Excellent drainage is the most important requirement for growing lilies successfully. The bulbs of lilies have a preference for open soil composition and they relish in humus. They also take delight in coarse soil and nutrients. Lilies grow very rapidly during the period between spring and summer - during this period these plants make excellent use of plenty of water. Considering that they are provided with this kind of excellent start, lilies are able to resist against mild droughts in later stage. However, like in nature, lilies are most happy when there is sufficient moisture underground.
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Lily plants also want their heads to remain in direct sunlight, while their toes remain in the shade. Apart from these basic requirements, the preferences or needs of lilies are very limited. In fact, Lily species like Lilium auratum and Lilium speciosum consider lime to be as harmful as arsenic and the presence of lime in the soil result in the quick death of the plants. Then again, species like Lilium candidum prefer some lime in the soil, which is uncharacteristic of lilies. Some lily species like Lilium monadelphum, Lilium martagon and others are content if they are left undisturbed in their place for several years once they have established themselves. In fact, given an opportunity, these lilies may even expand their area by producing new seedlings. Conversely, often pretty little lily species like Lilium concolor and Lilium pumilum have a very brief life span if they are grown from individual bulbs. In fact, these species may often produce seeds before withering and the seeds germinate readily giving rise to new plants that start blooming soon.
Generally, lilies have a preference for warm summers and cold winters. However, they loathe heavy humid weather conditions. In southern United States as well as in Japan, lily growers are faced with continuing issues owing to fungal diseases mainly on account of hot and sticky summers. If you are living in any place where the temperature seldom drops below 40°F (4.4°C) during winter, it is advisable to lift the lily bulbs in October and store them in a refrigerator for anything between four and six weeks with a view to imitate the weather during the cold winter months.
In fact, at times even climate influences the flowering of the plants. If the spring is warm and wet, the likelihood of lilies flowering earlier than in a cold and dry spring is very high.
Similarly, lilies that are cultivated in shaded places will often produce lesser flowers compared to those growing in places receiving direct sunlight. For instance, if candidums are planted in a shaded location, they will have a propensity to bloom about 10 days to 14 days later compared to those grown in full sunlight.
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It is important to note that all types of lilies like to have their heads in full sun, as this helps them to attract insects as a result of their exquisite colors and fragrance. Nevertheless, many lilies, perhaps the majority, are happy to grow in light woodland or in similar conditions in present day gardens - under the light shade of trees and shrubs wherein their bulbs will develop and revel in dappled sunlight. When grown in such locations, the trees as well as the shrubs provide an excellent background for the wonderful flowers. At the same time, the roots of lilies working under the soil will also make sure that the drainage is excellent by means of promoting healthy soil composition and supplying the excessive water upwards. This water is subsequently lost from the leaves via transpiration.
For lilies enough is certainly a sufficiency. These plants do not like the tightly packed masses created by nearly all conifers. However, at some distance, the plants may possibly benefit from the increased acidity of the soil due to the needles fallen from the trees.
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A well aerated environment is essential for the healthy growth of lilies. It has been found that when the air is stagnant, particularly in damp summer climatic conditions, it promotes growth and development of the most common disease lilies duffer from - Botrytis blight. Aside from stagnant air, damp foliage also adds to the woes of lilies. On the other hand, when the air is moving constantly, it accelerates evaporation and, at the same time, dries out the foliage. Hence, it is suggested that the site you choose to grow lilies should have a slight breeze often. In fact, a slope or any area with both ends open to the existing winds is most excellent for growing lilies.
If you are growing lilies in any pocket or hollow spot where the circulation of air is poor, it may possibly serve as a frost trap during the spring. Damage due to frost may lead to the loss of an entire season's flowering, apart from damaging the budding foliage.
In their natural habitat, lilies are generally sheltered from high winds owing to the cover provided by tall grasses, shrubs as well as trees nearby. In fact, lily growers should also bear this aspect in their mind while selecting a site. It is not advisable to plant lilies along borders like many other forms of flowering annuals or perennials are grown. In fact, a lily clump can itself stand as an attractive landscape feature. You can also provide the lilies with necessary protection from winds by planting small trees and shrubs. In fact, erecting a fence can also serve this purpose.
