I was lazy and now my bag of mixed variety Asiatic lilies (sitting outside the garage door) did not get planted this fall. I would like to plant them in a pot. Can I still do this and leave the pot outside in the New England winter, or should I wait till spring?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
Lori from Boston, MA
You can go ahead and plant them, but depending on how long they have been sitting by the garage, the results may be disappointing. True Asiatic lilies do not go "dormant" like other bulbs. They should be planted with some of their live roots attached. This is why you see them for sale in pots rather than sold as bulbs. Once the roots are allowed to dry out, they die. As long as the roots haven't dried out and they don't show signs of mold, they will be okay. Plant them in pots that are deep enough so that you can plant the bulbs at a depth 2 1/2 to 3 times their height (about 6 inches). Use a slightly moist, fast draining potting soil. Asiatic lilies need a fair amount of room so space them from 9 to 18 inches apart. Most Asiatic lilies are hardy to zone 5, but just to be safe, you might want to bring them into a basement or unheated garage. It isn't the New England winter that worries me; it's the New England wildlife. Squirrels and mice venture out on warm winter days. Your lily bulbs would make an attractive mid-winter meal. It you would rather keep the pot outside, make sure you cover the pots with some screen or mesh to keep critters out. If you do bring the pots indoors, keep the bulbs at temperatures near 33ºF for the winter to prevent further sprouting.
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I just bought a pot of asiatic lilies (3 stems). I was wondering could I just grow them in a pot instead of ground? What about next year? Are they going to shoot in the pot for next year? I am a totally newbie at gardening. Any advice is welcomed.
Helen from London, Ontario
Asiatic lilies grow well in pots, as long as they have enough room. You'll need to assess the pot yours came in. Many nurseries sell lilies in pots not suited as permanent growing containers because they expect that the lilies will be transplanted into the garden. Your pot should be at least 12 inches in diameter (a 16-inch pot is enough room for about 5 bulbs and a 12-inch pot will hold about 3 bulbs). It's crucial that the potting medium is fast draining, and Asiatic lilies prefer a soil pH of 6.5. You can repot them now, as long as they are not flowering. In the future, try to save any necessary repotting for the fall after the lilies naturally die back. Keep the pots located in a sunny spot with good air circulation.
Lilies are heavy feeders so don't forget to fertilize them with an organic fertilizer throughout the growing season (follow directions on package). A fertilizer that is higher in potassium (like a tomato fertilizer) will give you the best flowers.
Most Asiatic lilies are only hardy to around zone 5, so you'll need to offer your lilies protection from the cold in the winter. Bring the pots in before your first frost and keep them in an unheated garage or basement. Don't cut the stems until they turn completely brown in the fall. (If you cut lily stems for arrangements, make sure you leave at least 2/3 of the stem in the pot to store energy for next year). Set them back out in the spring as soon as danger of frost has passed.
I live just south of Baltimore Maryland USA so our winters may be very different than yours. I had three pots of three plants in each, of the Asiatic lilies growing on my deck. I left them out the past two winters setting on a metal plant rack in the corner of my deck. They bloomed each year. This spring I decided that they looked far to crowded so I separated them and ended up with 49 different plants. Some of the bulbs were no bigger than my index finger nail so they did not bloom this year but are growing nicely. The plants of the bigger bulbs did bloom producing nice big blossoms. Good luck in your area. (07/01/2006)
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