the only squirrel damage I had this year was to bulblets planted in a pot right next to my front steps, (go figure). like you I put them in pots because I wanted to protect them. Since Lilies are stem rooting, you'll want to get the top of the bulb at least 4" deep.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 8:00PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

I've grown some sort of lily in pots year-round for the past 10 years and they do just fine. Many of the asiatic, oriental, orienpet, etc., types are quite hardy and as long as you don't let them stay too wet in winter (need free draining soil and perhaps find a spot that stays fairly dry in winter so you can control the watering), they will do just fine in this zone in pots. A 12" square container (or 3 - 5 gallon round nursery pot equivalent) is ideal as a minimum size to start, as you can wait longer before dividing and that size tends to have a good depth for planting.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 3:59PM
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I live in Tucson Arizona in the winter and upper Michigan in the summer. Brecks delayed so long in getting me my lily bulbs that I was in ARizona by the time they came. I am wondering what to do with them now. Can I plant them in pots here in Arizona-do I have to chill them-can they be replanted in Michigan this spring, or should I just keep them in the bags here and take them back to plant them in the spring? I am so irritated at Brecks that I will never order from them again. THey had plenty of time to get them to me in Michigan. They arrived here in ARizona the 2nd week of November. Anyway...what do I do to save them for Michigan? Thanks

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 11:33PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi Sue,

Yes lilies have to be kept cold (under 40 degrees F) for a couple months to leaf out the following spring. (They need to "vernalize".) You can keep them in a refrigerator stored in just moist peat moss (not wet), and away from the ripening gases of other vegetables. Frankly you might want to call Brecks' customer service. While its not their fault you go to Arizona for the Winter, even if you didn't, most shippers send out to the colder zones earlier because the ground gets too hard to dig and may be buried under snow. (I'm assuming the bulbs were shipped to Michigan rather than Arizona.) I'd ask them to let you return the bulbs and have them refund your money or send you a new shipment in the spring. It's unreasonable to expect you to go to a bunch of effort and inconvenience vernalizing your bulbs that you weren't planning on.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 1:42PM
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Thank you for your reply, Helen. I think Brecks is not interested in my problem, as I repeatedly contacted them whent the bulbs didn't arrive in Michigan long after I expected them. My neighbors had ordered from other sources and theirs were safely tucked away in the garden and still mine had not arrived. They were forwarded to me in Arizona by the Michigan Post Office because I had left Oct. 28. I will try the refrigerator trick and meanwhile I will call them to complain.
If I do not receieve a refund I will discontinue ordering from them-there are too many good distributors out there to put up with this. Did I mention that I ordered these lilies in July? Ridiculous! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:51PM
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