How to grow and care for lilies

How to plant and care for lilies.

Lilies are one of the easiest flowers to grow. They need little care and have one of the longest blooming seasons of any flowering plant. With the wide variety of colors available today, lilies are a popular choice for many gardeners.

When choosing lilies for your garden, make sure you check you planting zone to see what type of lily will winter in your garden. In southern climates, nearly all lilies are perennial and will come back year after year. In the more northern climates, you will need to dig up and store the bulbs of some breeds of lilies over the winter.

Planting your lily bulbs in autumn will help give them a head start on the growing season next spring. They will acclimate themselves to the natural life cycle they will need to survive and bear flowers more quickly over the fall and winter months. This does not mean you can't plant lilies in the spring. I myself have planted the bulbs in the spring with great results. However, the autumn bulbs seem to fare better and give your lilies an earlier start in the spring.

Planting your lilies in rich soil is important, as you will only have to fertilize with plant food once in the early spring. The soil should provide enough nutrients for the summer blooming months. Good drainage is also important when planting lilies. Adding a layer of sand in particularly dense soil will provide air circulation in the roots and help drain excess water. Plant the bulbs at a depth of 1 to 5 inches in a place where they will get ample sun. Water the bulbs well and provide a top layer of mulch if you're planting in the autumn. This top layer provides added protection for the winter months.

In early spring add a little fertilizer to the soil around the lilies and work it in thoroughly. This once yearly plant food should be plentiful for the growing season of most lilies. Lilies are one of the hardiest of the flowering plants and don't need much watering during the flowering season unless you live in an area prone to drought condition during the summer months. If your lilies are in a windy location, you might consider using small stakes to help the taller breeds stay upright during windy days.

Lilies are self-propagating plants and will multiply themselves each year making them a great choice for naturalization of large areas. Each year you will notice an increase in flowers as these plants create more bulbs and shoots. When in bloom lilies are beautiful cut flowers for vases and arrangements. Be careful to leave at least half the stalk when cutting, as this helps the flower come back next year with the same vigor.

To help prepare your lilies for winter, a mulch of leaves, grass or straw after the first frost is usually sufficient to seem them through the cold months. In the colder climates or with the more tender species, drying and storing the bulbs in a cool location is a better solution.

Lilies are one of the most popular flowers to grow, for expert gardeners and novices alike. Pest and disease resistant, these hardy plants are a beautiful addition to any landscape. They come back each year more plentiful than the last, bringing you years of colorful blooms.

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