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Posted by vweaver Northern Indiana (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 18:50

My family and I are moving from N. Indiana to Oklahoma. I have about 500 lily plants (asiatics, orientals, hybrid, name it) and there's no way I'm leaving my babies behind! Problem is...I am staying until the house sells. Could be in the fall, could be dead of winter. Once the ground freezes, of course there's no way I'd be able to dig up bulbs.
My plan right now is to wait until the stalks die off, then dig up the bulbs when I can still easily find them. Not sure how best to pack and store them for possibly several months?! I've read differing opinions on how to store lily bulbs. Help me sort this out!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Moving

lilies never really go into dormancy so you would do better keeping them potted up in a fairly dry potting soil - just enough moisture to keep them ticking over. You can pack them fairly tightly into pots - each one can be touching its neighbour, and cover with a few inches of soil. Keep cool in a garage or coldframe.

RE: Moving

Besides not having enough pots.. not sure that would be the best way to transport them 1000 miles. Baggies? Tupperware? How do I judge how much moisture/not enough? They may be in storage for 6 months- I don't want them to rot, nor dry out.

RE: Moving

  • Posted by minflick 9b/7, Boulder Creek, (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 11, 12 at 20:23

I'm thinking out of dirt for 6 months pretty much guarantees that they will dry out. They'll do much better in pots, even if jammed together with less dirt than they prefer. Can you go to HD and get the big jumbo black plastic nursery pots? They're pretty ugly, but they hold a lot of lilies. Even if you didn't fill the pots with dirt (always optimum, but not fun to move with), they'd be in the pot and safe. At the flower shows I always see the bulbs in damp sawdust, but they look a little tired by the end of a show, and I doubt they'd keep for 6 months. I think if you really want them to make the move successfully and be ready to plant up when you arrive in OK, you're going to need to keep them in some dirt.

Lest I sound like a pimp for the Big Black Plastic, I've kept lilies in those pots for the past 10-15 years, through several moves (nothing like as long as yours, however) between rental houses and apartments. The lilies did fine in the pots when given sufficient dirt for them to be happy, although my back was never happy moving them on and off the truck! I didn't have 500+ of them, I'll admit!

RE: Moving

vweaver-You need to move and plant the bulbs in Oklahoma this fall, no ifs, ands, or buts!! Otherwise you're going to end up with a big mess and a whole lot of unnessary work--as well as the risk of either rotted or dried out bulbs. Moving households usually involves a couple trips back and forth so getting your bulbs to OK shouldn't be a problem; even if a family member has to plant them in a temporary garden for you, at least they're in the ground and you'll avoid all that potting mess. Here's how I would do it.

Start by geting one or two bales of sphagnum moss from the garden center of a big box store like Home Depot, Lowes, Builders Square, Menards, etc.(about $7.00 to 8.00 each). It crumbles real easy and is the same stuff you see in packaged bulbs at the store. Then plenty of cardboard boxes (all sizes) Food storage bags (freezer bags are ok, too) and last, a cheap plastic drop cloth(like painters use)to line you larger boxes.

Then, cut all the stems at ground level--DO NOT forcably remove this stem,unless it falls out on its own. Dig and remove as much dirt from the clump and bulbs as possible DO NOT wash! You could trim the roots at the base of the bulb to an inch or so but not absolutely necessary. Place bulbs in a shaded area(like on cardboard placed on the garage floor) to dry for two or three days. Keep out of direct sunlight. Some asiatic bulbs may turn a little pink--that's ok. Now pack them using the(hand crumbled) moss as the packing media. The larger bulkier ones with large stems can be packed directly in your plastic lined boxes and just fold the plastic liner at the top-don't seal the plastic liner. Store in as cool a place as possible.

This gives you a four to six week time frame to complete the transition and move. And they should be planted in Oklahoma as soon as they get there. A big job--but it's the best way if you want to keep your lilies healthy and robust for next year.

Make sure you label as you dig. I frequently move 150-200 or so each year and mix ups do happen even with one's best effort--it's all part of the game, I guess. Good luck and if you have any questions along the way, don't hesitate to ask.

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