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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Lilium (Lily family)

I am trying to discover the common and scientific name for the orange spotted wild lily that looks like an orange tiger lily. It blooms in the forests of the Pacific Northwest in June and early July.


You must be thinking of Tiger Lily, Lilium columbianum (also known as Columbian lily and Oregon lily). Source: Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar and Mackinnon (Lone Pine, 1994).

Click here to see images of Lilium columbianum.

Date 2019-03-14
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Lilium (Lily family), Winter gardening, Bulbs

I was recently given 6 Oriental lily (Lilium) bulbs - bare root. It seems much too cold (late February) to put these in the ground. They are currently naked in the garage, but would it be better to pot them until the ground is workable? I have not raised lilies before, other than daylilies.


Generally, it is good to plant bulbs soon after you get them, but if you need to wait (due to cold weather and unworkable soil), keep the bulbs somewhere cool, and keep them "in moist sand or peat moss until scales plump up and new roots begin to sprout" (Sunset Western Garden Book, edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel, 2001).

The Gardener's Guide to Growing Lilies by Michael Jefferson-Brown and Harris Howland (Timber Press, 1995) confirms your thought that it is too cold to plant them out in the garden (I would wait until the threat of freezing temperatures subsides). According to the resource mentioned above, Oriental lilies will do very well in pots, so what you could do is pot them now, and if you decide you would like to move them into the garden when it warms up, you could either put them, pot and all, into the border, or gently remove them from the pot without too much root disturbance, and plant them in the soil.

Date 2018-09-26
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Lilium (Lily family), Bulbs

How do you remove the dead flowers from a Asiatic lily? Do you go to the main stem and cut it there or do you just remove the flower and leave the pod?


Here is what South Dakota State University advises:

"Once all the flowers have dropped their flower petals, it is a good idea to deadhead the stem, by cutting of the flower spike at the base, just above the stem leaves. Keep in mind that the leaves are the most important plant component to allow the lily to come back next year and flower even more than the year before. So, keep those leaves green and healthy all the rest of the summer and fall so they can help to store up food reserves for the winter and next year’s growth and flowering."

The practice of deadheading the spent flowers (but leaving the foliage as long as it is green) enables the plants to put energy into the bulb. Once the foliage dies back in late fall of early winter, you can cut down the dead stalks.

Date 2019-05-03
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Vegetative propagation, Lilium (Lily family), Bulbs

I have a question about what is the best time of year to transplant and divide Asiatic lily bulbs? Is it fairly easy to identify where the bulb should be divided? Also, someone told me to use a rooting solution on the divided bulbs. Is this necessary? Is late October too late in the fall to divide them?


Most sources say to divide lilies in the fall. You do not need to use a rooting solution on the divided bulbs. Sunset's Western Garden Book (2001) says the following: "If clumps become too large and crowded, dig, divide and transplant them in spring or fall. If you're careful, you can lift lily clumps at any time, even when they are in bloom."

One rationale for lifting them when in bloom is provided in an article from the Wisconsin Regional Lily Society, no longer available online, but excerpted here:

"After three successive years of making this futile pact, I finally concluded that books were wrong! Fall isn't the time to transplant lilies. It's a job best done in mid-summer when they're in full bloom. This eliminates most of the guess work, since at this point, the plants are at their maximum height, making it nearly impossible to make the mistake of planting the tall ones to the front of the border, the short ones at the back. It also affords a crystal-clear picture of concurrent bloomers. In fall, no matter how carefully one does the job, when digging dormant bulbs at least one bold orange always manages to get itself placed directly beside the brightest pink. The clashing colors burn themselves into your retinas nearly as well as flashbulbs-blink quickly and the image reappears!

"The maximum size of the plants in mid-summer is another advantage. When autumnal plants have shrunk to a mere fraction of their former selves, it's too easy to misjudge your space placement. Who hasn't heard the disheartening 'crunch' of a spade slicing through the most expensive bulb in the bed? How it knows the price, I'll never know.

"Spring is the only time I'd actually refrain from moving lilies. The delicate new shoot is easily broken, and once gone, the poor bulb has only two options: It will either die or spend an entire year below ground, depleting its energy reserves as it forms a new shoot for the following spring. All the while it's caught in a perilous game of Russian roulette. Without aboveground parts to warn of its existence, it can never quite be sure when a spade might suddenly come slicing down. Crunch! -The second most expensive bulb gone?

"Certainly no plant will be thrilled at being dug up and moved in full flower, but if it's kept well watered and blooms are removed, almost any perennial will have recovered fully by the following season. One of the best gardeners I know says that the best time to move any perennial is when you have the time!"

Date 2019-04-18
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Vegetative propagation, Lilium (Lily family)

My Easter lily died, and as I was removing some of the soil I saw a small green bulb (less than an inch long). The tag that came with it said they can grow year round, and I live in Florida where it always stays warm enough. I decided I wanted to try to salvage that bulb and regrow it. Can I safely remove that bulb from the stem of that dying plant and replant it?

I also have recently planted some small Asiatic lilies (which are growing like mad, I planted the bulbs less than a month ago and they are already over 6 inches tall!) and want to be able to do the same when they die. I hope you can help me out, I love lilies and want to be able to keep these going and then add more and more. Thank you!


The Complete Book of Plant Propagation (edited by Charles Heuser; Taunton Press, 1997) gives these instructions for growing on "stem bulblets" like what you see on your Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum):
"Pick off the bulblets carefully, to avoid damage to any small roots that may already have formed. Plant bulblets at twice their own depth in a prepared pot of medium [potting soil], and mulch with a layer of sand. ...Grow on in a cold frame [I guess that would be outdoors for you, but shaded]. The following fall, pot up individual bulbs separately, or if growth has been vigorous, set ... in the flowering site. ...will take 2-5 years to flower."

The same process should work for your Asiatic lilies (Lilium hybrids), if you have stem bulblets there, or you could try "scaling." Scaling involves breaking a bulb into individual scales, throwing out any soft or wrinkly ones, and bagging them up in a sand/peat mixture (inflate the bag with air) at 61-77 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-12 weeks. Each scale should sprout bulblets, which you can treat like stem bulblets, except leave them attached to their scale (as long as it is firm) and don't bury them so deeply while the bulblets are small: 1/4 of sand over the scale bulblets is enough.

Date 2018-12-19
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Symphyotrichum, Perennials--Care and maintenance, Rudbeckia, Lilium (Lily family), Helenium, Delphinium, Crocosmia, Chrysanthemum

Many of the daisy-like flowers such as Rudbeckia, Helenium, Symphyotrichum, and Chrysanthemum will form a mass of flowers that will eventually topple over the edge of the beds. While a cascade of color can be attractive spilling over the edge, it looks very unsightly when you expose the brown bare centers of the plants. It is best to stake these plants as a group or clump. Tall perennials with large flowers like Lilium, Delphinium, Crocosmia, and Dahlia will benefit from individual stakes.

Date: 2007-07-13
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