How do I grow lilies?

How do I grow lilies?

Lilies are one of my favourite flowers. Their scent will fill an entire room & their flowers make a striking statement whether in a vase, in a pot on the patio or in the garden. They come in a range of colours & are as simple to grow as spring flowering bulbs but have their own specific requirements.

Planting & Growing Lilies

Lilies prefer a moist but well drained neutral to acid soil which is quite rich so incorporate compost or well rotted manure into your garden soil or use a soil based compost, like John Innes No. 2, if you are growing in pots. They also like a sunny or part shaded site & like clematis prefer their roots in some cool shade. Plant lily bulbs in March/April at a depth of approximately 20cm (8”) with about 15cm (6”) between the bulbs. They are best placed on their side in the soil as this prevents water accumulating in the gaps between the scales leading to rotting. They don’t require much attention through the year, just ensure they get fed & watered to keep moist & dead head each flower as it fades to prevent the plant wasting energy on seed production. Leave the stems on the plant to feed the bulb & try to leave as much stem as possible if you are cutting flowers for the house. In mild areas you may get away with leaving the bulbs in the ground over winter if the soil doesn’t get too wet otherwise lift them in autumn then clean & store to plant again the following spring. Bulbs in containers can be brought under cover into a frost free place for the winter then repotted every two years.This year we have two types of oriental lily bulbs in stock which offer fresh ways to grow lilies whilst introducing plenty of colour & fragrance to your garden or patio.

Ground Cover Lilies

Growing Ground Cover Lilies

These compact lilies have short, sturdy stems with glossy leaves which will create a green carpet covering the border & helping to suppress weeds. Each bulb flowers within 10 weeks of planting to produce up to 10 eye-catching flowers which also have a gorgeous scent. Use them for mixed containers, edging paths or weave them through a border where you can enjoy their heady fragrance. Their shorter stems are also ideal for cutting & bringing indoors to enjoy whatever the weather. They grow to a height of approximately 60cm (24”) with a spread of 20cm (8”).

Tree Lilies

Growing Tree Lilies

If you have been looking for something tall to set off the back of your border then the Tree Lily makes the ideal choice & is beautifully fragrant too! These extremely tall lilies can grow to 2.5m (8ft) in only two years with strong stalks that won’t need supporting as they reach approximately 5cm (2”) thick. The plants get quite shrub like over time with a spread of about 60cm (2ft) & one bulb can produce stems with up to thirty sweet smelling flowers reaching 20cm (8”) long. Try not to confine them too far from reach, plant them in large containers on the patio or grow them at the sides of an arbour or pergola where their height will not stand out & their delicious perfume can still be enjoyed.

Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.