Firm favourites Lilium ‘Crimson Pixie’Few flowers add more drama to the garden than lilies and in spite of their exotic appearance, most are easy to grow. While tall lilies are gorgeous grown in a herbaceous border, shorter varieties look splendid grown in containers on a patio. There are over 100 species of lily as well as many hybrid varieties but among the most popular are the Asiatic hybrids, short to medium height, with upward –facing flowers produced early in the season, and the Oriental hybrids, which are taller and more refined with nodding, strongly scented flowers. Both of these varieties are ideal for planting in pots and in herbaceous borders.
Lilies can also be grown from bulbs which are available in garden centres in early autumn. These should be planted up as soon as possible as they can dry out quickly. Plant at a depth of three times their height, and a distance between them equivalent to three times the diameter of the bulb.
Lily flowers are often fragrant and they come in white, yellow, pink, red, orange with spotted or streaked petals. These flamboyant blooms also come in various shapes; trumpet shaped, bowl shaped, funnel shaped and turkscap (with curved back petals).
We asked the experts at The Pavilion Garden Centre for their top tips:
Site demands: The ideal situation is a sunny position with some shade for part of the day, but they will tolerate most sites as long as it’s not deep shade and very wet ground. Taller varieties need protection from strong wind. They like well drained fertile soil.
Planting: In bulb form, plant in humus-rich soil between late autumn and early spring, pot grown plants can be planted at any time (depending on weather conditions). Most lilies prefer acid to neutral soil (they do not tolerate lime).
Flowering: Lilies flower between early summer and autumn, with many flowering in middle to late summer. Flowering time depends on the species, the weather and growing conditions.
Feeding: Apply a feed such as Seamungus or Fish Blood and Bone when planting and again after flowering, water regularly during dry spells but avoid overwatering as this rots the bulbs.
Pests and diseases: Grey mould (botrytis) can be problem in humid conditions, especially if plants are overwatered or if air circulation is poor. The small bright red lily beetle and its larvae can cause a lot of damage, control them with a contact insecticide and clear away plant debris in which the adults overwinter.