Lilies are tall perennials that can grow in height from 2-6 feet high. They form naked or tunicless scaly underground bulbs. In some species the base of the bulb develops into rhizomes, on which many small bulbs are found. Most bulbs are buried deep in the ground, but a few species form bulbs near the soil surface.
Many species form stem-roots. With these, the bulb grows naturally at some depth in the soil, and each year the new stem puts out adventitious roots above the bulb as it emerges from the soil. These roots are in addition to the basal roots that develop at the base of the bulb.
The plants are late spring- or summer-flowering. Lily flowers are large, often fragrant, and come in a wide range of colours and markings including spots and stripy brush strokes.
Naturally most species originate from cool temperate climates and are deciduous. This means that they go dormant in winter in their native environment.
Lilies can be attacked and plants devastated by red lily beetle. Careful monitoring of plants is required if your garden has these pests.
I planted a potted plant of ‘Perfect Joy’ Asiatic Lily (purchased at a garden centre and already in flower) on 11 July 2018 into the front flower bed along the railway path (to side of rose and blackberry arbour). In the summer of 2019 it was absolutely demolished by red lily beetle. The taller pink flowering specimen withstood the onslaught of the lily beetles. It still has lily beetle in 2020 but I have been monitoring and removing beetles from the plant throughout May.
Lily Asiatic ‘Perfect Joy’
- Perfect Joy bears large pink flowers with a gleaming white centre.
- Perfect for any sunny flower garden.
- Grows up to 40 cm high.
- Plant in sun or semi-shade. Prefers bright light but away from direct sunlight.
- Keep soil moist but do not overwater.
- Deadhead regularly.
- Allow foliage to die naturally after the lily has finished flowering.
- Apply a balanced fertilizer when the plant breaks dormancy, and then again when flowers begin to open.
Growing Lilies in Pots
Most lilies are suitable for pots. Plant them 2 inches apart at a depth twice the height of the bulb. Pick off and crush red lily beetle if they appear. Taller varieties may need staking. Refresh the top layer of compost in the pot in autumn and renew all the pot’s compost every third year or so.
Two pots of lily bulbs purchased at Morrisons were added at the allotment in May 2020: Asiatic ‘Stargazer’ and also ‘Mysterious Blend.’
I planted these to add a splash of dramatic summer colour. They were both potted-up on 15 May.
‘Mysterious Blend’ started to show above ground at the very end of May. When the plant crested it already showed intact but miniature flower heads. Amazing!
By the end of the first week of June 2020 there is still no sign of life in the pot holding the pink ‘Stargazer’ Asiatic lily (which was planted into a terracotta pot).
Green fingers crossed that these too make an appearance soon.