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The first thing to make your venture into Lily or Spring bulb growing successful is perfect drainage.
Bulbs are gross feeders and root deeply. After planting, a good mulch of leaf mould or well rotted compost is beneficial. The mulch keeps the soil cool and discourages weed growth and eliminates the need for soil cultivation which might hurt stem roots. A good handful of balanced fertiliser scattered over the ground every few centimetres will help keep them healthy and strong.
Lilies need sunlight, but some varieties keep their colours better in a position where they will be in filtered sunlight or semi-shade. Spring bulbs prefer full or filtered sunlight. Never plant where other Lilies have failed to grow. Plant bulbs immediately on arrival.
Lilies have valuable stem roots and require sufficient depth to get the benefit of these stem roots. Bulbs should be planted with 10cm (4in) of soil on top, slightly less for smaller bulbs. The depth of soil is measured from soil level to the top of the bulb. Daffodils and tulips should be planted at twice the depth of their size meaning they have their height (around 5cm) on top of the bulb.
Lily bulbs are never completely dormant. -Copper Sprays are very beneficial to Lilies and Paeonies especially through October and November (giving a little Frost Protection on lilies which is helpful for the Lily Regale). Do not cut foliage on Spring bulbs after flowering, let them die down completely as this plumps up the bulb for the following year. In warmer areas (upper North Island) tulips should be lifted after they have died down and stored dry. They should be put in the fridge chiller 6-8 weeks before planting.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Q: What should I do for my lilies?
A: Feed them! Liquid fertiliser, Nitrophoska is great early spring. Osmocote is excellent in pots and soil when planting bulbs. Lilies are gross feeders.
2. Q: My lilies have black spots or browning on the leaves, what is this?
A: Botrytis. Spray early spring with Bravo/Thiram.
3. Q: Are animal manures all right to use on my lilies?
A: As a mulch only and not too fresh. Do not put into hole when planting bulbs as bulb roots don't like this too much. Osmocote is better.
4. Q: Are lilies all right in pots?
A: Yes, excellent in pots (with good potting mixes and Osmocote). Do not use garden soil in pots.
5. Q: How often should I repot?
A: About every three years, depending on how big the pot is. Add Osmocote every year to pots.
6. Q: What should I do with clay soils?
A: Lilies need good drainage. Prepare soil well, compost, leaf mould, a little sand and well rotted sawdust mixed into clay soils will help build it up. Add extra fertiliser to allow for nitrogen loss in the decomposition of the material. Gypsum is also beneficial in these heavy soils. Lilies don't mind calcium, especially Asiatics.
7. Q: What is a good fertiliser recipe for bulbs? A: 200grams of Blood and Bone, 250grams Osmocote (or any other nitrogen fertiliser), 250grams of Potash - Mix together and work into soil. This mixture will do approximately 10 bulbs. Give side dressing after emergence. Compost or straw mulch if available is beneficial. Copper sprays are beneficial to lilies.
8. Q: Why do my tulips not flower so well the secound season? A: they have had a short growing season ,they must be feed again when in active growth to promote next seasons baby bulbs to flowering size. use general Garden fert and Liquid Thrive is also beneficial water fert in.