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Liliums

‘A lily or a rose never pretends, and its beauty is that it is what it is.’ – Jiddu Krishnamurti 

Liliums are among the most beautiful and elegant of flowering plants. Prized for their prominent and stunning blooms, these towering beauties add a touch of elegance and softness. Easy to grow and adding focal points in the garden, they also do very well in pots and are a brilliant cut flower. They come in many colours, from pure white, through yellow, ­orange, various shades of pink, deep red and countless multi-coloured varieties. 

Each different species of lily holds a different meaning. But the most common meaning is purity and fertility. The sweet and innocent beauty of the lily flower has given it the association of fresh life and rebirth. 

Lilium (members of which are true lilies) is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs, all with large prominent flowers.  Many other plants have "lily" in their common name but are not related to true lilies- in botanical terms, those from the genus Liliums are true lilies. 

Liliums can be grown in most areas of Australia and with a few basic growing practices, you will have them flowering with their exquisite beauty and sweet scent for many years. They are best grown in morning sun, or light shade. 

Lilies don’t like to dry out and require consistent moisture during dry periods. They perform very well amongst other plants where their flowers can pop through. Liliums need a sheltered position in the garden where there is protection from the elements.

Caring for liliums

LILIUM BULBS 

The bulbs of a Lilium are large and scaly and, unlike many bulbs, do not go through a completely dormant cycle. Due to this, it is very important that they are never allowed to dry out. 
 
SOIL 

Liliums like moist soil but do not like wet feet, so the soil needs to be open and free-draining. Drainage can be improved by planting on a slight slope, raising beds or planting in raised mounds of soil. 

Lilies will tolerate poorer soils if you fertilise them well, but it will benefit them greatly if you add some compost or aged manure to the soil. 
 
PLANTING 

When planting your Lilies, dig your hole twice as deep as the Lily bulb is tall, around 10-20cm, depending on the variety of Lilium you are planting. You can add a pelletized organic fertilizer to the bottom of the hole and mix it around to disperse. Place your bulb with the tip pointing up and refill the hole. Water the bulbs in well – you could use a dilute seaweed solution for this to help activate the bulbs, promoting root growth. 

They look great planted in pockets so groups of three or more look great spaced at around 20-30cm. If you have the area, large bold plantings look stunning with clumps of solid colour for a striking show. 

Once planted, Lilium bulbs are best left undisturbed. You need only lift and divide them every three or four years. 
 
GROWING IN POTS 

When planting lilies in pots simply choose a container with a size and shape that will complement the height of the flowers; without looking out of proportion. Make sure that the container has excellent drainage and can easily accommodate the Lilium bulbs without them touching the sides of the pot. 

When planting in pots use the best quality potting mix you can buy.

Plant your Lilium bulbs twice as deep as they are high, then water them in. Water your lily bulbs regularly once they are actively growing, so they don’t completely dry out. If you give them a little extra pampering, such as adding a liquid fertiliser fortnightly over summer, this will ensure the best and longest lasting flowers possible. 
 
MAINTENANCE 

Lilies need to be kept moist during their growing cycle and respond well to generous watering in summer. Mulching will help conserve water to keep the soil cool and moist. 

Ideally, lilies should be fertilised at least twice during their growing cycle. Applying liquid fertiliser once plants are setting buds will help keep lower foliage green. Fertilise the bulbs again after they have finished flowering to promote flowering the following year. 

After flowering (or when cutting flowers for display), cut about halfway down the stem. Enough leaves should remain for the bulb to develop so that it can produce flowers the following year. 

After flowering, the stems are left to gradually change colour, yellow-off and wither away. Prune plants down to ground level once the foliage has died off completely, but no earlier. 
 
With their stunning blooms and sweet scent, Liliums are worthy of a spot in any garden.

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Liliums are prized for their prominent and prolific blooms and are a stunning focal point in any garden. Perfect for both garden beds and pots, these towering beauties are sure to define any space with softness and soft aromas.

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Pests and Diseases

They are generally pest resistant; aphids may be a problem but easily dealt with. 

The new bulb shoots are quite attractive to slugs and snails – a few dishes of beer around the planting area should help to contain them or you can use a safe, organic snail bait.

Multiplying and dividing

In ideal conditions, lily bulbs settle in fast and begin to multiply. As each bulb needs a bit of space and nutrients to grow, digging and dividing them helps them to be their big, robust best. Plus, you get more Lilies for your garden, or to share with family and friends. If you don’t dig and divide them, they tend to lose their vigour and won’t flower as well as they could. If you are planning to lift and separate your bulbs, this should be done in autumn and be replanted without delay.

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