The vibrant colours of the Summer Sky lily makes it a favourite for Langley gardener Pam Erikson. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

The vibrant colours of the Summer Sky lily makes it a favourite for Langley gardener Pam Erikson. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

LANGLEY GREEN THUMB: Perfect time for planting

When it comes to anything about lilies, Langley’s Pam Erikson is a respected industry expert

by Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times

Lily season is coming!

One of the most exciting times for me is planting new lily bulbs – the selection of Asiatic, Oriental, Longiflorum-Asiatics, Oriental-Trumpets, and Trumpets are endless.

And this year, there are some incredible new ones, in sizes from dwarf (18-inch tall for edges and containers) to the huge tree lilies that can reach 8 feet tall.

The breeders in Holland keep making huge strides in their breeding programs and thankfully those bulbs are making their way here to Canada.

RECENT COLUMN – GREEN THUMB: Tips for dressing up the outdoors this winter

Some we are particularly excited about this year are a new cross called an AOA lily – that is a cross between an Asiatic and an Oriental and then crossed again to another Asiatic. Asiatics are the earlier bloomers with no fragrance, while the Orientals are later bloomers with heady fragrance, so a cross between the two is quite thrilling.

This new variety is called Hotel California, and it has huge flowers of rich mandarin orange with a large red centre and dark red speckles.

Also new are some of the Longiflorum-Asiatics (hybrid crosses between Longiflorum lilies, commonly known as the Easter lilies, and Asiatics). This strain of lilies produces very thick sturdy stems with large flowers in early summer.

There have been a few over the years, like Bach – a stunning white, and Madrid with its huge soft peach blooms; but now there are dwarf varieties available like Summer Scarlet, Summer Snow, and Summer Sky. These shorter lilies (about 18 to 20 inches tall) still boast the big 6 inch flowers, so a grouping in a container is very eyecatching.

And not to be forgotten are the new Roselily varieties – these are Oriental lilies that have been bred to have double flowers, like a rose, and are pollen-free – a joy for those of us who like to cut flowers to have in the house but end up with orange stripes on our faces and clothing if we are not careful.

One very popular variety in this strain is Anouska – a double white with pink tips. And yes, they are very fragrant.

READ MORE – LANGLEY’S GREEN THUMB: Tiny hybrids can add stunning colour to the garden

Now is the perfect time for planting lily bulbs.

Make sure the ground they are being planted in has been loosened and has good drainage. Lilies will live, multiply and thrive for years in the garden if their location is well drained as they do not like wet feet, especially in the winter.

A good fertilizing in early May of a 14-14-14 slow release product is ideal, and then when they are blooming in the summer, a feeding of a phosphorus-rich fertilizer such as 3-15-16 is needed as it helps replenish the bulb, making it bigger for next year and encourages new babies.

Remember to find the sunniest spot you can for the lilies, as they tend to lean towards the sun if they are not getting enough light. Most lilies do not require support if they are in full sun, but taller varieties may need perennials supports if they lean or get too top heavy with all the blooms.

For those with allergies, stick to the Asiatics with no fragrance – but if you want that heavenly fragrance wafting throughout the garden, plant the Orientals, Trumpets, Oriental-Trumpets, and Roselily varieties.

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– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials and president of the Langley Garden Club

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Young Emma, seven months old, held tight to her bag of lily bulbs picked out from Erikson’s Daylily Gardens. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Young Emma, seven months old, held tight to her bag of lily bulbs picked out from Erikson’s Daylily Gardens. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

One of the new, but popular lilies is Hotel California. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

One of the new, but popular lilies is Hotel California. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Bach lilies are at “stunning” white perennial with sturdy stems. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Bach lilies are at “stunning” white perennial with sturdy stems. (Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times)

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