Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a listing of some frequently asked questions which we receive. This list is not comprehensive and other materials are readily available to answer more specific questions you may have.
- When should lilies be planted?
- What is the best source of lily bulbs?
- Can lily bulbs be stored?
- Are lilies really hardy?
- How can I have lilies blooming all summer long?
- How can I increase blooming of my lilies?
- Which lilies are fragrant?
- What are the best growing conditions for lilies?
- Are lilies good cut flowers?
- Can lilies be grown in containers?
- How are lilies best used in the garden?
- How often do lilies bloom?
- Can lilies be forced indoors?
- Do bigger bulbs produce bigger flowers?
- Do lilies "revert" back to ancestral types?
- Why did my lily produce a huge flattened stem with a tremendous number of flowers?
- Why didn't my bulbs come up?
- How do I request a replacement for failed bulbs ?
When should lilies be planted?
Because lilies bloom during the Summer, there is a greater window of planting opportunity than for Spring-blooming bulbs. Lilies can thus be planted during the Fall, Winter, or Spring season for a good bloom the very next Summer. Be careful when obtaining bulbs past April, as they will most likely be over-sprouted if incorrectly stored. Also avoid purchasing from dealers offering delivery too early. These bulbs are either too immature for optimal performance, or they are even more likely to be left-over, or even frozen bulbs from the previous year's harvest. These lily bulbs are unsuitable for gardeners' needs. Generally, bulbs are harvested no earlier than October for optimal quality.
What is the best source of lily bulbs?
The closer you can get to the growing source, the better. Mislabeled and poor quality bulbs are the hallmark of the very large catalog companies and garden centers. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do business only with companies who 1) guarantee their products, 2) convey responsibility to their customers' concerns, and 3) can be reached in an easy manner. Beware of unscrupulous dealers offering bulbs at inappropriate times of year, or at prices far below the norm. You get what you pay for.
Can lily bulbs be stored?
Being perennials, lilies are supposed to be in the ground year-round. Without precise controls, bulbs should be held at cool temperatures for only a short time after purchase. We strongly advocate immediate planting because lily bulbs can deteriorate except under ideal storage conditions. Such storage is best left to your supplier. It's better to request shipment for the time you intend to plant.
Are lilies really hardy?
Definitely yes! Treat lily bulbs as hardy perennials anywhere in the continental U.S., with the exception of warm-winter areas where they don't receive an adequate dormancy period. At the other extreme, Oriental lilies are reputedly less hardy than Asiatics and Trumpets and would not be very suitable for an extremely cold-winter area.
How can I have lilies blooming all summer long?
By selecting varieties whose natural bloom time is staggered, one can enjoy flowers from Late May through August. This would entail varieties from all the lily groups, (i.e. Asiatic, Trumpets, and Orientals.) To continue your season beyond August, request availability of certain bulbs past April. These bulbs must be taken directly from cold storage and planted at scheduled intervals (up until July) to extend your blooming season to first frost. Upon request. we would be happy to share some of our own cut-flower "forcing" bulbs from our cooler with gardeners throughout the early summer. Selection is subject to availability.
How can I increase blooming of my lilies?
Nature takes care of this over the years, provided you feed and water. As bulbs grow larger, they will send up larger stalks with more buds. Also you will notice new stems emerging as these bulbs produce underground "bulblets" from year to year. Do not "pinch" your lilies to increase bloom. Bulb-type plants do not respond in this manner. You will end up having no blooms whatsoever if stems are pinched or topped.
How do I request a replacement for failed bulbs?
As stated in our guarantee, we assure safe delivery of high quality, properly labeled bulbs. However, we are unable to honor claims for losses due to circumstances beyond our control, such as unusual environmental conditions, predators, or improper planting.. ( We include complete growing instructions with each order.)
To make a claim we ask you to notify us promptly of quality problems apparent on arrival. Please make your request in writing via E-mail, Fax, or regular mail. We suggest you label and mark your bulbs in the garden as a matter of course, in order to communicate with us better in the event of problems. For claims on losses, we also ask that you dig up failed bulbs and provide a detailed report of your findings. Please refer to our FAQ " Why didn't my bulbs come up?".