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Several lilies growing in the wild are covered with snow during the cold winter months; thereby they are protected from too much dampness. In spring, rain and thawing snow provide the plants with plenty of moisture enabling the roots to grow as well as function at their best. Similarly, while growing lilies in gardens, we need to ensure that the plants are not affected by too much water during the winter. On the other hand, we need to make sure that the lilies get maximum water from rains during the spring and summer. Having an excellent soil structure and providing mulches help the plants to make best use of rain water. In fact, you may use water butts to accumulate rainwater. When lilies are grown among shrubs, they will usually not have to struggle hard for water and will also not face conditions when water may prove to be a life and death issue. While watering the plants, ensure that you do not wet the stems, foliage and flowers.
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Nearly all types of lilies flourish when grown in sunny conditions. If the light is constrained, lilies have a strong inclination to bend in the direction of the light. The Chinese trumpet lilies as well as their hybrids are best examples of this. These plants need sufficient sunlight to be able to perform well and exhibit their utmost beauty.
However, some lilies like Lilium hansonii, Lilium martagon and their hybrids have a preference for light shade. In fact, Lilium hansonii is an Oriental species that finds shade extremely beneficial during the period of the day when it is hottest. This is mainly because the flowers of this species and its hybrids have a propensity to bleach out when the sun is very strong. When you are choosing how much you should expose your lilies to sunlight, you should bear in mind that a lot depends on the climatic conditions in your region. It has been found that majority of the lilies grown in places having very hot climatic conditions do best if they get some shade during the afternoons. On the other hand, only a few lilies are able to survive in dense shade, for instance under large conifers or in the northern side of any construction.
It has been found that nearly all lilies possess an extraordinary ability to endure heat as well as cold. While the bulbs of these plants are hardened to the cold during winter months, at times they may be damaged severely by a heavy frost occurring late in the season, when they have new growths well above the soil surface. Nevertheless, the frost will have to be extremely sharp and prolonged in order to inflict severe damages to the bulb. When lilies are grown sheltered by other plants, their bulbs enjoy partial protection. Nevertheless, if you have received warnings regarding such rigorous frosts, it would be helpful if you provide these especially valued plants with some additional protection by covering their bases with leaf, straw or bark litter in the form of mulch. You may also use newspaper sheets or plastic sacks for covering. In fact, just about anything will be useful as a covering for few hours to preserve heat and fend off the frost.
If you are living in a temperate climatic zone, sun and heat will seldom cause any problem for your lilies. However, there may be some problems if the water from the foliage evaporates at a very fast speed, especially when the soil below has turned out to be dry almost like that in a desert and the soil's water reservoir has been exhausted severely. In such instances, you will be required to give the ground a thorough soaking.
There are certain stages when lilies require sufficient moisture for growth, development and blooming. For instance, the plants require copious water throughout their growing season, just prior to flowering and some weeks after the blooming period. Following this, you can gradually decrease the moisture level. You should bear in mind that the frequency of watering the plants will depend a lot on the local weather conditions and also on the ability of the soil to retain moisture. At the same time, you need to ensure that the lily bed is never waterlogged or saturated at any time. Neither should the bed be completely dried out.
If you have planted your lilies together, it would be an excellent idea to water them with a soaker or leaking hoses. You can just lay them on the ground in the region where you have planted the lilies and allow them to remain for the duration when irrigation is necessary. In fact, drip irrigation has turned out to be a difficult field and visiting any speciality garden store in your neighbourhood will help you to gain several ideas. Overhead watering is not recommended for lilies, as it may cause harm to the plants. It may damage the lilies when the sprinkler stream hits the plant stems or harm the plants by promoting Botrytis blight as well as other fungal diseases. Then again, commercial plantings use overhead watering, especially where the fields are open and sunny and it is possible to keep an eye on the diseases carefully.
The moisture requirements of the early flowering varieties like Asiatics and those that bloom late in the season (like the Orientals) are somewhat dissimilar. While the early blooming lily varieties ought to be on the dry side, those that flower late would just be approaching their blooming period and their requirements for moisture will peak. Hence, it is advisable that whenever possibly, you should never plant the early and late flowering lilies too close to one another.
In places where the summers are wet, for instance in North America's mid-Atlantic region, it is essential to have a cool soil and excellent drainage for growing lilies successfully. You need to keep in mind that despite the fact that several valuable lily species have their origin in the hot and humid conditions in Japan and other countries in eastern Asia, these plants have a tendency to grow in volcanic soils on steep slopes. The humidity in the atmosphere is one problem that many lily growers have to face. When the air has high humidity, it encourages spread of Botrytis blight and other diseases attributed to fungi. This problem can be solved by ensuring that the air circulation in your garden is good.