Sunday, October 16, 2011

More on Bulbs and Fall Plantings

I'd like to share some tips from The Old Dirt Dobber's Garden Book, published in 1944, today. We are almost running out of time to plant bulbs, rhyzomes and corms in the Northern areas. It's not too late to dig up Iris and replant them if need be. They don't do as well crowded in clumps, so it's a good time to divide. Lilies of all varieties can be planted and divided as well. I also do this in the spring with success. Mr. Williams has this to say:

Fall is the best time to plan all varieties of lilies. The bulbs should be kept out of sunlight, preferably stored in damp sand or moss until time for actual planting. When the scales of the lilies dry out excessively, they frequently take two or three years to recuperate sufficiently to bloom. Do not worry about whether your soil will grow lilies; any good garden soil in which you've been growing annual, perennials or vegetables will suit them.

Note: I've found this is true too. The only problem I've run across is they don't do well when crowded, or when weeds become to thick. The north side of our house had three or four types of lilies planted when we purchased it, but they were overgrown with thick weeds, and crowded. Each year I dug up a clump or two, divided and moved to new flower beds where they flourished. However, there were so many, it took me several years to get them relocated since I had to dig new beds around our property.

More from Mr. Williams:

Water standing around bulbs will increase the likelihood of rot. An easy solution to this essential requirement is to put one inch of sand in the bottom of each hole, set the bulb on this sand, and then surround and cover the entire bulb with sand before filling in the hole with top soil.

Do not allow any fertilizer to come into contact with the bulb itself. Any of the good commercial fertilizers or well-rotted stable manure may be mixed with the top soil in filling in and covering the area where lilies are planted.

Notes: I used compost and organic fertilizer when planting bulbs or new plants.

More on planting:
The depth of planting for lily bulbs varies according to their size, and a safe rule to follow is to plant them four times their depth in light soil, and three times their depth in heavy soil. The applies to all except the Madonna lily, which is shallow-rooted and should not be put more than two or two and a half inches below the surface of the ground. Madonnas should be planted in August or early September to allow for the fall growth of leaf rosettes which remain green throughout winter.

Notes: The Madonna lily, L. candidum, is an heirloom plant and one of the oldest around. It's white/cream colored and grows similar to an oriental lily. Once established it's very hardy and will thrive in fertile soil.

I love growing lilies, and can't imagine not having them in my landscape. Check your local garden nurseries for deals this time of year, and divide what you have only if they seem to be crowded and blooming less each year. Otherwise, leave them alone and enjoy!

On OFL I also have tips on growing Oriental lilies:


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