Seeds that are epigeal germinators sprout somewhat rapidly once they have been exposed to warm temperatures and moisture. Seedlings from epigeal seeds emerge above the ground just in a few weeks from the date of sowing. The slender, long cotyledons that emerge above the ground often bear the seed coat on their tip. Soon, true leaves emerge and they continue appearing all through the growing season. Majority of the lilies belonging to epigeal germinators come into bloom in their second season of existence, provided the growing conditions are encouraging. Seeds of all Asiatic as well as trumpet hybrids are epigeal germinators. Even several Asian lily species such as Lilium concolor, Lilium amabile, Lilium pumilum, Lilium longiflorum and Lilium wallichianum belong to this group of germinators.
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For several years, lily growers in northern Oregon successfully sowed their seeds in beds out in the open. These growers were successful in raising several trumpet species as well as their hybrids by employing this procedure, which is also employed for growing Asiatic lilies, however, to a lesser extent. The factors that are necessary for success include an excellent site having a good drainage system and excellent land contours along with very fertile soils.
Usually the seed beds are set up after harvesting a rye cover crop. During July, the area is plowed up deeply and disked with a view to produce fine tillage. Subsequently, the soil is fumigated professionally using methyl bromide and covered with a plastic once the injection of chemical is over. The cover is taken off after about four weeks. Application of this method is effective in eliminating all perennial weeds as well as weed seeds. In effect, this method also helps to reduce the expenses of seedling production. It is also effective in controlling pests and diseases, especially nematodes.
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Seeds are sown in the beds out in the open after the ground becomes workable during the beginning of spring. During this time, the soil is disked out as well as tilled once again prior to sowing the seeds and beds are levelled carefully by raking the soil. Subsequently, seeds are sown sparingly by hand - sowing one seed every 12 sq cm (2 sq inches) or about 765 seeds every meter (700 seeds every yard) in a bed measuring 120 cm (4 feet) wide. Then the seeds are covered flippantly with soil to a depth of about 1 cm (0.5 inch). Soon after sowing the seeds, it is best to apply organic mulch with a view to retain moisture and also to avoid the soil from cracking.
To ensure successful germination of the seeds, it is essential to install a high-quality sprinkler system. You should ensure that the seed bed never becomes dry at any point during the germination period. Application of fertilizer is done as per specific recommendations depending on the findings of the soil analysis. It is advisable that you use a fertilizer that has low nitrogen content. Some growers also prefer applying an ordinary fertilizer to the soil prior to sowing the seeds and applying a slow-release granular fertilizer in the beginning of July when the young plants have developed a flush of leaves.
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At the same time, it is advisable that you undertake a spraying program on a regular basis. This is necessary for controlling Botrytis blight. It is recommended that you apply a good fungicide to control this disease. It is also essential to ensure that the seed beds are always free from all types of weeds. This problem can be tackled by fumigating the soil and plants. The small plants are very susceptible to aphid invasions and, hence, it is important to keep these pests in check too. It is recommended that you apply a granular systemic insecticide, which is not only very safe, but also effectual over a prolonged period of time. On the other hand, spraying the foliage may harm them.
Following the top senesce, the seed beds are dug to harvest the young bulbs towards the end of fall or during the beginning of winter. It has been found that compared to the mature plants, the foliage of these new plants are likely to keep on much later in the season. The lily bulblets are categorized according to their size and are subsequently kept in cold storage till they need to be planted in field rows in the next spring.
This method is generally adopted by commercial lily growers, but it can also be adapted by amateur growers on a much smaller scale. However, it may be difficult for the home gardener to sterilize the soil. As a result, most of them would prefer to grow their lily seedlings in large containers.
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You can also plant lilies classified as epigeal germinators in greenhouses - either in seed beds prepared at the level of the ground or on elevated benches. The former method is similar to the one that is followed for growing lilies in bed out in the open, which includes fumigation of the soil, planting in the beginning of spring, sowing, mulching the soil and controlling aphids as well as other pests. However, there is one exception - the soil needs to be firmed up prior to planting, as the spading machines and rototillers that are employed on the beds in a greenhouse have a tendency to make the soil excessively loose and fluffy.
It is possible to grow lilies that are classified as epigeal germinators successfully in various different types of media and containers. The best way of growing these lilies is to sow their seeds in a mix with no soil in February. Subsequently, you can place the pots, trays or flats in a protected condition in a cold frame or greenhouse. Several lily aficionados sow the seeds of epigeal germinators initially under artificial lights. Later, these seedlings can be shifted outdoors when the weather conditions are favourable.
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If you are propagating lilies from their seeds, care is of utmost important for them to germinate successfully. After you have filled the container with the mix, firm it carefully. Next, spread the seeds uniformly and cover them lightly using about 1 cm (0.5 inch) soil and again firm the soil gently.
In the initial stages, watering ought to be done in moderation. At the same time, ensure that the soil is always moist, but not saturated at any point of time. Ideally, you should always water the pots/ containers early in the morning, as this will help some water on the surface of the mix to dry out before evening. In case the seedlings are crammed full, it is likely that their leaves will develop a dense cover afterward in the season. In fact, they will be tangled together, making it somewhat difficult for the seedlings to remain dry. In such situations, it becomes extremely problematic to control Botrytis blight, a common disease that affects many lilies. However, you can avoid the leaves from becoming wet by installing a trickle irrigation system.
This pattern of germination is seen in Lilium candidum, which needs cool temperatures for the duration of germination and the germination of its seeds is not successful immediately in case you sow them late when the temperature of the soil becomes high. On the other hand, it may be necessary to put the dry seeds of Lilium sargentiae as well as the hybrids closely related to it in cold storage. The seeds of these lilies will germinate without any problem provided they are stored in the freezer for no less than two months prior to sowing.