In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
June, 2014
Regional Report

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These 'Sumatra' lilies smell as good as they look!

Growing Lilies

Lilies are an impressive sight in the garden, standing tall and proudly displaying their brilliant hues for all to see. On first glance, they resemble exotic butterflies hovering in the breeze.

Both 'Sumatra' and 'Stargazer' lilies are classified as Oriental hybrids, which have blooms up to 9 inches across and an amazing fragrance that fills a room with sweet perfume. They make excellent cut flowers and are fairly easy to grow here along the coast. Lilies bloom during the summer months and will hold on to their blossoms for two to four weeks. You can extend the bloom season over several months by planting several different varieties. Remove the faded flowers to keep the bulb strong by preventing the seeds from maturing and robbing vigor from the plant.

The Asiatic lilies are the easiest variety to grow. Compared to the Orientals, the Asiatic flowers are smaller in size and have no scent. Plant either variety in well-drained soil rich in organic matter in an area protected from the wind, and you will be amazed at how hardy they are.

There are a few tricks to growing lilies in your garden. They prefer flood irrigation to overhead watering. The bulbs never really go into deep dormancy, so they need to be kept moist throughout the year. Keep in mind that gophers think lilies are a delicacy, so plant the bulbs in heavy-gauge wire baskets if you have a gopher problem.

If you can't plant new lily bulbs right away, keep them moist in damp moss or paper towels until they go into the ground. Lilies grow very well in deep containers if you don't have space in your garden.

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