LA hybrid planting depth changes? Height?

leslie197(z5 MI)November 19, 2005

I did not know exactly how to word this query - so bear with me. 5 or 6 yrs ago I planted a half dozen LA hybrid lilies in a small daylily bed. They grew & bloomed well but did not spread much.

This past summer some animal/rodent tunnelled under the area uplifting (but leaving them in the soil) several daylilies and one of the LA lilies which was about 2 weeks past bloom time. I pushed the daylilies back into the ground, moving the most disturbed one to another location, and decided to also move the LA lily to another location because it was too tall in its current location.

This lily has/had a very sturdy stalk, never needs/needed staking, but is closer to 4 1/2 ft than the 24-30 inches listed in B&B's catalog. I planted in its new location at the same level it was previous planted - WHICH WAS QUITE SHALLOW, 3 - 4 INCHES. It is hard for me to believe that this tall a lily could hold itself so upright in so little soil - strong roots!

I am quite certain about the depth at which the lily was growing because I patted (stomped) everything down firmly before I decided I would move things around and could clearly see the soil line on the stalk.

Except for a few special things, I always plant lilies 8 inches deep. I have other varieties of lilies, but LA Hybrids are the only ones I have ever planted in this bed. All have gotten quite tall.

Questions: can lilies move up in the soil on their own (I know daffodils can move down), could this be an offset, a self-seeded or self-hybrid or reverted lily? In anybody's experience do the LA hybrids get 4 ft tall after being grown a few years? Will the shallowly planted bulb now live (I mulched it heavily this fall when I was cleaning up and cut the stalk down)? I don't want to disturb it again this late, unless you all think I must. Unfortunately I didn't think about this until fall clean-up or I just would have re-planted it deeper.

Thanks Leslie

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tyshee(Z 3 & 4)

Generally they move deeper or to the side. Could this be some children who have matured. They should be six to eight inches deep. LA lilies multiply quickly (many in just two years). You would normally divide them every third year. Four years tops. I think perhaps your lily was over crowded. The rodent may have ate part of them. As for size, a well fed lily will be much taller than stated. I have many that are twice as big as the normal listed size. Don't worry about that. If you have large healthy stalks and good bud count, the lily is very very happy. LA lilies are said to be sort lived but they always have more to take the parents place. I cannot vouch for that but I know many of them multiply very rapidly. I gave away hundreds and hundreds of sun crest this fall to everyone I knew. Mine grow very large and I divide them often. I would bury that lily deeper but it is capable of allowing its roots to pull it down. It is more weather protected when buried deeper. LA lilies shouldn't need to be mulched unless it is very cold where you live.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 6:03PM
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leslie197(z5 MI)

Thanks Tyshee, I bet you are right that it is an overcrowded child of the original bulbs. It was on the outside of several other lilies, but not really close. I bet there are some unblooming bulbs in the area too, if I can find them.

This particular bulb looked big and healthy and the transplanted lily stalk was above the fence line. I have never used any bulb fertilizer on the lilies, but I top the bed each spring with bags of composted manure and humus and dump ground leaves in the fall.

I have never split this small colony, because the daylilies in the area which were started as double fans have grown so much, and of course I didn't leave a path to the interior of the bed. I sort of hop in on one foot to cut down the lily stalks :-)

My DH actually suggested this summer that we expand this bed because it was getting so crowded. So I now have 3 extra feet all round the outside to play with next spring. I'll dig up the rest of clump next spring and split them when I re-arrange things.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 8:31PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Two things about lilies. 1) In addition to their basal plate roots most are also stem rooting and 2) all are pretty "tasty" to critters (and some to people, they are grown as a food crop in China).

A shallowly planted lily bulb will live . The basal roots provide enough nutrition and water - though additional nutrition from stem roots is desirable. It may need staking because it won't have as many stem roots to stabilize it. A bigger problem is that a shallowly planted lily bulb is more vulnerable to squirrels and other critters.

Another issue (which may not be a problem in your zone) is that If you have wide temp swings in late winter shallowly planted bulbs are more likely to "think its Spring", sprout, and then get hit by the next frost. Deep mulching of shallow bulbs will help prevent this by insulating the soil and is also some protection from critters.

Between the WIDE temperature changes we have in the mid-Atlantic and the large population of BOLD squirrels in my neighborhood I make sure I have a good 8"-10" of soil above my lily bulbs and then I mulch on top of that. The critters have gotten my tulips on occasion, and completely cleaned out my cyclamen but I've yet to lose any lilies to them. Now slugs in the spring have been a different story. Be sure to pull back your mulch before your lilies even start to sprout.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 9:45PM
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leslie197(z5 MI)

Thanks Helen, I appreciate your taking the time to write. Squirrels have not been a problem here as all the big trees are east of me quite a bit, but the rabbits just absolutely love my lilies! In the spring mommy and babies (many babies) will nibble away all the bottom leaves on the stalks. I've taken to using hardware cloth cylinders around some. So far no slugs in this part of the yard - its the highest and driest spot I have.

As for wide swings in weather - we get them too. Usually though we pretty much go from winter to summer and skip spring altogether - or at least so it seems sometimes in Michigan. It just surprised me so much that this big heavy tall stalk appeared to be growing so shallowly - or I would have planted it deeper at the time. Whatever this rodent was - it took out two favorite daylily clumps as well as the largest most floriferous bulb in the bed!

After a really nasty cold spell here, we recently have had two days in the 50s again (for a minute in the afternoon while I was at work. :-) Anyway I replanted the bulb deeper - well actually I dumped a container of dirt on top and raised the whole area a couple of inches, then mulched. I have really heavy clay soil, so I usually go up with bulbs - and plant only in the high areas near the house (yard slopes down in sort of waves and gets mighty wet at the bottom).

You're right about the stem roots - it just never clicked in - when I was stomping around after the rodent damage - this bulb definitely had roots for a few inches along the stemline anchoring it in the soil. These were broken off by the uprooting little devil. We'll probably be frozen solid by Christmas so I don't know how much root making the lily can do. Anyway I have about 2 dozen more in the bed. Thanks again, Leslie

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 8:28PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi again Leslie,

I know what you mean about clay (there's a reason there are so many brick homes in Baltimore). I could literally cut much of my soil out in squares and bake them, as is, to make bricks. While I usually amend the soil when I plant, luckily, most lilies are pretty robust and will push their way up through most anything. I guess that's why I like lilies. They are beautiful flowers that don't need me to be that great of a gardener! :) Making a raised bed is a great solution for late planting, you get amended soil with good drainage AND don't have to spend a lot of time outside digging in the now "nether regions" freezing cold.

As for bunnies, bottom leaf nibbling from a mature stem (while not desirable) is OK if they aren't damaging the stalk, But if they get the tip of the stalk as it is first emerging your lilies won't flower. I used 2' high green coated chicken wire (with 1" cells) for a lily bed in the back corner of my yard that I thought rabbits were visiting. (I wasn't sure but something took a big chomp out of the side of a stem.) From a distance its not visible and even close up blends in with the tall lily foliage that rises above it. Its really easy to put up and cheaper than hardware cloth. If you only need to protect newly emerging shoots, cut off the bottoms of plastic milk jugs and use as heat caps over the new sprouts until they're big enough to survive bunny nibbling. Or, adopt a stray cat.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 9:56PM
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