Although not impossible, transplanting during summer growth is a bit more difficult to achieve with good results. Lily bulbs grow ONE stem per year; if that stem is broken off your bulb will not be able to rebuild its girth before winter. If new construction or a residence change requires you to transplant lilies now, here are a few guidelines.
- Dig the receiving hole or have a large sturdy bucket, pot or even cardboard box (lined with plastic) ready. Water the lily bulbs the day before you will be doing the transplanting so they are hydrated.
- Cut off any flowers or buds to enjoy indoors in vases - leave as many leaves as possible.
- Starting about 5 or 6 inches from the stem, dig down at least 12 inches and then begin working your way near the bulb to determine its true location. Sometimes lilies will send up a shoot around a rock or be laying on their sides. It sounds like biting into a ripe apple should you cut one in half so be careful.
- After you know exactly where the bulb is, dig around the stem.
- Next lift the bulb - with stem attached - out of the hole. If you accidentally have cut off roots beneath the bulb, it is OK for now, those bottom side roots are there to anchor the bulb, they are not as critical at this point - but you will probably need to stake the plant for the remainder of this summer.
- Place root ball into newly dug hole, one to two inches deeper than it was growing, back fill and press down soil, water ONCE to settle soil, do not water again for at least a week.
- If transporting any distance in a bucket or box? Pack damp sawdust around the root ball, but do not add water. The damp sawdust or pet bedding will keep the root ball in good condition for about a week if you are moving from one house to another, but if you can plant the clump immediately that is much better. Put resting lilies into shade, not the hot sun, they need light but not hot sun while they are in boxes or buckets. Plant into your new garden as soon as possible and do not water until soil is dry two inches below the surface.
- If moving to pots, back fill with good potting soil and water to settle soil as above. Also do not water again for at least a week, remember they were watered before moving. If you water too much the lower leaves will yellow and fall off. Keep pots in light shade until you can move bulbs into the garden this fall after the foliage has matured and the stems are brown. Click Winter Care of Potted Lilies should you need to keep you lily bulbs in pots over winter.