In addition, your written claim needs to specify variety, quantity, and approximate time of year you received your bulbs. These details are very important in order to give you satisfaction and correct any problems we may have.
What are the best growing conditions for lilies?
The ideal growing conditions are excellent drainage, adequate sun (4 or more hours per day), regular watering (not to extremes), loamy soil, occasional fertilizing, slightly acid pH, mild climate, and cool soil temperatures. Many of these requirements can be met by location, site engineering, and soil amendment. We provide complete growing instructions with each bulb order.
Are lilies good cut flowers?
Lilies are superior long-lasting cut flowers, sometimes lasting longer in the vase than in the garden. For fresh-cut garden lilies, you can expect every bud to open and have far better quality and color than hot-house commercial lilies. For best survival of the bulb, do not cut over 2/3 of the stem. Leave plenty of leaves behind to sustain and nourish the bulb for next year. Best varieties for cutting are tall, up facing-flower types in all lily categories.
Can lilies be grown in containers?
Yes, lilies are very attractive in containers and do very well if properly managed. Large pots are best, particularly whiskey barrels, especially if bulbs are to be wintered over year-to-year in containers. Care must be taken not to subject potted lilies to great extremes of temperature or soil moisture; which can limit their performance. The best pot varieties tend to be the more compact varieties, which do not grow disproportionately tall for their container.
Do bigger bulbs produce bigger flowers?
No, not necessarily. Flower size is a characteristic of each variety and not affected by bulb size. However, it is generally true that larger bulbs produce a greater number of flowers than smaller bulbs do. Keep in mind that small bulbs do grow larger year-to-year in the garden. Generally speaking, Oriental and Trumpet varieties produce larger bulbs than Asiatic varieties.
Do lilies "revert" back to ancestral types?
No, this is not the case. Oriental lilies cannot change to Asiatic types, nor can lilies change their basic color. Mutations are remotely possible, but extremely rare. In certain instances, color intensity can be affected by environmental variables, but this is probably a one season fluke.
Why did my lily produce a huge flattened stem with a tremendous number of flowers?
This anomaly is called "fasciation" and occasionally occurs, presumably due to environmental variables. It probably won't occur two seasons in a row.
Why didn't my bulbs come up?
Healthy appearing bulbs planted as directed at the proper time should have no trouble emerging. This question is best answered by digging and examining the bulbs. Clues such as rot, missing bulbs, or chewed-off stems, can be an indication of environmental disturbances or predation by rodents, slugs, snails, or deer. Such clues should help the gardener understand the problem and prevent its future recurrence.
Can lilies be forced indoors?
Most homes lack the proper lighting and temperature controls (evening temps in the low 50's) to successfully force lilies indoors. This is best left to commercial greenhouses.
How often do lilies bloom?
As with most bulbs, lilies only bloom once per year. They need a cool winter dormancy period of at least 8 weeks in order to reinitiate the flowering cycle. Each plant blooms 2 - 3 weeks out of the year. By selecting varieties with staggered bloom season, it is possible to cover the entire summer (June - August).
How are lilies best used in the garden?
We recommend lilies for:
1. Perennial plantings
2. As companions for rhododendrons and azaleas
3. In mass plantings
4. As landscape accent or specimen plants
5. In cutting beds
6. In containers.
Didn't find the answer to your question listed here?
Don't give up! There is a bounty of information out there which you may use.
Books contain more exact information on topics you are interested in.
Here are some books we recommend. You can purchase them on-line at Amazon.com. Just click the links to find out more.
Lilies - A Guide for Growers and Collectors.
Buy online at Amazon
Let's Grow Lilies
Buy online at Amazon
Magazines offer a wide variety of information to the reader and are usually subject specific.
Searching the Internet can offer up a wealth of information on particular subjects.
North American Lily Society, Inc.
If you have a question that you would like to ask us, please e-mail us and we will return your answer as soon as possible.