Ooo, ooo, I’m like Roo jumping up and down and shouting in the Pooh stories. There’s NO containing my enthusiasm. All spring I wore a path checking their progress thinking surely I must’ve counted wrong and I counted again. So what if they’re a bit crooked and won’t be legible for a blue at any upcoming show. I’d never enter them because I wouldn’t think of cutting them, well, maybe one bloom at a time…some have as many as 15 buds, some 11 or 9, it’s going to be heaven in my yard for at least a month. The scent will be overwhelming.
The time has come, they’re opening and they’re spectacular! Everyone should have at least one pot or plot filled with trumpet lilies. Forget all you’ve heard about any difficulty growing them, it’s the deer and woodchucks you have to worry about. Good bulbs grow themselves given a well draining location and decent soil. My white Regales started blooming on or about June 20th and will continue through till about mid July. The yellow trumpets, `Golden Splendor’ or maybe `Golden Temple’, should follow a bit behind the Regales and start opening around July 1st and continue depending on the number of buds. My tallest is 2′ taller than me, about 7 ‘, and if it’s not staked well enough, will touch the ground when it starts opening. So I just added another teepee of three stakes braced together for insurance. The blooms are heavy, they measure 7-8” in length and the petal spread is a good 6”. By dusk, the garden air begins to thicken with their fragrance. A bonus to having yellow and white flowers in the garden is they glow in those moments before darkness. If you’re an evening stroller be sure to consider adding some of these color bloomers.
This year I think two other trumpets will finally bloom. For the last two years, a scavenger has chewed them to the ground, but this year perhaps my bamboo stakes provided enough protection. The tallest has a single stalk with 5 buds, if my records are right, it will be a rose trumpet called `Pink Perfection’. The other will be a special surprise, it has only one bud and is just beginning color.
My wish list for additional trumpet lilies includes an `African Queen’ or `Anaconda,’ whose bloom hue range is from shades of copper to apricot. Once you find a plant that does well one might as well get more!
Normally lilies are planted in the fall although some suppliers only ship in the spring. Growers wait to move or dig the bulbs till after the foliage dies back as it feeds the next year’s bloom. Some sources must wait to ship in spring. I have planted at both times with good results, even as late as March. The first season’s bloom can be the best. Then the bulbs adapt to their new environment. If it continues to thrive with strong upright stalks and produces several new stalks, you have it in a good spot. If it declines, it may need moving to a sunnier location. Or it could be diseased, if so, toss it before it affects all the others in your yard! If the bulb is diseased, chemicals rarely fix the problem. The same requirements for planting and drainage are necessary for the three categories of lilies; Asiatic, Aurelian and Oriental.
The Asiastics bloom in Zone 6-7 from about May till July, have smooth petals though may have spots, and are usually without scent. Aurelians are the highly scented trumpets up to 7′ or 8′ tall and begin blooming from mid-June through early August. The Orientals are also highly scented, the petal spots have texture and fuzz, and will bloom sometimes into September for me. The white trumpet shaped Easter lilies classified as Longiforum-Asiatics which bloom from late June till July are finely scented and hardy here. They are now available in yellows and pinks. Of course weather conditions affect our gardens and can cause a 2 or 3 week difference some years. The species lilies will have more distinct requirements exclusive unto themselves and are normally more difficult to match to your garden’s environment. Only the Lilium superbum has acclimated itself to a spot or two in my yard and in drought years it can dry up completely.
The rule of thumb for planting is to set the bulb at the depth of three times its length except Lilium candidum which likes only about an inch of soil on top. One resource states never more than 4” on soil over the bulbs, but I think they’ll settle in at their favorite spot. Bulbs don’t mind mulch or coming up through shrubs and other perennials. They actually enjoy cool roots as long as their heads can be in the sun. Plenty of organic rich soil with a handful of compost every spring and fall is what mine get. I rake a layer of maple leaves onto the flower beds every fall and if necessary pull off after the first few warm spring days. I trim the dead flowers so that the bulb doesn’t use all its energy to make seeds. If you want to bring the flowers in you can cut the individual blooms and float them in water or cut the stalk. Every resource book I have says NEVER cut off more than 1/3 of the foliage. After the stalk has yellowed it is suggested that it be cut off. But I don’t remove it unless I place a stake or marker nearby to warn me they’re there.
For those who want to know more about lilies, contact the North American Lily Society, P. O. Box 476, Waukee, IA 50263. In this area the local lily group holds their annual show on Father’s Day weekend at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC. They also sponsor special bulb orders and have an annual plant exchange. Contact Potomac Lily Society, 11127 Schuykill Rd., Rockville, MD 20852.