(Species: Lilium spp - Family: Liliaceae)
The Lily and its origins
The lily is a northern hemisphere native plant with quite far reaching origins, extending into the northern sub tropics. There are almost 100 species available, most of which thrive in a more temperate climate.
An important group of flowering garden plants, Lilies are often grown to be used as cut flowers and are one of the most popular. They are available in a variety of shapes and colours with many species symbolising a variety of different meanings. The white lily denotes purity and virginity, while Lily of the Valley symbolises sweetness and innocence.
The lily is believed to be one of the earliest ornamental flowers cultivated and has many references in history.
Seasonality: The Lily in flower
Typically flowering from May to October, lilies are a showy and often fragrant flower that range in colour from white to purple, pink, yellow and red. The flower shape varies from tightly grouped petals that form a trumpet-shaped flower, to curling petals that create a Turk’s Cap shaped flower.
Generally, lilies will reach a 1m in height, although some species such as the Lilium Primulinum var. Ochraceum can be over 3m. Depending on the species, it will produce numerous flowers on its tall, strong stems.
How to Plant: Lilies
Lilies are notoriously easy to grow which is why they feature strongly in many garden borders or large pots. These plants enjoy a moist but well-drained soil that is soft and loose, slightly acidic and well fertilised. Prepare the soil well in advance of planting and add plenty of organic matter or leaf mould. The bulbs will remain in place for up to 5 years so it is important for the future success of the blooms, to prepare the soil correctly.
Lilies favour sunlight and ideally, should be placed in an area that gets direct sunshine in the mornings and partial shade on a hot afternoon.
Place the lily bulbs on a base with a drainage matter such as sand and then cover with a 5-8cm of potting compost.
Propagation of the Lily
Lilies can be propagated by division of the lily bulb. The bulb will produce bulblets which can be removed from the main bulb and replanted. Lilies can also be grown from seed but this is quite a lengthy process and can take 5-6 years before they reach full bloom. Although a seed-grown lily is more disease-resistant, bulbs are more preferable for their quick results.
In some species Bulbils can be found in the leaf axis, when ripe, these can be removed from the Lily plant and then replanted.